Friday, September 13, 2013

Jesus Often Withdrew to Lonely Places and Prayed (PrayerLife)

Sterling State Park on Lake Erie,
one of the places I go to
get alone with God and pray, and be spoken to.
(PrayerLife: A life that has time to pray. Begin with: 30-60 minutes of prayer, 5 days a week.)

Sometimes what seems like an ordinary event becomes extraordinary and life-changing. Such was the case for me when, in 1981, my friend John Powell gave me a copy of Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. God used it to revolutionize my life. Through Foster, God gave me a prayer life that has remained now for 32 years, which includes 3000+ pages of journal entries that record the voice of God, spoken to me.

I began to see that life's most important thing was to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. My raison d'etre was: to spend much time with God, one-on-one. Out of this alone-time with God my life in community with others, to include with Linda, would be strengthened and transformed. I chose to cultivate the abiding-in-Jesus life. It continues to this day, and my heart is to deepen it.

To every Jesus-follower who now asks, "What am I supposed to do?" I give you the answer: go to a "lonely place apart" and meet with your God. Do not do anything until this meeting takes place! And one meeting is not enough. Mc-meetings don't count either. Abide. Rest in Him. Dwell. "Practice," as Brother Lawrence wrote, "the presence of God."

Time-travel back 2000 years to an upper room in Jerusalem. Sit at that table. Slow down. Turn off your iPhone. Open your Bible to John 14. Listen to Jesus' instructions. John 15. John 16. Open the Text and get Texted by God. Slow-cook in the teriyaki sauce of these verses. Get covered and coated with these "one thing" words of Jesus.

My mentor (through his books) Thomas Merton wrote: "The one thing necessary is a true interior and spiritual life, true growth, on my own, in depth, in a new direction. Whatever new direction God opens up for me. My job is to press forward, to grow interiorly, to pray, to break away from attachments and to defy fears, to grow in faith, which has its own solitude, to seek an entirely new perspective and new dimension in my life. To open up new horizons at any cost. To desire this and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest." (A Year with Thomas Merton, Kindle Locations 4495-4497).

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

Who am I, who are you, not to do this?