Flourishing through Solitude with God
Have you watched any news lately? It’s numbing isn’t it? Is it possible to flourish in a world that is truly floundering? Is it possible to abound with joy in a world that is abounding with chaos and confusion?
The Psalmist in Psalm 92 believes so. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;” (Psalms 92:12-14)
The thriving, flourishing, abundant Christian life is not a product of external conditions, but internal conditions. It’s not about what’s going on around you, but rather what’s going on within you. The flourishing life is not a product of good circumstances, but rather of solitude with a good God.
Yet, solitude with God is a rarity in 21st century life isn’t it? It seems that every waking moment, there is something demanding, dividing, and decreasing our attention span—from buzzing devices to broadcasts of nothing but bad news. A river information flows at as with overwhelming force every day. It’s depleting. These things drain and reduce us to empty exhaustion and despair—not the life God calls us to live.
The only real solution is solitude with God. You were created for it. You long for it. The Christian life is a relationship with Jesus, and the only way to enjoy delight in a world of desperation is to regularly, privately, personally commune with your Saviour.
External conditions impact you, but internal conditions anchor you. So lets explore solitude with God for a few moments. Let’s rediscover the delight of walking privately with God. Psalm 73 is one of my favorite passages that reveals God’s heart for your private prayer life—your solitude with Him:
Solitude with God Frees You to be Real
Psalms 73:2-3 “2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Have you ever noticed how many of the Psalms are literally complaints? The Bible uses the word mourn or lament, but no matter how you slice it, much of God’s Word is raw, unvarnished expression of painful emotion. Have you ever wondered how God’s inspired Word could include such unrestrained expression of unrefined humanity?
Simply, God knows our hurt. In solitude with Him, He invites us to pour it all out—to cast all our cares (and complaints) upon Him. Solitude with God sets you free to be real—no pretense, no masquerade. He knows how you feel and desires to hear about it.
When it comes to processing the pain of life, there are only three options. The first option is to express it, as in “just get it off your chest through fleshly release.” This is a carnal response. The second option is to repress it, as in “put a lid on it and pretend it is spiritual to not feel. The repression route is what a lot of Christians think is spiritual. The third option (the only biblical option) is to confess it before Him. God invites you to openly confess—to pour out your heart before Him. He’s the only landing place where your complaints can be reorientated to His goodness. (See Lamentations 3)
Solitude with God is Strength for Your Soul
Psalms 73:17 “17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.”
Private prayer does more than release your emotions before God. It places harmful emotions into His hands where He can transform them. What begins with lament and complaint, a few verses later is transformed into remembrance of God’s goodness and grace, which revives promise, hope, and worship. In the final position, strength of soul and even celebration returns. Why? Because in God’s presence, your soul is renewed by His grace.
How often do we pray because we “ought to” rather than because we “want to!” How often do we laden prayer time with a sense of obligation rather than invitation. We fall into the trap of requirements rather than a walk of joy. In such thinking we completly lose the attraction of God’s love and heart. Time with Him is not a drudgery, it’s a delight! Solitude with God is not work, it’s rest. It doesn’t drain you of energy, it renews your energy. Prayer isn’t work anymore than a date night with my wife is work. Solitude with God is not a “have to” thing, it’s a “want to” thing. Perhaps even deeper than that, it’s a “need to” thing. (See Isaiah 40:29-31)
Solitude with God Unburdens Your Heart
Psalms 73:25, 26 “25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
There’s a fantastic story in Isaiah 37 about King Hezekiah. The violent, blasphemous, pagan King Sennacharib has sent a letter detailing how he plans to destroy Hezekiah and his kingdom. Hezekiah was obviously distressed at the news that he was next on Sennarcharib’s “international hit list.” But rather than panic with anxiety, he chose to go to God.
Hezekiah went to God’s house with the letter, and literally spread it before the Lord. Essentially he was saying, “God, here is my problem. I’m giving it to you. This is your problem now.” Isn’t that what God means when He invites us to cast all our cares upon Him? He wants to do all the pulling, all the carrying, all the burden bearing.
Solitude with God is when you take all the “threatening letters” of life and lay them out before God. Private prayer is when you say, “God here are all my problems. I give them to you. They are your problems now.”
With that exercise comes sweet peace and true rest. Quite literally, this is what makes you free to laugh. An unburdened heart is an unanxious heart, it’s a light heart, it’s a laughing heart.
This means that every burden of your life is an open invitation into solitude and rest with God! Every problem is another opportunity to see what God can do with things that are bigger than you.
Perhaps this is what Moses desired for the children of Israel to experience when he said, “25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:25-27)
Solitude with God Recalibrates Your Reality
Psalms 73:26-28 “26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”
The Psalmist, who began with emotions so negative and so powerful that he actually regretted belonging to God, ends the Psalm having experienced a total recalibration of his heart. His whole reality has been reorientated. In the light of God’s presence, power, promises, and grace—everything looks different! The magnitude of the pain and regret is massively reduced in the shadow of God’s goodness!
Bear in mind, the Psalmist’s circumstances haven’t changed between verse one and verse twenty-eight. Wicked men still prosper. Circumstances are still bad. Externally, all the reasons for complaining are still valid. But something radical has happened internally. The heart has been retuned. The attitude has been restructured.
This is why the Psalmist says, “It is good for me to draw near to God.” Private prayer changes personal perspective. It infuses hope into what appears hopeless. It reveals God’s hand in what looks random. It recalls merciful providence in what appears to be merciless fate!
Solitude with God is our source of strength. Private prayer is our release to be real. Communing with God in personal relationship is our only hope for getting out from under the burdens, and our only way of making our hearts free to rejoice in hope.
How do you perceive God when it comes to your private prayer and personal solitude with Him? If God wanted to meet with you as a judge—that would be a draining, oppressive experience. If God wanted to meet with you as taskmaster—that would be an exhausting, depleting experience.
The reality is, God wants to meet with you as Father and Friend. Who wouldn’t want to enter into solitude with this wonderful Saviour?
Do you need to be free to be real with God? Do you need to strengthen your unhealthy soul? Do you need to unburden your heart and recalibrate your reality?
Solitude with God is your only hope. Cancel some commitments. Make some margin in your routine, and retreat to your Refuge! He is waiting to meet with you, and in His presence you will soon flourish, though the world around you is utterly floundering!
Serving ministry is like exhaling. Solitude with God is like inhaling. It takes BOTH to stay healthy.
Don’t lose hope. Find it—in solitude with God!
Hebrews 4:16 “16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”