Tag Archives: solitude

Clarity

I’m taking my annual sabbatical this week. I want to keep encouraging you with God’s Word while I’m away though. Here’s a devotional from one of the sites I follow B Is For Blessed.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
Ephesians 4:17-18 NKJV

 The ice pictured here was photographed a few years ago in Alaska. It was so clean and clear because it lacked the impurities found elsewhere. Likewise, we need to get away to obtain that same sense of clarity in our mind and spirit. The chatter of people, things, and social media can cause us to forget our purpose and pull us away from the very things God tasks us to do.

There are several references in the Bible where Jesus left the crowds (and his disciples) to be alone and pray. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus stepped away from those closest to him to be alone. What’s interesting is that the disciples Jesus asked to stay up with him failed him three times that night.

Those closest to us can fail to meet our expectations as well. When we face trials, we may instinctively call other people to draw them into our troubles.

Yet, what if we choose not to solicit the sympathy and opinions of others in trying times and, instead, seek the God who sees the end from the beginning? What would change if we habitually went away—accessible to God’s ministering angels— to be strengthened for the crosses we must bear?

If Jesus had to be alone to gain peace and perspective, how much more necessary is it for us to remove ourselves and eliminate the noise of doubt and fear?

It doesn’t require a grand vacation to gain the clarity we need. Sitting alone and embracing the silence a few moments a day may be all it takes to organize our priorities. Praying in a closet or the solitude of a car can produce calm over chaos.

What could be more important than the ability to hear God and visualize His plans for our lives? What opportunities can we unlock by learning to shut out the things (or people) that steal our time and energy?

I challenge you to break away and create new routines in 2020. Put yourself in positions and places where you can abide with God. Do whatever it takes to gain the peace and perspective that will give you confidence to walk the path He has for you.

We receive salvation by grace. Yet, I’ve learned that peace of mind and clarity of purpose require effort on my part. Solitude renews my mind. Silence allows me to hear God. I’ve finally learned to sit down and be still which generates a fruitfulness that running around like crazy never produced.

Seek and hear God like never before.

What you focus on will inevitably determine what you see…

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Inputs Matter

Almost every measure of success has to do what some type of key performance indicator. People judge your success by how much money you make or how many items you sell. We brag about how many hours we work each week too. Somewhere along the way, we have also made busyness an indicator of success. The more busy you are, the more successful you must be. We’ve just about made busyness equal to godliness. Our constant for us is on what are we producing today. Because people measure us by our outputs, we focus solely on those, but how are your inputs?

Jesus was a busy person by all accounts. Thousands would come to Him to hear Him preach and to be healed. The Bible often says that He had compassion on them and healed them all. The output of His ministry was strong, but that is because He focused so much energy on His inputs. You constantly read where Jesus went alone to pray. He knew that if all He did was focus on His outputs, He would burn out and have nothing left to give. If He needed to replenish His innermost being, how much more do we? You can’t keep giving without putting anything back inside. Inputs matter.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life” (TPT). Your wellspring of life depends on you focusing on your inputs. Every one of us have different ways of recharging. For some, it’s solitude. For some, it’s going for a walk. Think of the times you feel most energized. What we’re you doing? Those are things that keep you going and need to be scheduled into your life regularly. Life drains everyone. We all must pay attention to our inner health if we’re going to be able to accomplish all God has for us. Jesus found the balance between being about His father’s business and recharging. So can you.

Photo by Alex Bertha on Unsplash

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Why Morning Prayer Is Not Essential For The Christian Life

I will explain why I feel morning prayer is not necessarily essential to the Christian life or the best time to pray, as some claim. Foremost, I want you to understand that Chris and I share an admiring friendship and it allows us to see differently, where we might, and maintain godly fellowship.

Also, two things I wish to highlight now: 1) My argument concerns the significance of prayer made at the start of one’s day as opposed to later in the day by those who claim or imply that it is the best time for prayer; and 2) that I write as one who has practiced morning prayer and can attest to its benefits; however, I do not prefer or recommend a morning prayer routine.

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Morning Prayer Is Not Essential Because…

No. 1 – God, the scriptures, and history do not establish a precedent for morning prayer.

People commonly use two passages to argue for the primacy of morning prayer. They read: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You” (Ps. 63: 1, NKJV); and “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

Early, as some Bible versions reflect, does not mean time of day; instead, it describes David’s search, which other versions properly convey: with earnestness or eagerness. The Mark passage can be easily countered with Luke 6:12: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Christian prayer practices in the earliest history of the church prove just as varied. Moreover, we find no command from God about when we should pray. 

No. 2 – Solitude is essential to the Christian life. 

The establishment of spiritual discipline in the heart is imperative to one’s formation. Solitude is the practice of withdrawing from others to give time to inner reflection. Quiet, reflective spirits are quickly receptive to the Holy Spirit. If those who argue for morning prayer are implying this point, then fine; however, they miss the point that solitude can be created in chaotic times and places.

No. 3 – We should pray when our hearts are most receptive and our minds are most alert.

This is primarily the reason why I do not opt for early prayer. As I stated, morning prayer works. It trained my heart and ordered my day, valuable spiritual benefits for anyone. It called my attention to the holy before any distraction or disruption. But getting up early to pray sometimes felt like a chore, and I wasn’t always as alert as I desired to be. By late afternoon, my prayer time could seem long gone. Contrarily, I know that mid-morning to mid-afternoon is my mental prime period. Thus, it is better for me to pray when my focus is strong, and I prefer it that way. I feel that the time of prayer serves our schedule and ability to focus on God, which I understand is why some morning advocates may suggest as much. But everyone’s hearts and minds are not receptive and alert in the morning; so prayer then just won’t be “the best” time for them.

 No. 4 – A fixed hour of prayer is better than a required morning routine. 

From what I’ve already stated, what is essential is that we pray at all and that our prayers are characterized by solitude, focus, and, now, consistency. If a person chooses to be consistent at the very start of his or her day, I cannot argue against that. But more important than viewing the morning as the best time to pray, I would prefer an individual to be perfunctory about it. This trait was formative to my prayer life as an adolescent. I met God each day at 3 o’clock—sharp. Thereby, prayer became a habit and a monumental aspect of my spiritual foundation today.

No. 5 – God always hears our prayers. 

A morning prayer is no less heard than a prayer made on the busiest corner of Los Angeles at the height of rush hour. Further, a prayer is not more acceptable because it is prayed in the morning as opposed to some other time of day. This is not like comparing broccoli to fries. God hears every prayer and is honored that anyone should call to him. So let’s avoid spats and be dutiful to pray and so capitalize on the relationship we are given to share with our Father.

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