Silence Part 7: Wendy Bray considers how solitude can aid prayer
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. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5
I might have begun our reflection on solitude and silence with these verses, but it was important for us to begin by considering the place of both in the wider context of our everyday lives. Why? Because we are told that Jesus 'often' withdrew to lonely places place to pray. Solitude and silence were his habit, part of his daily timetable. His withdrawal to pray wasn't an occasional event. Jesus didn't just take advantage of quieter days and the disciples' shopping trips of the disciples (John 4:8) to find silence and solitude. Rather, silence and solitude were built into the wider context of his daily life. He withdrew from the crowd, not just because of the pressure it put him under, but despite it.
Look closer. Mention of the 'crowds of people' (v. 15) is followed in verse 16 by the word 'but', not the word 'so'. His search for silence and solitude wasn't so much cause-and-effect as an established routine. Yes, of course the crowds must have got to Jesus after a while, and of course he needed space to think, to pray and to plan, especially in the midst of busy ministry. Look at all he is doing here: he has just commissioned a group of co-workers; he has been healing and he has been teaching. 'Time out' was necessary—but here and elsewhere in the Gospels we are told that Jesus often withdrew anyway. Silence and solitude in which to seek his Father's face and rest in his company were a priority for him. If frequent times of silence and solitude were an essential for Jesus, how much more must they be for us?
Taken from Day by Day with God, published by Bible Reading Fellowship.
March 13th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews