Why Time Alone With God Is So Good
Why Time Alone With God Is So Good
If you read about Jesus in the gospels, one of the things you’ll notice is that he’s always praying. When I first read through the gospels, that didn’t make sense to me. I thought maybe Jesus was just kind of going through the motions when he prayed. I mean, why did Jesus need to pray? Who was he praying to, himself? Maybe he was just kind of putting on a show. Maybe he was showing us how much we need to pray.
But the more I read the gospels, the more I realized that Jesus just loved to spend time with his dad. As Jesus said in John 5, “Truly I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son likewise does these things.” If Jesus was always depending on the Father, then he wanted to spend serious time communing with the Father, getting away by himself to pray.
So the question for us is this: do we feel the same way? Are we desperate to spend time alone with God, like Jesus was? Many of us pray with other people: we pray at church on Sunday mornings, we pray with our community group, we pray with our family before dinner. But how much time do we spend alone with God, depending on him?
In Mark, we can see Jesus getting up early to pray: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying” (Mark 1:35). This was on a Monday morning (OK, technically it was a Sunday, but with the Sabbath, their Sunday was our Monday). I don’t know about your home, but Mondays are the craziest mornings in our house. After the weekend, you have to get back into routine of getting kids up. Making sure homework is done, and ready to go. Packing lunches and backpacks. Getting the kids to school, then getting yourself to work. Monday is busy!
And for most of us, the busier we get, the less we pray. When more stuff gets packed into our schedule, the first thing that gets squeezed out is usually our time alone with God. That’s why I love what Martin Luther wrote in his journal (probably on a Monday morning): “I have so much to do today that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”
I know exactly what he’s talking about. With the building initiative our church is pursuing, I’ve been waking up at 4:30 every morning. No alarm, I’m just up. My mind just has so many things racing through it. At first I was really frustrated that I was losing sleep. But then I realized that God was getting me up to spend serious time with him. And it’s not just during especially trying times. We always need to get significant time alone to pray.
Some Christians say, “Not me. I just cruise with God through the day. I’m always talking to God, so I don’t really need to set aside time for prayer. I don’t need to put it on my calendar and get crazy like that, do I?”
Well, Jesus sure did. He was always talking to his Father, but he also understood how crucial it is to get alone for serious time to pray. There are just so many benefits.
It gives you greater focus in your prayer. I love to get away for 2 or 3 hours, with no phone. I go out to Sherwoods beach, sit at a picnic bench for a few hours with just me and my Bible and my journal. It gives so much focus.
Time alone with God gives you greater intimacy in your prayer. Because serious time alone allows you to get beyond the mechanics of praying. You know, like, “Let’s see, have I completed A-C-T-S? I did adoration, confession, and supplication, but I think I missed thanksgiving.” When you set serious time for prayer, you get beyond that, and you just start to enjoying being with your dad like Jesus did.
Time alone with God also gives you greater freedom in your prayer. Because if you get by yourself, you can talk to God out loud. That’s the best way to pray. You don’t lose your train of thought so quick. When you pray out loud with people walking around, they think you’re nuts. But if you can get off somewhere in the wilderness, like Jesus was, you can talk to God, sing to God, even shout to God.
Setting aside time to be alone with God is the best way to fully depend on God and commune with God.