Isn’t it interesting that when you look at seasons of intense personal growth in your life, one constant theme is intentional alone time with God? This doesn’t necessarily mean you increase your devotional time by X minutes (and it might mean that)
Rather it’s more a way of life, where, like how you usually think of a lover, your mind is rested, often, on God or at least pulled towards him (Josh 1:8, Isa 30:15, Ps 26:3-4, Ps 16:8, Luke 6:12, Luke 5:16, etc.). A simple analogy is how a compass points to the north, in the absence of strong magnetic presence (read that as the busyness of our lives), and once the magnetic presence is gone, it returns back to the north (read it as our minds returning back to God)
Even in scriptures when you look at when people who have had true growth, you see this theme of increased and intentional alone time with God (again not necessarily specific times but a way of life).
I use the word “alone” in preceding statements because there has to be a personal intimacy and dimension to it. Just like how you get to know an intimate friend “alone” or at least you have those private moments and that is what deepens the friendship
Unfortunately, we generally do not plan for this, rather we are in some ways forced into it hence the need for affliction and sufferings that drive us to the end of ourselves. For that is when we are truly ready to strip away religion and what we think we know and get to the “address of God.”
Solitude and Silence: An example
Coming across the excerpt below was the trigger for this post, as it reminded me of how poorly I am planning for my growth and development, for the sake of actually becoming an apprentice that does his will, naturally and routinely:
Among the practices that we learn to engage in to enable effectual focus upon Christ is a combination of solitude and silence. You have only to look at the lives of those most successful in living with Christ to see that this is so. To go into solitude means to be alone and do nothing for lengthy periods of time. That is necessary to break the grip of a God-alienated world over us at the level of our constant habits and preoccupations. Silence means to eliminate noise, including the noise of our own mouth. It further frees us to move into the life that is eternal. We need to combine solitude and silence on some occasions to gain their full effects. They must be practiced intensely and extensively.
These are root-reaching practices that slowly bring us to an understanding of who and what we really are—often producing occasions of profound repentance—and that allow God to reoccupy the places in our lives where only he belongs. They require lengthy times and extreme intensity to do their work, though at the beginning we must ease into them in a gentle and non-heroic manner. Once established in our mind, soul, body, and social involvements, they go with us wherever we are and need to be renewed only periodically by special times of practice. Irritability and anger, loneliness and busyness, are signs that they need renewal.
Excerpted from Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge by Dallas Willard
Since Jesus is our model and the one we strive to be transformed into (from the inside out, not by straining or flexing our Christianly acts), it is interesting to consider his way of life.
Please see the link below to see the multiple scriptures that describe Jesus’ way of life. Consider, then, that if he, being the second person of the Trinity did all this frequently, how often should we do it:
May we be people that plan to develop our relationship with God and we work that into our lives the way we work appointments and give priority to important things
May we learn to step back and embrace the love of the father and who he is to us. May we see that he more than ever invites us into friendship
Side note: You’ll be shocked by how much our relationship with God is described as friendship or alluded to in scriptures.
Thinking about how we develop normal friendships can be very helpful in developing our friendship with God and even our times of speaking to him (prayer).
Isn’t it funny that we rarely start a conversation with God asking about what He wants to talk about?