40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 21

Today, we are on Day 21, and we begin our time focusing on the practice of Solitude.

(You can catch up on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 15, Day 17 Day 18, Day 19, Day 20 if you missed them)

Solitude and silence

On Day 10, we talked about joy in prayer. As we continue our life of prayer we begin to see that it takes a lot to beat the joy and wonder that we can experience in our time with God. Like Abraham, we discover that Jesus is our very great reward (Gen 15:1). Over the next five days we’ll focus on a practice that might be even more neglected than Sabbath— withdrawing to a solitary place like Jesus did to spend time with our Father (Luke 5:16).

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:6

But spending time with God in solitude and silence can also be terribly hard. It’s easy to fill our minds continuously with conversations and distractions. For many, the moment we sit in silence is the moment all the thoughts and feelings we have been avoiding come to mind. Pascal said famously that all humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

So we praise God for His presence! For we are never sitting quietly in a room alone, mulling over the thoughts and feelings we ignore—our faults, the wrongs we’ve done, or the wrongs done to us. We are sitting with our Abba, our Father, the Creator of all who makes time immediately for us the moment we ask. We are sitting with our Friend Jesus. This transforms our time.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The pace of modern-day life is very different than in the day of Jesus, and He still had to remove Himself regularly to find time with God in solitude. And they didn’t have earbuds, smartphones, social media, email and text messages. Today we could spend a whole day never once experiencing silence. Modern life is full of noise and distraction, making it more important than ever before to spend time with God with no other inputs. How can we hear Him when there is so much vying for our attention at any given moment?

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13

We need solitude and silence to hear the still small voice, the gentle whisper of God.

Some of you will be well accustomed to listening and solitude with God, and some of you are about to try it for the first time! If you are new to this, start small. If you are well acquainted with this practice, choose a more extended time that is a stretch for you.

Choose a time when you can be alone, whether you need to shut yourself in a closet or room, go outside to a secluded spot, or wake up early before anyone else gets up. During your prayer time with God, ask Him to fill you with His love, pour out His peace upon you, and speak anything He wants you to know. Then set a timer for 2 minutes or 20 or an hour or more. If you haven’t done this before, you know it won’t be easy, but continued practice will be life-changing.  If you are really experienced in this you could look at a more extended time of practice!

Father, we see how our lives and minds are filled with distractions. We come to you and ask you to help us clear them away so we can hear your voice and spend time with you. Sensitize our hearts to your whisper. Build us up and strengthen us. Help us carve out time each day to spend in the secret place with you. In the name of Jesus we pray together, amen.

♥ Samantha