This blog post and episode are part of the Rule of Life series, and we’re looking at some practical tips on how to meet God in the secret place.
Before we start, what is a Rule of Life?
A rule of life is a commitment to live according to certain priorities. And for us as Jesus mamas, our priorities are to be God’s Kingdom first. That means that meeting with God in the secret place is an essential part of our rule of life as Jesus followers. But how?
Listen in to today’s episode below or scroll down for the blog post.
Practical Tips To Help You Meet With God In The Secret Place
1. Planning Time Alone With God Everyday
Time with God in silence and solitude is a practice Jesus ruthlessly protected. He didn’t simply spend time with God on impulse or just when He felt the need for it. Jesus actually planned it.
This is clear from the several accounts of Jesus’ life. One thing we see Jesus doing is proactively withdrawing from crowded places and going to desolate places. The other thing we see Him doing is choosing quiet times to do so—early morning and late at night.
Jesus had to be deliberate in His practice of silence and solitude with God, because He often had crowds following Him. That’s probably why Jesus slinked off early in the morning or late at night, where people were either sleeping or too tired to follow Him!
For us, it’s the same. We need to plan quiet times.
When scheduling our time with God it’s important we’re both realistic about our current season, but we also don’t limit our time with God to a minimum possible. Or rush through it just to check it off our to-do list.
Jesus didn’t rush through time alone with God to do the important work. Being alone with God was actually the most important part of His life. And everything He did was an overflow of that time spent with God.
While we all have lives full of responsibilities, it’s important that, like Jesus, we don’t rush through our times of silence and solitude with the Father. God is looking at our heart.
When we slow down with the people who are important to us, we show them value and appreciation. We’re not consumed with what we can get from them, instead we love to hear them speak and we enjoy spending time with them even when they don’t.
This is how it is to be with us and God. Not rushing Him to tell us what we want. Not going to Him just to get a feel-good verse or emotion. But sitting with God and taking delight in His presence — with a ready heart to listen when He desires to speak.
So I’d like to encourage you to join me in scheduling a focused time with God every day (let God lead you particularly into how much) and take it slowly. Then, when we go back to our responsibilities, let’s stay close to God throughout our day, in full recognition that God is our Father and we need Him always!
2. Choosing A Sanctuary
When it comes to the location of your time of silence and solitude with God, I’d like to suggest two things based on my experience.
The first is for you to find a place at home that can become your quiet time sanctuary. If you have young children, maybe you’ll have visitors there occasionally, but other than that, try to make it a distraction-free zone. (No phone or housework nearby!) Make sure it’s a room of your home or a part of a room which you use only for rest and never work. (If you work from home like me, you’ll understand why.)
I use an armchair in the living-room, which I’ve conveniently placed near a window. This is because I love watching the world awaken in the morning, as well as using the windowsill to place my Bible, journal, pens.
The second thing I’d suggest is that you find a quiet sanctuary outside your home for chaotic seasons in life. This is a sanctuary you can escape to when you have guests at home, young children, or house building work. (A reality I’m experiencing as I write this!)
This could be a nearby park, a nature trail, or even the beach. If you live in a big city, it might be hard to find a quiet place during the day, and so you might need to be more intentional about going out very early in the morning. Other options include meeting with God in your car, using a balcony, or retreating to an outside shed!
3. Being Led By The Spirit, Not A Formula!
Sometimes people wonder what they can and cannot do when engaging in a time of solitude with God.
The truth is…our encounter with God in the secret place should not be led by us, but by God.
Having said that, I want to give two general principles about what not to do. Solitude is a discipline of abstinence, whereby solitude is about what we choose to remove to make space for God.
So in solitude we choose not to interact with others or engage in distractions. (These can even be Christian books!)
Although there is no formula, our times of solitude with God will often comprise the practices of
- prayer, (speaking and listening to God’s voice through His Spirit)
- praise through music (singing, clapping, and even dancing!)
- scripture meditation and study
All of these practices are interdependent and feed into each other.
4. Retreating With God In Times Of Need
I mentioned earlier that Jesus planned time alone with God, but Jesus also retreated away with God when He felt a particular need to do so.
For instance, when Jesus heard the news that John the Baptist was beheaded, “he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.” (Matthew 14:13) Here we see Jesus retreating with God to process His pain.
Similarly, just before being arrested, Jesus went to Gethsemane and spent time alone with God in great anguish of Spirit for what lay before Him in His eminent crucifixion.
We will also experience times of greater need for God’s strength and presence. In fact, when we battle against tribulations of many kinds, while we may be tempted to forgo time alone with God, these are precisely the times we’ll need to turn to God more.
Often when we experience seasons of tribulation, these come so heavily and unexpectedly that they mess with our entire life rhythms and our ability to withdraw into our usual sanctuaries.
So what can we do? What Jesus did. We tell others we need to be on our own with God. (As Jesus did in Gethsemane – Matthew 26:39). Or we simply escape to an “emergency” sanctuary. (As Jesus did when he left in a boat when He heard of John the Baptist’s death – Matthew 14:13).
5. Planning A Season Of Solitude
As those who desire to grow in a relationship with God and pour into the lives of others, we must be willing to schedule seasons of solitude. In fact, to commune with God at a deeper level, we need to schedule more than just an hour every day.
This period of solitude could be one day a month, three days every three months, or whatever we feel God is leading us to.
One common objection to a season of solitude with God is that He created us for communion with others. As such, we shouldn’t neglect that by withdrawing on our own.
In this paradigm, solitude is seen, at best as an impractical dream, and at worst, as a selfish excuse to get away from people!
This would be true if we were pursuing solitude to fulfil selfish desires, yet that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about meeting with God so we can receive God’s love, love Him back and then go on to love others. Practising solitude does not negate our need for community with others, it prepares us for it!
The problem nowadays is that we’re often never fully in community or in solitude. When in community, we shut ourselves into our devices or busy ourselves with our tasks and we give people our half attention. Then, when alone, we also escape into our devices to receive outside input and feel “connected” to the world.
We must learn to engage in both community and solitude heads on. No half measures!
As I’ve implemented the practice of solitude in my life, it’s been such a blessing. In fact, at the time of writing, I’ve just come back from two days of prayer and solitude, and, to be honest, I want to go back.
As a wife and mom of young children, solitude doesn’t mean I withdraw from my family completely for two or three days. What I do is that during the day when my husband is at work and my kids are at school, I do prayer walks in nature, I read the Bible and I journal. I also don’t engage with any digital devices, which means computer work and virtual communication are off limits! Then in the evenings, I spend time with my kids, and I read and chat to my husband.
Then, when the season of solitude is over and I engage with the wider world again, my mind has been transformed by a deeper faith in the God who made the earth, the sea, and the sun.
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