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Discernment in Solitude

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

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 NIV

Reading through Henri Nouwen’s classic work Discernment this past week, I came across this gem: “Communion with God alone in prayer leads inevitably to community with God’s people, and then to ministry in the world. But it is good to begin this spiritual movement in solitude. Our first task in solitude is to simply allow ourselves to become aware of the divine presence, to “Be still , and know that I am God.” When we are alone with God, the Spirit prays in us. The challenge is to develop a simple discipline or spiritual practice to embrace some empty time and empty space every day.”

I was reminded of the importance of the discipline of solitude this summer. After 8 hours of engaging and challenging doctoral seminars each day at Denver seminary, I found myself drained every evening. I was so thankful to be camped with my family near the cool clear waters of the Platte river where I was able to lose myself in trout fishing for an hour or so in the evening. In those quite times of solitude with the Lord, I could feel my soul breathe. Through prayer and meditation I sensed the presence of God, and the Spirit helped to un-clutter and refresh my weary mind.

Solitude is a discipline that is sorely lacking for many who would follow Christ today. We live in a world that is harried, hurried, and full of distraction. Without intention it can be difficult to ever simply be alone and still before God. I for one struggle with maintaining rhythms of solitude and rest in my life. The tyranny of the urgent so often crowds in and I find myself having gone through a day without really getting alone with the Lord and hearing from Him. We would be wise to follow our Savior’s example and make it a regular habit to retreat to a solitary place for communion with God, and to just let our souls breath. May you find some time this week to do just that.

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