If you’ve read this blog long, you know that we believe a strategic spiritual and leadership practice is setting aside a day (or at least part of a day) per month to be alone with God. This is a core value of ours. Recently, one of the leaders in our training raised this question:
I am trying to have some more consist time with God on my own, but when I am in the middle of the time, I feel like I am just sitting there, because I’m supposed to do an assignment rather than enjoying and engaging with God. Any suggestions?
Here was my reply:
The “not doing anything productive” dynamic can be a challenge in our practice of solitude and silence. But that is, of course, part of the definition of Sabbath: a time when I’m not producing something.
Questions I will often ask in prayer as I begin a time of extended personal communion (EPC) with God include:
- Father, how are you wanting to be with me today?
- How would You like to spend this time?
- What would bring You pleasure?”
Allowing yourself to linger prayerfully with questions like these can help surface directions and desires that bring focus to your time alone with God.
Sometimes I’m drawn to take a stroll. Or read scripture slowly and reflectively. Or allow God’s Spirit to remind me of God’s many gifts so that I can offer words of thanks. Or read some other spiritual writing in a slow, prayerful way. Or just look at the beauty of God’s creative work that surrounds me. Or pour out the real-time thoughts and feelings of my soul. Or honestly confess my grief over my shortcomings and line crossings recently. Or…or…or. God is a creative God, and in almost twenty years of this practice, being with Him like this has never been boring. Challenging, stretching, even bracing at times, but not boring.
Personally, all of this helps me remember Chuck Miller’s sage counsel:
“Prayer isn’t something I do so much as it is Someone I’m with.”
Be patient with the practice of solitude with God like a farmer is patient waiting for the seeds he has planted to finally germinate, sprout, grow and, eventually, bear good fruit.