Summary: God has called us to be constantly fanning the spiritual flames inside us, and it is up to us to train ourselves to make the Spiritual Disciplines part of our routine, or lifestyle.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NIV)
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
God has called us to be constantly fanning the spiritual flames inside us, and it is up to us to train ourselves to make the Spiritual Disciplines part of our routine, or lifestyle.
Last week we learned what means to truly “Hear God’s Voice” in that we do not just hear, but we listen by “Receiving and Responding”.
Well today’s Spiritual Discipline is one that could almost be seen as “Part 2” of Committing to Hear God’s Voice; and that is “Practicing Solitude.”
If we look across the landscape of our fellow believers, we would most definitely see many varying degrees of spiritual growth. But if we were to examine closer those who seem to have been able to walk faithfully with the Lord for many years we would see something that the world might see as failure.
They would see that because, it is not the “Moments of Christian Glory” that have come to define them, but rather it’s finding a way to stay steadfast in the trials of life. When everything else says “quit” they have persevered having found resources of grace in ways others do not.
These people understand the value of solitude. They recognize the importance of meeting God in a quiet place. What I am not talking about are diversions. I firmly believe that we all need time to “get away” (vacation, hobbies, etc.).
The Spiritual Discipline of Solitude is a more reflective action.
Jack Hayford once said, “Solitude is being alone with the Lord in a quiet quest for God.”
So let’s examine further this Spiritual Discipline.
1. A Biblical Practice
Not unlike the other Spiritual Discipline’s, Practicing Solitude is an old concept. We have many examples in our bible, and all were done with the purpose of simply seeking the Lord in a solitary space.
A. Biblical Examples
Exodus 24:15-18 (NIV)
When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
We can read throughout the book of Exodus that after Moses spends 40 days and nights with the Lord he became profoundly impacting and history shaping! Ten Commandments
Elijah is fleeing from Jezebel and in the wilderness he has an encounter with God.
1 Kings 19:11 (NIV)
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
God then puts on an amazing display of His power, and begins the process of rediscovery of purpose in Elijah.
When David flees from Saul, he composed some of the greatest and most inspiring psalms in a wilderness hideaway. This psalm was composed while fleeing from his son Absalom:
Psalm 3:8 (NIV)
From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
While exiled to the island of Patmos, Jesus meets the apostle John and “reveals” to him the book of Revelation.
Revelation 1:1-2 (NIV)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
B. Jesus’ Example
We also have many examples in the New Testament of Jesus practicing solitude:
We see in Matthew 4 that Jesus inaugurates His time in ministry by spending 40 days alone in the desert. He would also retreat to a quiet place before any major event that He was going to minister in.
Luke 5:15-16 (NIV)
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. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
I love how this verse says that Jesus not only withdrew after serving, but also did it “often”. Jesus understood the value of solitude after ministry.
Before Choosing Disciples
Luke 6:12-13 (NIV)
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles