One father made it point to eat out with each of his
children once every month.
After the meal, he’d take them to a dollar store and let
them pick out something that they'd liked for him to buy.
His kids remembered those special moments of time shared
with Dad (Shedd).
Another father reported something similar: “There are times
when I am able to go out with just one of my kids – either
to do something special, or to run errands.
Inevitably during these times, they will say to me, ‘Dad,
I really like these times when we’re together, just you and
In the last verses of Exodus 24, we read that the Lord’s
glory rested on Mt. Sinai, that God called Moses, and that
Moses traveled up the mountain, and that Moses remained
there for 40 days (Ex. 24:16-18).
The writers of Psalm 46, after proclaiming that God is a
refuge for Israel, gave this command, “Be still, and know
that I am God” (v. 10).
In 1 Kings 17:2, we read: “Then the word of the Lord
came to Elijah saying: ‘Get away from here and turn
eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith … and I have
commanded the ravens to feed you there.’”
Luke 1:80 says of John the Baptizer that he grew,
became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the
time came for him to be manifested before the Jews.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days
before He began His public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).
Paul mentions that he spent some time after his
conversion in Arabia, sort of a wasteland, before returning
to Damascus (Galatians 1:17.
At this time of year, there are often family reunions.
But when was the last time, you got away from our hectic
pace of life, took a moment to be still, and remembered that
God is God?
Often, it may require going to the wilderness, to a
mountain, or your own hiding place by some brook.
When was the last time you told God, “Dad, I really like
these times when we’re together, just you and I.”
When was your last personal reunion with Him?
Being alone with God seems pretty scary for many
We’re so addicted to noise, to crowds, and to activity that
silence, isolation, and stillness make many feel uneasy.
The word “solitude” may conjure up more negative ideas
than positive ones for you.
Let’s consider the topic of spiritual solitude together.
You might discover that it could be good for you and
offer you some great benefits.
So this morning, let’s look at the who, what, when,
where, why, and the how of this concept called spiritual
We’ve already seen just a little bit with regard to the who.
We saw that Moses, Elijah, John the Baptizer, and Paul
were all spiritual leaders who practiced solitude at times.
Perhaps the greatest example of one who used solitude was
our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
Mark 1:35 states: “Now in the morning, having risen a
long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a
solitary place, and there He prayed.”
A little further into His public ministry, we continue to
learn of Jesus’ frequent withdrawals.
Luke 5:16 reports: “So He Himself often withdrew into
the wilderness and prayed.”
Before choosing the twelve, Jesus again retreated to the
mountains and spent all night in prayer (Luke 6:12).
After the news of John the Baptizer’s death, Jesus wanted
to get away, and he actually told His disciples: “Come
aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”
But the crowds followed them, and He had to postpone that
retreat until after the feeding of the 5000 (Mt. 14:23).
Matthew 17:1-2 states: “Now after six days, Jesus took
Peter, James, and John his brother led them up a high
mountain by themselves, and He was transfigured before
Before His death, Jesus also took the same three men, and
then He went on a little further Himself to pray in solitude
to prepare Himself for His final ordeal (Matthew 26:36ff).
Jesus demonstrated a wonderful balance.
Someone puts it this way: “Thus, external action should
be derived from internal reality, and this requires a rhythm
of solitude and engagement, restoration and application,
intimacy with [God] and activity in the world.
The life of Jesus illustrates this pattern of seeking
significant amount of time to be alone with the Father so
that He would have the inner power and poise to deal with
the outward pressures imposed upon Him by His friends and
If Jesus “made time” for solitude, shouldn't we follow
His example and do the same?
But what is spiritual solitude?
Let's look at few definitions.
One person said: “Solitude is abstaining from people
contact in order to be alone with God and get closer to Him”
Another person said this: “Loneliness is inner emptiness.
Solitude is inner fulfillment.
Solitude is not first a place but a state of mind and
Another person said: “In stark aloneness, it is possible ...
to set the Lord before our minds with sufficient intensity
and duration that we stay centered on Him—our hearts fixed
[and] established in trust ...” (Willard).
One final definition is this one: “The
practice of solitude involves scheduling enough
uninterrupted time in a distraction-free environment that
you experience isolation and are alone with God” (Calhoun).
Often, solitude can provide a fence in which other
spiritual activities, like prayer and biblical meditation,
can take place (Ibid.).
So we see that spiritual solitude involves those periods of
time when we are alone with God and focus intentionally upon
When should we practice spiritual solitude?
Jesus' life shows us that the practice of solitude can
take place at most any time.
It can be done at the dawn of day or during the night.
It is especially appropriate, however, when the storms of
life threaten our souls.
