A busy, cluttered life distracts us from priorities and promises. Our purpose in life becomes dimmed. Believers are provided with one perfect example on how to calibrate their spiritual life that can have a significant impact on their witnessing.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” [Luke 5:16]
Jesus could no longer afford to go to places where people desperately needed him, so he went to a place where he could pray.
Jesus needed to get away from the din.
Need is a funny word. It is a strange desire that can derail us.
It’s because we like to be needed. We are uplifted when people desire us. Our identity can be wrapped around people we serve, but when that happens, are we really serving people or our self? God calls us to be servants and we eagerly do so. But sometimes we need to go to lonely places to ask whom we are really serving.
We need lonely places to keep our focus off our self and on to God.
We need lonely places to recalibrate our needs and to distinguish our purpose.
We need lonely places to recognize our desperate need for God.
I went back to my hometown of Seattle recently. Our house was only a thirty minute walk to the Puget Sound. One path took us to a wharf that was built before WWII. A small general store sold fishing tackle where you can buy corn nuts and fish bait. I would watch people fish at the end of the wharf. You could peer into the water and see small flounders or an occasional crab. The wharf is no longer in use and only a shell of a building remains. Individual posts stick out of the water. This used to be my lonely place as a kid where I would sit on the banks to watch the boats, the trains, and the wildlife.
Jesus, the Savior of the world, the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the author of our salvation – often withdrew to lonely places to pray, to listen, to be renewed and refreshed.
And so do we.
To be an answer to prayer, we need to pray.
To be God’s ambassador, his representative to the world, we need to be in communication with him.
To share God’s message to the world, we need to be in his message.
When God prompts our hearts to proclaim, perhaps the first thing we need to do is to go off to a lonely place and pray. Why? Because God’s stirring can be short-lived.
The worries of this life – the treasures of this world – are all distractions that tug at our hearts. It is like writing a message with a stick on the sandy shore, then watching wave upon wave slowly dissolve away the message until it’s completely gone. The world is like ocean waves that regularly pound us with distractions and excuses.
We need lonely places to get away from the pounding of this world.
Before you book a week-long vacation to some remote, lonely place, allow me to assure you that you may not have to travel far. For some, it is getting up extra early in the morning when the robins first begin to sing and the morning light casts its presence off in the horizon. For others, it’s setting apart a regular time in the afternoon or the evening that is devoted to be in his Word.
I imagine that when Jesus set himself apart and went to a lonely place to pray, he didn’t have scrolls with him, a devotion book, or a journal to record his thoughts and prayers. He reflected on God’s promises. He knew the prophecies and the psalms by heart. He went deep. The Word was a part of him because he was the Word.
Regular, extended time in the Word was not just a have to, but a part of Jesus’ being. He is the Word that guides our thoughts and prayers. It nourishes the Word that lives in us.
The Word keeps the imprint of his Words that are recorded in our hearts and does not allow them to be washed away by the waves of unbelief.
It is through the Word that God works. In his promises, we find purpose. In those promises, we are commissioned. Absorbed by His presence, we are purposeful.