“And when it was day, He departed and went into a desolate place.” Luke 4:42
After a full day of teaching and ministering individually, person-to-person, laying His hands on the sick, Jesus rises early and seeks out a desolate place. In doing this, Jesus is intentionally getting away from other people to focus on prayer and being near to God the Father. If being alone with God was important for Jesus, to strengthen His soul and inner resolve to continue doing the Father’s will, it is infinitely more important for us. In His perfect strength and divinity, but full humanity, Jesus often went away to desolate places to quiet His mind before engaging the crowds again.
We all need such disengagement in our lives, but this separation needs to be intentional. Even non-Christians know that people need quiet space in their lives, but the non-Christian does not know where to turn for the rejuvenation of soul that they seek. As Christians, we get alone and quiet so that we can set our hearts and minds again on things of Jesus Christ and His eternal perspective (Colossians 3:1-4). This is accomplished first through the careful reading of Scripture and next through prayer.
I suggest a brief time of prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to quiet the noise of your heart, to open your heart to understand, believe, and receive what you read in the Bible that day. Next, spend what time you have reading a passage from the Bible. I suggest you keep a marker in your Bible and keep moving it. Section by section, at your own pace, read through entire books of the Bible – New and Old Testament. However, read small sections at a time that you can thoughtfully consider. Reading the Bible is not an accomplishment to check off, but a life-time discipline that will change your entire worldview.
Once you have read a passage of Scripture, pray about the things that have come to mind as you read. Taking notes of any sort in a journal while you read can help to focus your thoughts. In prayer, worship Jesus for His perfect goodness, give thanks, confess sins, ask Jesus questions you have, pray about your anxieties, pray for others in need. Reading Scripture is a time of listening to Jesus as God. Prayer is a time to respond in faith.
Like many, you may agree with the above, but still not practice getting alone with God, because life is just too busy. Let me encourage you that your “desolate place” need not be a remote mountainside. Millions and millions of Christians, both now and in the past, have lived in metropolitan cities where there is no quiet garden to find silence. This does not mean that a devotional life is impossible unless you live in the country. From busy moms to those of us that work two jobs, the daily need is to find someplace where you can shut out the noise and hear the quiet voice of Jesus through the Bible – and then be able to turn your heart to Him in prayer. This could take place in your car, a closet in your home, early morning or late at night at your kitchen table, but it must happen. If not, your soul will run empty and you’ll begin to do life in your way and by your own strength.
Lastly, sometimes the desolate place really needs to be a desolate place. When you come to major crossroads in life (major job changes, moving, getting married) I suggest you take a vacation day, find some actual remote place, take your Bible and a journal (no phone, no music), fast (completely or to bread and water) and get alone with the Lord Jesus. Seeking the Lord in such a significant way demonstrates to the Lord that you really want to know and do His will. Try it and see how the Lord answers your prayer!
Let’s get alone with our Savior this week.
May the Lord fill our hearts from His abundant goodness,