Jesus wanted to get away when the storm of death overtook
his cousin John.
Jesus did get away when the temptation to give in to the
crowd was strong.
Maybe this could be called the storm of pressure to do
things Satan's way.
Lastly, we saw how Jesus prepared for the dangers of
spiritual battle by using solitude.
We might call this the storm of persecutions.
Any uninterrupted time is good, but solitude is
especially helpful during the storms of death, temptations,
David wrote in Psalm 62:5-8: “My soul, wait silently for
God alone, for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation.
He is my defense.
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and glory; the rock of my strength
and my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out
your hearts before Him.
God is refuge for us.”
Fast forward now to our
day. A church
leader, who has made spiritual solitude a habit, suggests
that each member take out, as a minimum, one day every three
months for times of solitude.
This person also adds: “If you have an issue to resolve
in your life, think about all the time that you have taken
worrying about it and trying to work it out, wouldn’t it be
good to take a day to ask God what he thinks?
My retreats help me to study, to get connected with God
as my friend, and ... to do some very important planning
I do all of this in the presence of God” (Wilkins).
If a day of solitude can’t be worked out, then maybe you
can practice periods of solitude daily.
Many Christians have called this their “quiet time”.
Usually, they will take 10-60 minutes out of their day to
find a place where they can be alone and focus on God’s
Someone else has emphasized that finding solitude might not
be as hard as we think: “There can be little moments of
refreshment and silence throughout our day… we just have to
look for them and enjoy them when they arrive.
[It might be while drinking a cup of coffee or right
after reading the newspaper or right after a cleaning job.]
These small moments are [often] lost to us, but [they]
can be found again as a way to orient ourselves back to God,
much like a hiker taking out their compass every so often
for a few moments to check the direction they’re heading” (Borst)!
Now let's consider the where of solitude.
Someone made this suggestion: “We must reemphasize, the
'desert' or 'closet' is the primary place of strength for
the beginner, as it was for Christ and for Paul” (Willard).
Luke 22:39 tells us that Jesus would often go to the
Mount of Olives: “Coming out, He went to the Mount of
as He was accustomed, and His disciples followed Him.”
John 18:1-2 tells us that Judas knew this place where
Jesus often met with His disciples: “When Jesus had
spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the
Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His
And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place, for
Jesus often met there with His disciples.”
So the Garden of Gethsemane was a favorite place of
solitude for Jesus.
As we saw earlier in this lesson, other locations served as
places of solitude: mountains, brooks, and deserts.
These locations are secluded and away from life's hustle
and bustle and frenetic pace.
One author, who wrote in 1917, reported that President
Lincoln had a private room in the White House near where he
slept where he prayed and practiced solitude.
At times, he would lock the door, but sometimes it would
be left open, and several visitors heard him praying.
His favorite times to pray were at midnight and at 4:00
how one of the definitions said that solitude was not so
much a place as a state of mind.
This is true to some degree since we can reflect upon God
being the creatures of habit that we are, having a specific
place for solitude, like Jesus and Lincoln did, would
probably be helpful for us as well.
It does not have to be complex or far away—it could be a
specific spot outdoors or a particular chair.
You might even give your family a cue by saying, “Please
don’t bother me when I’m here; I’d like to spend a few
moments alone with God” (Borst).
Now let’s consider the how of solitude.
First, get away and get alone.
Here’s a time where we intentionally disconnect from
others and our busyness to be able to connect with God.
Secondly, get your heart prepared.
Another minister in our brotherhood made this
observation: “Most important of all, nothing inspires a
sense of [God’s] Presence like passionate love for God.
Precisely for this reason, Jesus said love for God is the
Genuine love is the irresistible desire to be in the
presence of the one loved. … When one loves God supremely, a
sense of Divine absence is intolerable.
Every moment away from [God’s] Presence seems an
eternity. … Nothing quickens perception like love. …
Keenness of observation is born under the influence of love
for God that drives away the obscuring clouds of selfishness
Love God more, and you will become more aware of Him”
Thirdly, get your Bible opened.
Getting close to God’s Word helps us to get closer to
get your body humbled.
The Bible does not teach a correct posture in coming before
God, but it does show that nearly everyone who encountered
Him in some way humbled themselves to show reverence (Exodus
3:6; Ezek. 1:28; Luke 5:8; Rev. 1:17).
Peter admonishes us in 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble
yourselves, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt
you in due time.”
Let’s review: get away and get alone, get your heart
prepared, get your Bible opened, and get your body humbled.
Here’s another interesting method.
One congregation had an annual solitude and planning
the program, the following was done: first of all, large
groups prayed together—the elders and deacons were in one
group and the members were in their various zone groups;
then family units were encouraged to come before God
together; then, while college students and teens kept the
children, each person was encouraged to seek out a spot away
from all the others and to have their own private meeting
with the Lord.
