The issues of life have a way of snowballing, don’t they? Stresses from life, work and relationships…fears about the future, regrets from the past and concerns about the present…and all the while we’re supposed to live lives of purpose and focus. How in the world are we supposed to stay grounded and have a relationship with God in the midst of all that?
One verse about Jesus’ life helps me to understand how he accomplished so much in the time he was here. Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” This is such an important passage to me. Pretty much ever since I gave my life to Christ, I’ve tried to do this.
One of the most important things to me is having a beautiful outdoor spot where I can get alone with God. When I go, all bets are off. My prayers are not well-formed or thought through. I just allow my heart and soul to unplug. I tell him whatever is going on in my mind and my goal is to simply connect with him. I generally don’t have one specific prayer request or thing I’m asking for. My goal is just to be real and share the most intimate issues of my heart with him. Sometimes this looks like anger or confusion. Sometimes it looks like exasperation and fatigue. Sometimes the only thing I know to do is just be still in hopes that I’ll experience his peace. It’s the time when I’m the most real and vulnerable and it’s the time I connect with him the best.
For me, this is the most important spiritual discipline. The spot I pick needs to be away from people and I love it when it has some natural beauty. I gotta feel like nobody is looking at me and that I’m free to just uncork. One thing that I definitely want to be said about my life is that “Chris often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Could that be said about you? Jesus accomplished more in 3 years of ministry than any of us will accomplish in decades. If anyone had the ability to keep his mind clear and focused, it was Jesus. If he found the continual need to back away from people and the hustle and bustle of daily life, how much more should we?
Life has a way of ganging up on you. Things can accumulate in our hearts and minds leaving us feeling cluttered and disoriented. This simple practice of withdrawing to a lonely place to connect with God can be a game-changer. I don’t worry about what I’m gonna say when I get there and I don’t really make a plan…I just go. I don’t set a timer or worry too much about how long I’m going to be there either. It’s about quality, not quantity. My goal is to unplug and connect with the God who created me. I may not know anything about you, but I do know that you suffer from the same attacks that all humans face. I know that life has a way of crowding you out and making you feel small and stressed. I know there is a real enemy out there that is against the work of God in your life. My encouragement? Make at least a monthly practice of withdrawing to a lonely place and praying. For me, it’s best if I do this at least once a week. The rhythm is up to you, but I highly recommend you follow Jesus’ lead in this important spiritual discipline.