Happy New Year!... As we face the start of 2020 we are challenged once again to evaluate our lives in areas that we typically let “get away” from us or out of control. Most of us look to change our diet or exercise more. Or we commit to reading the Bible more intently or taking up a hobby. With that said, here are some other topics to consider: Simplicity, Prayer and Solitude.
The College and Career Groups from Evermore and Bethany were able to get away this past weekend to the Rosedale International Center (Columbus) to enjoy a retreat. We had a wonderful time of food and fun with almost 50 people attending. We also spent a good portion of the weekend studying these three topics:
How many of you feel like you are living a frenzied, frantic, breathless, hurried life? Do you feel like life is speeding out of control? Will it always be like this? Is life supposed to be like this?
“Many areas of our lives are productive and prosperous, yet we’ve never felt so
spiritually withered. Our calendars are full, but our souls are empty.”
-Donald Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life
Think about how you spend your time and how you typically feel throughout the day. If you carry many of the characteristics listed above….do you desire to make changes?
- Is God speaking to you about your lifestyle?
- How you spend your time?
- How much stuff do you accumulate?
- How much do you work?
- How much do you let your kids participate in?
- Is it time for you to say NO to some good things?
The ultimate goal in asking these questions is to help you draw closer to the Lord so that you KNOW him. How can we ever KNOW Him and listen to His promptings if we are so busy that we can’t even see straight? Pursuing this goal can help us find the freedom to cast off this culture of busyness, consumerism and activity...to slow down and hear God...To KNOW Him, and respond to Him when He calls us to engage people.
We also spent time evaluating our prayer lives. How do we pray? When do we pray? What do we pray? Tom Heil led us through the Scriptures to see how Jesus prayed and how He taught us to pray. We talked about simple conversation with God. We also discussed the different postures and positions of prayer. We even discussed the value of reciting prayers that were written by “saints of old” as well as praying the Scriptures. Lastly, we talked about the need to lament to God and that it is even encouraged for us to do that.
We then broke up into small groups and went through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-15. We took the Lord’s prayer phrase-by-phrase and put each one in our own words, as we understood it. WHAT AN AMAZING EXERCISE! We came away with a better understanding of what Jesus meant when He said, “Pray, then, in this way...”
Lastly, Brian Troyer gave us a tremendous lesson on Solitude. Amongst other things, he gave a great contrast of Solitude vs. Isolation:
When you’re alone, with God and with your own soul. This is very different from isolation. Solitude is engagement, isolation is escape, solitude is safety, isolation is danger, solitude is opening yourself up to God, isolation is opening you up to the tempter, solitude is setting aside time to nourish your soul, and isolation is what you crave when you neglect your soul of nourishment.
We have no idea how good it is for our soul to find “a desolate place” like Jesus often would. I encourage you in the new year to study the following Scriptures and see how good Solitude is for your soul:
- Matthew 3:13-4:11
- Mark 1: 21-39
- Mark 6:30-34
- Luke 5:12-16
These Scriptures prove solitude’s worth in the life of our Savior. It is time to practice the discipline of agenda-less solitude.
Jesus practiced Simplicity, Prayer and Solitude. If it was important enough for Jesus... well, you know the rest...