“Incline your ear and come to me. Listen that you may live” (Isaiah 55:3, NAS)
Solitude is one of the ingredients that sustains our communication with God through prayer.
In fact, it is the mechanism I believe through which God intends for us to find Him and to listen to Him as a disciple.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOLITUDE
There are at least three reasons why solitude is so important. First…
It provides rest for the body and soul. Everyone needs a break from time to time. Even Jesus needed a break. But His breaks were somewhat different than what most people would consider as a break. When many of us take a break we drink coffee, go fishing, or go to a movie. Sometimes when we take a long break or a vacation we come back more tired than when we left. Our type of break is a break from the rat race of life, a break from work, a break from duty, a break from responsibility—and too often, sadly, it is a break from God. Yes, often our breaks are an excuse to satisfy our flesh in worldly and lustful pleasure, a time to catch up on all the sin we have missed. And that is one reason why, when we come back from our breaks, we are so tired. Sin has worn us out, and the only way we can find some relief is to go back to work again. How sad that we haven’t learned how to take a break.
Let’s learn from Jesus how to take a break. When Jesus took a break He went to places of solitude and quiet, where He was alone with His Father. It was a time to pray and reflect. Jesus once said to His disciples, and He says to us, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mk. 6:31, NIV).David Runcorn comments on Jesus’ practice of solitude:
“This was the secret of Jesus’ life. This was where He found strength to follow the Father’s will. When we follow Him we must copy not only His words and actions but His silence and moments of solitary withdrawal as well. If Jesus needed those times, then we certainly need them more!”
Jesus was not like many of us who take breaks from God to feed our flesh and then go away exhausted. Rather, He rooted His life in solitude in order to give Himself to the world. He rested from His work and at the same time gained strength from His Father in prayer, after which He came away feeling both spiritually and physically re-vived. Yes, Jesus really knew how to take a break! We ought to follow His example.
A second reason why solitude is important is because…
It helps us find God and learn His voice. Solitude is important not just to give us a break, or even to gain strength, but to find God and learn His voice. In Psalms 46:10 God tells us: “Be still, and know that I am God.” In the NAS it says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Solitude helps us to be still and cease striving. Through solitude we can come to know that God is really God.
In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” I take it to mean here that the reward (of the secret place of solitude) is not only when God answers your prayers, but also when He lets you find Him, and when we learn His ways and purposes and become familiar with His voice.
The main reason I think we can find God better in Solitude is because God is a spirit and is unseen. Solitude is where we can better get in touch with our spirit so that we can connect with His spirit. And there in solitude we can worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24).
A third reason why solitude is important is because…
It helps enhance our love for God and man. When we endeavor to remove our-selves from all the distractions of the world, even to fast for a time in order to see, feel, and be satisfied by God alone, He indeed rewards us with His love and pleasure. And when we have experienced His love we can’t help but to love all those whom He loves—the entire world (Jn. 3:16). For when we are in solitude He takes us into the arms of His love, satisfies us by the milk of His Word (1 Pet. 2:2), and He shows us the wide expanse of His love; it is a love with no respect of persons (Ja. 2) and having no limit to personal sacrifice.