Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pray In Lonely Places

This deer greeted me as I recently went to Sterling State Park to pray.

In Luke 5:15-16 we read: 15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

From this verse (and others) we see that Jesus had a pattern of going away from people and getting alone with the Father in prayer. This pattern became a model for Christian spirituality through the ages.

I follow this model in my Spiritual Formation classes. This week, I know of 150 Jesus-followers who are praying one hour a day, 5 days a week. They are students from Payne Theological Seminary, Redeemer, and my on-line SF class. My recommendation to them all is: find a place to pray that is apart from home, workplace, and car. Why? Here are some reasons.
  • There are too many possible distractions when we pray at home or office.
  • The experience of prayer is different when we are not surrounded by things that beg to define us.
  • The experience of God-dependency is increased in a "lonely place" uncreated by us.
  • In the history of Christian spirituality serious, love-relationship praying mostly happened in one-on-one situations along with God. (In monasteries there was a back-and-forth movement between solitude and community.)
  • Jesus did.
Can we pray in our homes, offices, and cars? Of course! And we should. If you are doing one of these prayer-classes with me and cannot get away from home to pray, then create a space at home that minimizes distractions. Turn your phone off (people don't need you as much as you think they do). Turn you computer off. Do not multitask! If possible, sit before a window that looks out on the world. Let your family know that you'd like to spend this hour without interruptions.

Meet with God.