Sometimes at work I have one of "those days"... You know, the day that never ends? Usually these days consist of everything that I have done wrong or forgotten or did but didn't give it to my boss, they all come colliding in mid air on that one day. It's the day when I'm afraid to leave my desk in case something explodes and evidently, would be my fault. At the peak of this day I will have forgotten my lunch, spilt something on myself and of course have been on the verge of crying all morning... cause I'm a girl... It's on days like these that I need to run away and hide, so where do I go, to the washroom. Yes you read that correctly. Our washroom at work has one stall, and it's a fairly small stall... but it is where I go when I need to get away, when I need to calm down and center myself. The women at my work have an unspoken rule of when someones in the one stall washroom we just walk to the other washroom downstairs, therefore I accomplish complete solitude from others. I know this sounds a bit weird and somewhat unsanitary but honestly, it's a safe place in there. No one will question why I'm in there for so long, because no one wants to know. No one will search for me or make me come out. I just get to sit in there for 5 peaceful minutes, knowing that I'm in my own little corner, with my own thoughts, and my own complete silence.
Throughout my life I have had different places of solitude.When I lived with roommates, my place of solitude was my room. It was the same when I was younger and lived with my parents and brother, my room was off limits to everyone (my mom of course had the full reign of the house, however she respected this). Living with my husband of 3 months, my place of solitude is... anywhere but home. In fact I'm in the middle of finding a new place of solitude, a place where I can close the door and just be with myself. Realizing that I did not have this place of escape really brought to light the importance of a place of solitude.
I cannot lay claim that this idea is my own. Throughout the years it had snuck into my mind by preachers, teachers, mentors and friends all telling me... "Get a space where you can just be!". Of course being my stubborn self it took me until I was 26 to understand the weight of what they were telling me. Get away from distractions, get away from your overcrowding thoughts, retreat from your duties and separate yourself from communication... just be.
Jesus used to do this all of the time and what better example can you think of than him? The most well known example would be in his final days where he went to the garden of Gethsemane, let's take a gander shall we?
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.
Let us examine three key points that I see in this passage.
It wasn't a 5 minute ordeal...
While short prayers up to God aren't a bad thing, I think we can all agree they can't be considered as quality time. In order to strengthen any relationship the time invested needs to be quality. It is quite obvious that Jesus was praying for an hour if not more, because each time he came back to his disciples they had fallen asleep. Now I know few people in this world who can zonk out in 60 seconds... my husband is one of them... so it is only fair to assume that Jesus wasn't there and back in 5 minutes flat. Another thing to consider is the fact that he was in such a state of grief and pain, I don't think he was satisfied with a 5 minute conversation. He wanted to sort this out, he wanted his questions answered! He knew that to accomplish this, he wanted time with his Father.
He didn't do it once...
A lot of the time we tend to expect change right away. We know all too well the diet pill syndrome, the one pill trick to chase your unwanted fat away. Well just like there isn't a pill out there that can do that with long term effects, the same goes for prayer. Like any relationship, God just doesn't want to hear from you once and a while, he wants to hear from you on a regular basis. You cannot build a solid foundation for a ever lasting, deep relationship off of one visit every month, especially if that one visit consists of us just going on and on about what we want. Believe it or not, God wants to hear about our struggles and our pain, but He also wants to hear about the excitement in our life. What we are thankful for, what we cherish, what find joy in... If we truly see God as our "best friend" like so many children's salvation prayers state, we ought to go to Him with more than once and a while.
He was persistent in his prayer...
Jesus wasn't asking for something material, he was asking a question and awaiting an answer. He didn't get an answer the first time so he went back again... and again. If at first you don't succeed, try try again! God wants us to want to hear from Him. He wants us to pursue a relationship with Him as He pursues one with us. Jesus wanted to know if His fate could change, so he asked... a few times! But even when the answer came back, Jesus didn't kick the dirt cursing, going into a tantrum like state and pout giving God the silent treatment. He accepted God's answer, doesn't mean he was happy about it, but He accepted it and moved on. Maybe it's not that we don't want to hear an answer from God, but that we don't want to hear the "wrong" answer from God. Are you not persisting in your prayers because you are afraid of the answer?
Soon after his third time praying Jesus had his answer:
Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!
My best friend has even created a sanctuary in her home office, a corner that is blocked off by sheer fabric, with candles, speakers and a Bible. When she goes into that space it is sacred, it is her time with her Savior. She has purposely secluded an area for just her and God. For me? I'm discovering that I may have two places of solitude, our spare bedroom/office at home and when I go out for runs. More and more I am using my running time to eliminate my worries of the day and let God's words and inspiration enter my mind.
When you go into your place of Solitude or when you find a place of Solitude, what does it look like? What sets it apart?
I challenge you to find a place of solitude this week and if at first you don't succeed, try try again.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.