On the following day of this retreat, there would be
several planning sessions.
This congregation's leadership showed wisdom by helping
its members to practice spiritual solitude.
Many of the ideas presented in the planning sessions were
born during those times of isolation when everyone was away
from each other
Lastly, and most importantly, let’s look at the why of
Here are five good reasons that others have suggested for
getting into the practice of spiritual solitude.
First of all, solitude helps us to express ourselves
before God’s throne.
“When [we] have been alone with God, [our]
relationship[s] with Him becomes deeper, and [we] can
worship [and petition] Him better. … Our intimacy with God
is reflected by our commit to God, [and] our commitment to
God is reflected by the amount of time we spend with God.
Jesus gives us [an] invitation to spend [such] time with
Him when He says in Rev. 3:20: ‘Behold, I stand at the
door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with
Solitude helps us to express ourselves before God’s throne.
Secondly, solitude helps us to build our trust in God’s
brothers in our fellowship explained it this way: “Being
[present] with Him for 15-60 minutes daily is a way of
acknowledging that He is God and we are not.
He can run the world without us.
It is a way of admitting that we rely on the power of
God, not on our own brilliance, planning, and efforts.
It is a confession that God is an active God, who
works [through] prayer” (Holloway and Lavender).
We grow more dependent on God’s strength and less
dependent upon our own.
Our confidence grows that truly He is the Lord of the
universe, and He is in control, even when circumstances may
Solitude helps us to build our trust in God’s strength.
Thirdly, solitude helps us to see life from God’s
Remember that great occasion when Elijah had been triumphant
over Jezebel’s prophets, and then he has to run for his own
finally ends us at a cave on a mountain.
God asks him why is there in 1 Kings 19:13.
And Elijah responds that he has been very zealous for
God, but the Israelites have been very wicked.
He claims that he is the only man alive that is faithful
to God, and his life is being sought.
Well, God then answers Elijah, and what does He say?
In essence, “Get back to work, Elijah!
I’ve got some men you need to appoint, like Hazael, Jehu,
They will bring about punishment upon the wicked.
And, by the way, there still are 7,000 in Israel who are
faithful to Me.”
After that discourse, Elijah got back in the battle, never
doubted God again, and forged ahead doing God’s will until a
chariot took him to God!
Solitude helps us to see life from God’s perspective.
Fourthly, solitude helps us to be more sensitive to God’s
once said, “‘It is in deep solitude that I find the
gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers.
The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for
them…. [Solitude] and silence teach me to love my brothers
for what they are, not for what they say.’
[You see,] … in solitude, we find God, and He fills us
with His love and compassion, and [His] Spirit, and it
affects our outward life.
[Maybe] this is why Jesus retreated by Himself so much: He
was filling Himself back up with God’s love and power and
glory so that He could again love the people [whom] He
Solitude helps us to be sensitive to God’s family.
Lastly, solitude helps us to be recharged for God’s
writers observed: “Even if you keep a clean house, the
bright sun shining through a window can reveal all kinds of
Likewise, in the light of the glory and goodness of God,
our own faults are revealed.
We see ourselves as we really are: sinful, broken, proud,
But in the pain of that self-revelation, there is also joy.
God loves us as we are.
Christ and the Spirit are at work in us, making us clean
in God’s sight, [using us to make an impact on others’
The cleaning power of solitude is both painful and
the greatest difficulty of [solitude] is that it calls for
full surrender to God.
It is frightening to honestly open our hearts to others,
even to God. In
this silence, God may [guide] us to a life we are trying to
avoid, a life we do not control, a life of suffering, a life
of [new] service” (Holloway and Lavender).
Solitude helps us to be recharged for God’s service.
Let’s review once again.
Because it helps to express ourselves before God’s
throne, because it helps to build our trust in God’s
strength, because it helps to see life from God’s
perspective, because it helps to be more sensitive to God’s
family, and because it helps to be recharged for God’s
When was the last time, you got away from our hectic pace of
life, took a moment to be still, and remember that God is
Sometimes, it may require going to the wilderness, to a
mountain, or your own hiding place by some brook.
When was the last time that you thought about how your
intimacy with God could affect your activity in your world?
If you haven’t ever practiced solitude, why not start
today? Why not
ask others here to pray that you’ll have a success start?
Or why not confess to God that your tired of trying to
face life alone on your own strength.
Why not confess that Jesus is God’s Son and you need His
strength and power to help you overcome the pressures of the
world? Can you
honestly say, “Heavenly Father, I really like these times
when we’re together, just you and I”?