But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)
Ever heard the quotation, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get?” Been there, done that, a time or seven. The opposite is actually a better choice. Deliberately and often seeking out quiet places prepares us best to do the Kingdom work God calls us to. It’s true. We need to find the “lonely places” and simply sit a spell with God.
When you feel like you just can’t justify this, study Jesus’ life. Some days He was so busy he had no time to eat. He traveled all over the countryside, but He also stopped. A lot. There are lessons to be learned from Jesus’ pursuit of the “lonely places” where the crowds are not.
When starting a new work for God’s Kingdom, be sure to allow much time alone with the One who has called you.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 NLT). Immediately after He was proclaimed the Lamb of God and publicly announced by John the Baptist, Jesus was sent to a lonely place for forty long days and nights. That certainly seems like a counterintuitive way to begin a ministry. But that solitude and the battles fought alone were somehow necessary for all that was to follow.
Major decisions should be preceded by a time alone with God.
“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles” (Luke 6:12-13a NLT). Before choosing His twelve closest men—definitely major decisions—Jesus went to a lonely place and prayed all night. He was God. He could do anything. He chose to model for us the need to be alone with His Father. Oh, that we would learn from His example!
Popularity and success in ministry are not proof that God wants you to keep doing what you are doing. Even then, you still need to come away with Him alone. Perhaps He is moving you on.
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ But Jesus replied, ‘We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came’” (Mark 1:35-38 NLT).
When you need strength to face a trial, go first to the wilderness and meet with God.
“So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples” (John 11:53-54 NLT). Jesus had just healed Lazarus, and He knew that soon He would be offering himself as the ultimate and final Passover Lamb. He withdrew until the time was right. He chose the wilderness before His great and costly sacrifice.
When the future is frightening, take time alone with God.
“Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’ He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’” (Luke 22:39-42 NLT).
Even in His last available moment before His capture and death, Jesus sought out God’s company alone.
Time in the lonely places with God strengthens us.
“Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43 NLT). How interesting that at the beginning and the end of Jesus’ ministry, He was strengthened by angels. (See also Matthew 4:11.) What a beautiful picture for us. When we are in need of strengthening … we need the lonely places most of all.
Father, thank You for Jesus’ consistent example of withdrawing in order to be with You, the One He loved and yearned for. Teach us, Lord, to seek You like He did. Meet us, please, and help us in the trials we face. Forgive us when we just move faster and faster instead of seeking You for counsel and strengthening in the quiet places. Oh, how we need You! Guide us in this, please. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
Vision To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)
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