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Make a commitment to spend time alone with God

By AL EARLEY

Religion Columnist

Isaiah 41:1-4 begins, “Listen to me in silence. For I, the Lord your God, have done all this. I, the Lord, am first, and will be with the last.”

If we listen in silence, maybe we will understand this truth. The truth that God is the first and the last, and we won’t just give the words lip service, we will believe it with every fiber of our being.

For the last month, I have looked at different spiritual disciplines. Today’s spiritual disciplines of solitude and silence are especially important in understanding God and God’s will for our lives.

In solitude, we are alone with God and ourselves. We allow no distractions in our never-ending need to ground our lives in God. In silence, we are quiet so that we can hear the voice of God revealing the truth about who we are, and his plan for our lives.

I define a spiritual discipline as anything we do regularly that draws us closer to God. For these two disciplines to become spiritual disciplines, we need to find time alone in a quiet place to listen for the voice of God regularly.

It is hard to find silence with all the little machines whirring in our lives. Go to your house and listen to the sounds: the cars driving by, the dog moving, the clocks ticking, the TV or radio blaring.

Have you ever experienced the deafening silence of driving a car in a thick fog, riding a horse in a heavy snow storm, or sitting in a pitch-black cave by yourself? What was it like to be surrounded by such unnatural solitude and silence? Do you find it peaceful, refreshing, energizing or unreal, unnatural, uncomfortable?

Many are afraid of such solitude and silence, but this is the time God often chooses to speak to us. In I Kings 19:10-13, Elijah is looking for God’s words from the mountain. After his great bull burning victory and slaughter of the prophets of Baal, he thinks he has won a victory for God, but Queen Jezebel wants her revenge. Elijah flees. He can’t believe after his strong faith God doesn’t seem to protect him.

On the mountain, he looks for the powerful signs of God’s presence, like in the bull-burning victory. He looks for God in the windstorm, earthquake and fire storm, but God is not there. Finally, in the “still, small voice” or “gentle whisper,” he hears God speak to him and guide him according to his will.

I challenge you to find a quiet time alone. Our time of solitude becomes a spiritual discipline when we are not just alone, but alone with God regularly. Our time of silence becomes a spiritual discipline when we are not just quiet, but quiet enough to hear God’s still, small voice; God’s gentle whisper.

People don’t usually think of these as separate disciplines apart from prayer. But practicing these and seeing they are different will enhance one’s prayer life immeasurably. Silence makes us face the stark reality of ourselves, so we are ready to admit our sinfulness, finitude, and fears and turn to God for our strength, wisdom, and direction in life.

Solitude keeps us from conforming to the world, which will set us against God, and lets us be of the world, but not in the world, that God can transform us by the renewing of our minds. May you become comfortable with silence, so that you can turn off the radio/TV and other noises in your life. Then find retreat time for you and God to enjoy some silence and solitude together. 

Walk around your house right now and turn off everything that makes noise, then sit and relax and listen to how quiet your world can become. Make plans to get away for a few hours or a day to a quiet place with only your Bible, pray in solitude and listen to the gentle whisper of God to speak to your soul.

I encourage you to get on the computer and search for a “one-day prayer retreat.” There are many to choose from.

When can you give yourself a retreat with God, and spend some solitude and silence with the Creator? What do you think will happen in that time? The best way to hear the voice of God is to spend time with God and listen quietly for his voice.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit www.lagrangepres.com.

Make a commitment to spend time alone with God