"As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer."
- Luke 5:16 MSG
As long as I can remember, I have cherished what I like to call "alone time". When I was very young, I used to take long walks alone, just to have some quiet moments apart from my parents and siblings. After I got married and had children, I began to treasure those times when I could relax and unwind in quiet solitude. It's not that I don't love and appreciate my family, because I do. It's just that I have learned that if I want to be healthy, and have peace of mind and heart, then I have to have regular periods of being alone. I was reminded of this fact when my husband, Joe, experienced many months of unemployment, and was home full time. As my "alone time" began to steadily shrink, I found myself becoming increasingly irritable, agitated, and depressed. My thinking was often scattered, and I had trouble concentrating. Eventually, it affected my prayers, my faith, and my ability to hear from God. As I recalled how often Jesus made a point of spending time alone, I realized that I was going to have to get serious about doing the same thing.
Scripture says: "Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him, and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:15-16 NIV) These verses point out that even though the Savior was surrounded by pressing needs, He still regularly withdrew from others to be alone and pray. I have learned that I am not going to be much good to others if I don't set aside regular periods of quiet solitude and fellowship with God. And the busier we are, the more serious we are going to have to be about doing this very thing. Mark 6:31-32 (NIV) says: "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [His disciples], 'Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." On hectic days, I can often hear the Lord speaking to my heart, "Come apart with Me, before you come apart at the seams."
The Bible tells us that when Jesus heard the news of John the Baptist's death, "He went off by Himself in a boat to a remote area to be alone." (Matthew 14:13 NLT) When we hear unpleasant news, when we're hurting, or when we begin to fret and worry about something or someone, the best thing we can do is to go off by ourselves and talk to God about it. As we pour out our hearts to Him, He will give us His perspective in the matter, and He will soothe our worries and heal our hurts. Scripture indicates that those who choose to spend time alone with the Lord will receive unique rewards from Him. Mark 4:34 (NLT) says: "In fact, in His public teaching [Jesus] taught only with parables, but afterward when He was alone with His disciples, He explained the meaning to them." While it's possible for us to talk to God and to hear from Him anytime and anyplace, there is revelation knowledge that we can only receive from Him when we make the effort to spend time alone with Him, seeking Him with all our hearts.
We live in a society where the word "alone" is taking on a very negative meaning, even though if you look up the definition of it in a dictionary, you will see that aloneness can imply something positive, rather than negative. These days, if you're alone in your car, you might feel the need to turn on the radio, or to call someone on your cell phone. What would happen if you spent that time alone speaking to God and listening for His voice? It just might be the perfect opportunity for the Lord to impart His wisdom, strength, or healing to you. Jesus said: "But the time is coming - in fact, it is already here - when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me." (John 16:32 NLT) If you are a child of God, you need never fear being alone. Even if every friend and loved one were to desert you, you would still have the Lord's presence to accompany you. As I write this, my family is in New York City, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and attending a Yankees ballgame. Even though I knew it would be great fun to join them, I chose to stay home and enjoy having the house all to myself for a while. I'm not feeling lonely or sorry for myself. Instead, I am relishing my "alone time," and enjoying some special moments with God.
I believe that the Lord has some extraordinary and unique blessings, opportunities, and rewards for you that can only be received as you set aside some time to get still and quiet before Him. If you stop for a moment and listen closely, you just might hear the Savior's voice telling you - "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile"! (Mark 6:31 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, teach me the many benefits of "alone time". Help me to learn to be quiet before You, and to resist surrounding myself with noise all the time. Remind me often that there are times when I must get still before You before I can receive Your direction, comfort, and strength. Show me how I can get to know You better through undistracted and unhurried prayer, praise, and Scripture study. Thank You that as I make alone time with You my highest priority, I will reap a harvest of peace, joy, and well-being!
- J. M. Farro
The Promise-Powered Life Paperback Book
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