The Discipline of Solitude

In our culture to be in silence is not a common thing. In fact, many would say that that being in silence is uncomfortable. When we think of the discipline of solitude, it’s probably not practiced today many the masses. Solitude in Scripture is disconnecting from the chaos around us to be alone with God. We see Jesus do this all through the Gospels. If it were important for Him, shouldn’t it be important to us as followers of Him?

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

Even in the OT we are challenged to be still. Again, in our fast paced society sometimes it’s hard to “be still” but I guarantee you it’s worth it.

Now to the Gospels and Jesus showing us in His life the importance of getting alone with God.

Do you ever pray over decisions that you make? The first example of Jesus getting alone to pray is before he calls the 12 people that will change the world.

“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
Luke 6:12-16

It’s interesting to me that the night before Jesus calls the 12 to follow Him, he spends all night in prayer. This was an important decision and Jesus knew them before this moment but He shows us that getting alone with God in prayer is important in our lives.

The next place where we see Jesus getting alone is after He finds out some tough news. John the Baptist has just been killed and we see Jesus in the middle of busyness. He hears the news and gets alone.

“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.”
Matthew 14:13

Good times will come. Hard times will come. Newness of life will come. Loss will come. Solitude and time alone with the Father are needed in all.

The last place that we will see today is set in the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s gospel starts out different. It’s different than Matthew and Luke and we see Jesus’ ministry is a go in chapter 1.
This is a powerful passage, considering the whole town shows up.

“And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.”
Mark 1:29-32, 34-39

You can see the craziness going on in this passage and in the early hours of the morning after some intense time in ministry we see this happen again. Jesus rises and gets alone with the Father and the disciples look for Him to tell Him others are looking for and needing Him. Jesus in this text says no to some good or even great things. After the ministry and time with the Father in solitude, He moves forward and continues His journey.

Spending time, interrupted time, with the Father is not only important. It’s vital. We see more examples of Christ doing this and again if He does it and needs it, we would need it even more. Solitude is refreshing to the soul. I encourage you to carve out time daily to get alone and to spend time in the word and in pray with the Father.

-Ryan Young
Collegiate Minister
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