Patterns of Solitude

Psalm 61:2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Author Richard Foster wrote a book four decades ago called Celebration of Discipline. Revised for the modern age, his message celebrates the basic disciplines of the Christian faith. I’ve learned from reading older books such as these that any demonstration which is biblically founded, remains timeless. Since the principles of God’s Word never changes, neither does the way christians practice the Word.

A recent revision of the book targeted the discipline of solitude, particularly for the modern age. Since I enjoy connecting with people, the practice of solitude can be challenging for me and the recent covid environment of isolation was what I would describe as sheer misery.

The practice of solitude has an important role in the life of a believer, even though we are called to fellowship with one another and in expressing love within the body of Christ (John 13:35), these times of solitude prove important for growth.

Hebrews 10:25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

*Believers are meant to come together in fellowship and unity. The process of strengthening and encouraging one another are elements of the Spirit of God at work within the church and yet solitude remains a necessity for reflection, prayer, and listening to God. If people remain so busy where the events of life overshadow personal devotion, then a cascade of spiritual weakening begins to take place.

Godly Effects

Being busy has been a consistent pattern in many cultures. When asking someone how their week has gone, it’s almost a a badge of honor to talk of how busy they were and yet somehow they seemed pull it off once again. Is being busy all the time healthy?

In an article in Acuity magazine, dietician Christina Ross said “Over time and without any relief, this chronic stress response can damage our arteries, weaken our immune system, cause fatigue and promote low-grade inflammation throughout the body, which all contribute to an increased risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke.”

Maintaining the right balance of increased activity with a measure of solitude is important and yet the practice of solitude has varied greatly. In recent years, the topics of meditation have seemed to contain as much variety as there are people. What people meditate upon makes a difference.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Godly Techniques

Meditation isn’t a new idea, many religions practice meditation techniques. Chanting, incense, music, posture, and even locations vary in many religions. Hinduism has probably mastered meditative techniques as well as anyone and many of their ideas and practices have formed out of it.

Yoga at its broadest is from the root word “yuj” in Sanskrit, means to unite. Most Hindu texts discuss yoga as a practice to control the senses and ultimately, the mind.

The practice of Yoga has infiltrated the church and it’s practices. Often disguised as a means of exercise or good health, the practice has its roots in negligent idolatry and demonic incantations.

Stretching is good for the body, deep breathing is helpful in relaxation and quietness is soothing but why not do that without calling it Yoga?

Yoga is part of a religion. You don’t see people of the world having “worship the Lord “classes that involve these same techniques do you?

We are called to be in the world but separate. When christians practice a technique under the guise of a false religion, it blurs the lines of God revealing His holiness through His people.

Psalm 119:15 “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”

Christian Meditation

One method in this modern fast paced environment filled with incessant technology overdrive comes from Mr. Foster–this isn’t the only way but just one idea for finding time to connect with the Lord meaningfully.

Day One: For 30 minutes turn off all technology. Make some coffee or tea, find a comfortable place to sit and begin by speaking these words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Then be still. No writing. No talking. Nothing. The idea is to listen to God.

Day Two: Again, for 30 minutes, become free of all technology. Today, take a walk, allow your footsteps to fall into the rhythm of your whispering of the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. As the Lord reveals the areas of your life that you’ve kept from Him or other areas in which you’ve fallen, confess them to Him and repent of them. Let this time be a time of healing. Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

Day Three: Again, turn off all technology for 30 minutes. Find a comfortable place and talk to the Lord and allow His Spirit to wash over you in humility and a contrite spirit. Then follow with praying the pattern of the Lord’s prayer. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name” can sound like this…”My Father, you are high and lifted up, you know all things and you know my life and I worship your name. I pray that the KIngdom that Jesus established will be established in me. I pray that your will, will be accomplished in me as it has been on Earth and in Heaven from the beginning. I pray meet my needs today and lead me away from the temptations of this world. When the enemy attacks I pray you deliver me from it’s evil snare. This world is under your Sovereign hand and I pray that your power will be evident in me for all to see, that your glory will what people praise through me and that others will see and know you are God.”

You see, praying the “Lord’s Prayer”, isn’t just quoting the verse but understanding the pattern of why and how Jesus was teaching the disciples to pray.

Days Four, Five, and Six: Repeat the same rhythm of days one, two, and three.

Day Seven: Use your technology to your heart’s content, maybe using a Bible app. and cross referencing scripture. Follow this simple pattern for a few months and add time if you feel it necessary, then watch and see what happens.

Your walk with the Lord will move beyond a few stretching exercises and talk time with friends, your time will become cherished and you will see the value of this time you spend with God as being invaluable.

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Jesus patterned solitude when he walked upon the earth. His time spent in prayer with the Father was critical for maintaining the focus of His ministry and completing all He had planned.

Mark 6:46 “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.”

If you want to see your life exhibit the power of God, if you want to see your testimony becoming more effective, or you simply want to draw closer to the Lord, start changing your habits. You’ll find this is where true strength lies….spending time in the presence of the Lord.

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