Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Write Solitary Prayer Into Your Datebook (PrayerLife)

Bald eagle, flying over our house.

For 3+ decades I have scheduled times of solitary prayer. I write them in my datebook as "appointments with God." If I don't schedule them these times will fill up with other things, many of which are not spiritually sustaining. I am no good to others and God if I don't do this.

"Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life." (Henri Nouwen, Seeds of Hope: A Henri Nouwen Reader, 64) That is, don't wait for solitude to just happen. Nouwen writes: "There are too many reasons not to be alone. Therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude." (Ib.)

If solitary praying is not rhythmic for you, begin to build it in. Try 5 minutes alone with God. Every day. If you do this meeting with God every day, after day after day, for weeks and months, I predict a time when God will so meet you that you will not be able to leave your alone-place with him. "Five or ten minutes a day may be all we can tolerate. Perhaps we are ready for an hour every day, a day every month, a month every year. The amount of time will vary for each person according to temperament, age, job, life-style, and maturity." (Nouwen, Ib.)

How important is this? Nouwen writes: "We do not take the spiritual life seriously is we do not set aside time to be with, and listen to, God." (Ib.)