Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Learning the practice of solitude

What does our lives look like when they have intentional solitude? 

First off, how many of you have ever taken intentional time in quiet to be with the Lord? If you have never done this you might want to start small. Think of five minutes or ten minutes at first. You can increase to thirty minutes or sixty minutes as you progress. 

Some of you have been practicing solitude for a while now and you might be ready for a silent retreat at a monastery in the near future. The reality is that you will need to schedule time to make this happen, it won’t happen on accident. 

Let me just briefly remind us that this is not a modern self-help remedy that we’re talking about here. We’re talking about solitude as a spiritual practice of being with the Lord. For the introverts in the room this might be a welcomed practice. For the extroverts this might feel like solitary confinement. Remember during the pandemic when people said to start checking on your extroverted friends because they aren’t doing well? Well, this might be more difficult for some people than for others, that doesn’t mean any of us are exempt. 

So you’ve schedule time in your week to sit in solitude with the Lord. You have your journal in front of you and you’re ready to hear from the Lord. I want to give you three ways to go in your time of solitude. The first way is to practice listening to God. This comes from 1 Samuel 3:10. The Lord was talking with Samuel but he didn’t know how to hear God’s voice. His mentor told him to say this line. So you can schedule your time and place with the Lord and just sit and listen to God. You’re not coming to God to pray for your spouse, kids, parents, or next career move. You’re coming to God to primarily hear His voice. 

The next way you can sit with God in solitude is to practice silence. This idea comes from Psalm 46:10. The Psalmist teaches us to simply be still before the Lord. In this practice you are being still before The Lord. You are allowing the Lord to examine your heart. This might be one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to practice in solitude. We are great at going all different directions. So you are sitting with the Lord and you’re going to be tempted to start thinking about other things. You’re going to have to keep a tight reign on your thoughts. This is why we have a journal in front of us. We can write those distractions down to take care of them later. We can write down anything God speaks to us in this time. There is such a value of having this time. 

Listen to what A.W. Tozer said: “The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His presence.”

The last idea I want to share with you to practice during this time is asking the Lord to search your heart. If you turn to Psalm 139:23-24 for this time it will help guide you. What I want you to notice is that Scripture is the guide in every step of our time with the Lord. This might look like confession of sin. I like to use this time as deep down confession. Let me share what I mean. Sometimes we can confess our sin in the two minutes that we have with the Lord but we don’t ask God to search our heart and deeply confess sin. In this time you ask God to reveal the dark side of your soul and confess your sin all the way down. You are setting aside this time to confess its the right direction. 

Another thing that you can do in this time is sit with your journal and write down what God speaks to you. You might confess your sin or God might reveal somethings to you about your walk with the Lord that He wants to bring to light. When I’ve sat in this time I have brought my journal with me. It’s similar to when Moses sat with the Lord. We allow the Lord to speak to us about who we really are. 

For some of us, this just seems too hard. This seems like too much to add to your plate. You might be thinking that you don’t even want to do it. Solitude can feel boring. It can feel like a waste of time. The truth is that we love to have our schedules filled. We love to be busy. We love to look important and this doesn’t make us feel important. This feels like stopping instead of taking the hill. Can I encourage to find a special place to be with the Lord to practice listening, practice siren, and ask the Lord to search your heart? 

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