“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16, ESV)
Once we visited a place called “Mammoth Cave.” It was a limestone cavern. We went down inside the cave with a guide. While in the cave, the guide turned off his flashlight and shut off all the lights to let us know what the natural light in the cave looked like. You know, you could not see a thing. Moreover, everyone remained absolutely silent, and you could hear a pin drop. In the cave there were no distractions. Nothing to see. nothing to hear. It was a place that anything unusual was noticed. This is the setting that we see Elijah in after his flight from Jezebel, and journey to Mt. Horeb.
As mentioned, in the previous devotion, Elijah was not in a position to hear from the Lord until he got to the cave. the problem was busyness. He experienced sources of noise that hindered his ability to hear from the Lord. He was physically exhausted, he was running, and his emotions were in control of his thoughts and actions. In order to hear from the Lord, he needed to break the pattern. That happened when he entered the cave.
“There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:9–10, ESV)
Here he found a place where he could shake off the noise of life. Jesus set the example for such a practice. Luke recorded that Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds and ministry to pray. If Jesus, Lord of lords, King of kings, son of God, and God the Son, needed to withdraw and spend time in prayer with the Father, how can we think it is unnecessary for us? We need to make some changes in our lives in order to hear from the Lord.
Find Time for Solitude – We must devote time for solitude. Elijah comes to the cave, where he stops and enters into a period of solitude. He is all alone. There are no outside distractions. He has nothing to do. This is a model that every believer must follow.
Our lives are full of distractions. Sometimes I get so busy writing, that I forget to get quiet with the Lord. We have a prime example of this with Mary and Martha. When Jesus once entered the home of Mary and Martha, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him. On the other hand, Scripture tells us that “Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” (Luke 10:40, ESV)
Martha was distracted. The word distracted, perispao, literally means to be dragged all about (Strong G4049). Her business got in the way of her hearing. Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42, ESV) Mary was alone with Jesus. Martha was not.
We all must find a time to be alone with the Lord. Some time ago, I was struggling with the thought of retiring from the pastorate. I knew it was time to bring a younger pastor into the church, but I was going through an emotional battle with this. In a moment of crisis, I drove to the beach and sat on some rocks all by myself and stared out to the horizon. It was there that in seeking the Lord, I came to a place of peace and direction. We all need alone times with Jesus.
Find a Tranquil Place – To experience solitude, we must find a quiet place, one that is away from the noise. Elijah finds a cave, a place of solitude. We need to find a tranquil place where we can hear from the Lord.
Consider your house or office. Phones will ring. People will barge in. Dogs will bark and alert you to something outside. The kids will want attention. The television is blaring. I think you get the picture. How can you spend time listening to the Lord in such chaos. I guess it may be possible, but not easy. We must find a tranquil place like I did all alone at the ocean.
The place where we will hear from God is normally a place where we can focus. It will be a quiet place. It will be a lonely place, just you and the Lord. It will be a reflective place, where you can meditate on the things of God.
Make time for the Lord and establish a quiet and tranquil place to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study. When you do, you will be in a posture where you are able to hear from His word. (To be continued)