Have you ever just needed a “Me day”? A day where you can just get away by yourself and do the things that make you happy?
Maybe your ideal “Me day” or “Me time” involves going on a shopping spree, getting your nails done, going fishing or hanging out with your friends.
These types of activities would be referred to as your self-care routine and play an important part in your health and well -being.
But, self-care is more than taking a moment to get away from it all. It also involves taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
As a Christian, your spiritual health should be one of your main priorities. When you make a conscious effort to take care of your spiritual well being the other areas your life will improve.
Spiritual self-care is an important part of building and maintaining your spiritual foundation.
Today I’ll be covering an important, but often misunderstood spiritual discipline, solitude.
What is solitude?
What do you think of when you hear the word ” solitude”? What emotions or feelings does it bring to mind?
Before I understood the importance of solitude for Christians, the word inspired feelings of loneliness and isolation.
According to Psychology Today,” what we think of as solitude is more correctly identified as loneliness. While solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness.”
Solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness.Psychology Today
Why Is Solitude Important for Christians?
Periods of solitude are immensely important for believers. Even Jesus took time out of his ministry to find moments of solitude.
After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.Matt 14:23
Instances of Jesus going away by himself can also be found in Mark 6:46 and Luke 6:12.
It is when we create these moments of solitude that we experience growth in the following areas:
1.Communication and a Deeper Relationship with God the Father
Solitude provides you with an opportunity to communicate with God through prayer. The bible says that we should pray without ceasing ( 1 Thess 5:17).
But sometimes life gets in the way and we forget to pray.
Or perhaps the only prayers that have been said are grace and a hasty prayer at bedtime before you drift off to sleep.
This is not the type of prayer life that will cause your relationship with God to grow and develop.
For that to happen, you have to intentionally set aside time to pray without any distractions or interruptions.
Notice in the scripture above that Jesus did not take his disciples with him. This was his personal time to communicate with the Father.
Sometimes life can just be downright hard and discouraging. Or maybe you’ve worn yourselves to thin with various commitments and obligations.
Instead of just falling into bed hoping that you will be able to fight another day, seek a moment of solitude with the Lord.
The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…Psalms 23:1-3
Matthew 11:29 says,
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
When you seek to be alone with God he will restore your soul and give you rest.
Sometimes you have to make big decisions or maybe you feel God leading you down a specific path but you’re not sure what to do.
Maybe you desperately need an answer from Him, but it seems like your prayers aren’t being heard.
Jesus had a hard decision to make in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Instead of seeking the advice of his disciples he went to a place in the Garden by himself where he cried out to God,
“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”Matthew 26:39 KJV
During times of chaos, King David often sought God for direction and help.
When we take time to habitually practice moments of solitude God can give us guidance and direction. So how do you create moments of solitude?
Schedule A Spiritual Check-Up
Let’s face it most of us are so busy with our lives that we barely have time for ourselves.
The only way that you’ll ever experience moments of solitude with God is to intentionally schedule it into your plans.
Just like you make appointments to go to the doctor. You need to make appointments to meet with God.
I’m sure some of you are thinking that this is something you can do or get during your regular quiet time.
But the discipline of solitude and quiet time are two very different things.
Solitude vs Quiet Time
I used to assume that the spiritual discipline of solitude was the same as my daily quiet time.
Quiet time is something that you do daily and usually involves the basic disciplines of prayer, reading the bible, memorizing scripture, etc.
Your daily quiet time is where you learn and equip yourself with the tools necessary to live a life holy and acceptable to God.
It can also become a habitual routine that ultimately becomes ineffective because you are just going through the motions and not connecting with God.
Solitude is different, as stated before solitude can lead to self-awareness because it involves self-reflection.
The Apostle Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are still in the faith (2 Cor 13:5).
This is not something that most of us get during our daily quiet time.
But, when you practice the discipline of solitude it often leads to repentance and a deeper understanding of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
This is not the time where we pray to God about other people or our physical needs. This is the time where we become like King David and cry out to God,
God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast[a] spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.”Psalms 51:10-19
Unlike quiet time, solitude often leads to a radical and profound change in the life of a believer.
This is not just a quick in and out session with God. This is the time where you get real with God about who you are and how you feel.
It is a time where you can experience:
- true healing from past hurts and disappoints,
- deliverance from hidden sin,
- breaking of strongholds in your life,
- and the power to do everything he has created us to do.
That is the difference between quiet time and solitude.
Many people don’t like to practice the spiritual discipline of solitude because it exposes those areas of our lives that we would prefer to keep covered and hidden.
Trust me the enemy doesn’t want you to do a spiritual check up.
He’s happy with you being alright with where you are in Christ and thinking you’ve got it all together.
However, those moments of solitude are an important part of every believers life, no matter how new or how old you are in the faith.
When we draw near to God he will draw near to us (James 4:8), but you can’t draw near to him if you refuse to get real with him.
Moments of solitude do not come easy and you have to be intentional about making and keeping your spiritual check -up.
As you draw closer to the Father, your spiritual foundation is strengthened and you become a better disciple of Christ.
Have you practiced the discipline of solitude? How has the lack of or use of this discipline affected your walk with Christ? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave me a comment in the comments section.
As always, keep Jesus in the center of everything you do.