For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.
Day 21: The Solace of Solitude
– “There is a sense in which the secret to Jesus’ ministry is hidden in the lonely places where he goes to pray – often before dawn” – Henri Nouwen
– In the lonely place – Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own
– “It is in silence that I have heard most clearly God’s life-giving whispers of love and experienced most deeply a sense of identity as God’s beloved.”
One of the things that surprised me about Jesus was how often he retreated by himself to pray (Ref. Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, 6:46, Luke 5:16). If there was anyone who could get a pass on their daily quiet time it would be Jesus; but we see him, often while it is still dark, spending time in prayer. He often was so removed that his disciples had to go look for him. What a great lesson for us. Jesus’ time with his father was his power supply for his ministry. He needed time alone in prayer and listening to God in order to live out his mission to the broken and hurting of this world. Wouldn’t I benefit from a few moments alone with God. What kind of difference would that bring to my work, family, and life?
Apprentice Activity: Silent Movie and Minutes
– Watch the documentary Into Great Silence
– Spend time pondering 1 Kings 19: 11-12 – Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
I stumbled across this documentary last January through our Netflix account and watched it through their instant access. In the documentary, all you watch are the days and nights of a Carthusian monestary in the French Alps. There is no narration and since the monks do not talk except for designated times, there is very little dialogue to follow. You are simply watching these monks as they pray, worship, and work. It is not for the faint of heart. I “watched” it during my morning workout over a weeks time. I don’t know anyone who could watch this at its two hour plus length without falling asleep. Maybe that is part of the point of the movie. It is a kind of litmus test to where our heart is. Lauren Winner shows it to one of her classes at Duke Divinity School and she states that her students get angry about the film. I guess silence isn’t always welcomed.
What is Jesus teaching me? Through this study and through watching another documentary entitled Be Still, I am learning to spend more time listening to God. So much is said about prayer, as in the request variety, but very little is said about listening for the voice of God. I am trying to be more intentional in making space to listen to God.
Do you talk at God but fail to listen to him? Would you even know how to go about listening to God?