“Go find a quiet place and be quiet. And pray.”
Years ago, while still a student, a bible scholar challenged four of us to meet with him several times a week. I anticipated deep discussions, rich fellowship, and heady moments with a spiritual hero. It was all of that and more. Here was the more: “Go find a quiet place and be quiet. And pray.” I asked, “For how long?” He replied, “For as long as you want.”
I found a quiet place and set the goal of praying for one hour, three times a week. I gave it all I had. After several weeks, my prayers still hadn’t reached an hour, they reached about ten minutes. My mind wandered, I got distracted and fidgeted and repeatedly checked my watch. It was excruciating.
Centuries ago, a man named Arsenius was seeking a closer connection with God. He prayed, “Lord, lead me in the way of salvation.” The response, “Flee the world and you will be saved.” So, he left his palace to seek desert solitude. Again he prayed, “Lord, lead me in the way of salvation.” He heard, “Flee, be silent, and pray always, for these are the sources of a sinless life.”
Flee, be silent, and pray.
What Do You Think?
Should I abandon my palace for a life of solitude? Maybe go off the grid in search of deep spiritual reflection? Actually, I can imagine doing that but I can’t imagine doing it for very long. I have a family I love, a ministry to serve, and forgive me, but financial responsibilities as well. And Jesus called me to be light and salt in the world, among people. And college football starts in seven months.
Don’t judge me!
What Can I Do?
Can I separate from my cherished distractions long enough to listen for the voice of God? Is there a contemporary version of: flee, be silent, and pray ? Or are they only found on mountain tops and desert dunes?
To read more about distractions, please follow this link: The Blog of Solitude, Part 2
The mentor was teaching me the value of solitude, of quiet stillness, he was teaching me to hear the still, quiet voice of God. I didn’t understand. I was preoccupied with, “Doing it right and following the plan.” I wanted to be able to say that I was a devout man of God who prayed for an hour three times a week. Surely someone would be impressed.
I wasn’t ready. Solitude unnerved me. Silence bothered me. Praying frustrated me.
Am I ready for it now? Are you?
…to be continued.