December 15, 2017

Alone with God

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

In a solitary place. Early in the morning. Continually.

These words describe one thing: how Christ spent time with His Father during His ministry here on earth. They ought also to describe the same thing of us. But do they?

Solitary: Time after time, we are told that Christ went away into the wilderness or into the mountains to pray. He got utterly alone with His Father. We know from our relationships with spouses or close friends that we need alone time to grow the friendship. But do we practice that with God – the greatest and most significant relationship we could ever have? When was the last time you were truly completely alone with Him, away from family and friends, away from technology (that’s right, no ringing phones to interrupt), away from anything that could possibly distract your thoughts from communing with God? I know it’s not always possible to free yourself from all of that every single day – but the effort should be made. You would make it for your husband or wife; why not do it for God? And even if there are still people around, still phones that may ring or thoughts that may intrude, we must have the determination and the discipline to ignore all these things and focus only and wholly on God. People should learn that you aren’t to be interrupted when you’re reading the Word and spending time in prayer. Phones can be ignored, thoughts pushed to the background. But we MUST be alone with God.

Early: Another pattern we see within the life of Christ is that He often got up “very early in the day” to depart for that solitary place mentioned above. We see this also with David, throughout many of his psalms. We see it of Moses and of Paul, throughout their words recorded in Scripture. Now, if you’re anything like me, mornings are the most troublesome part of the day. My husband compares me to a crockpot – very slow to wake up, but once I’m awake I’m there all day (and then slow to get sleepy at night). I can get out of bed the first time my alarm goes off, but just because my body is awake doesn’t mean my mind is. And I don’t like sitting down to spend time with God until my mind is awake enough to focus – awake enough to comprehend what I read in Scripture, awake enough to ignore distractions, awake enough to be completely “there” with God. So mornings are a rough time to sit down and have my alone time with God. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t at least talk to God briefly before I start the day. In fact, that’s a habit I’m trying to form right now – talking to God before I talk to anyone else, even saying a quick prayer for the day while my head is still on the pillow, before I ever get my feet out of bed. It’s important. It shapes how your day will go, for it focuses your mind on God before you ever have to face anything at all. No, it’s not some magic formula – pray before you get out of bed and your day will be wonderful. No, things will still go wrong. But if you’re already thinking about God and what will please Him, the right responses will come much more easily. The peace and joy that is found only in His presence will already be there. Spend time with Him in the morning, whether that means your entire alone time with Him, or just a few focused sentences asking for His guidance on the day.

Daily: Finally, we see the pattern in Christ’s time on earth that he made a consistent practice to be alone with His Father. A relationship will never grow with consistent time together: we will never get to know God better and become more like Him if we are not regularly (daily) spending alone time with Him. It’s the same in the physical realm – we need food every single day in order to survive and grow (sometimes in more ways than we desire). So in the spiritual realm, we need the meat of Scripture and the nourishment of being in God’s presence if we want to grow. That doesn’t mean you have to do the same exact thing every single day, or even spend the same amount of time every day. Think about a husband and wife – some days they have long hours to spend walking on the beach or hiding out in a cozy mountain cabin; other days their time together is sandwiched between dealing with kids and pets and household duties and work and …. well, you get the idea. It’s not the same every day. Just because you can spend three hours in the Word and in prayer one day doesn’t mean you have to keep that up every single day. Be flexible. Be humble about it. And above all, don’t try to measure up to someone else’s standards. What works for my Mom doesn’t work for me. What works for me doesn’t work for my husband. What works for him might not work for someone else. But be sincere and consistent, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide to the how and the how long of spending time with Him.

In a solitary place. Early in the morning. Continually.

Can the same be said of you?

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