by Gwen Williams
Intentional prayer and listening prayer can happen successfully when you practice embracing the gift of quiet time.
We know that Jesus went up into the mountains away from the people in order to hear the voice of God. We also know that if we rush around and pack our day so full of stuff, that we’re unable to really hear the voice that we long to hear with all of the clutter piling up around us.
Taking the time to get away and respond to the silence, sitting still in the moment in order to hear from God.
In order to receive clarity and direction on how to manage our every day, we must sit before the Lord and listen. In silence and solitude. This is what I call listening prayer. When there is so much static and you can’t hear the voice of God, I encourage you to speak this verse from Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Right smack dab in the middle of my stress, the chaotic pieces of my every day, I run to Him and sit. And try my best to listen.
During this time of solitude prepare for what might be a distraction. Make sure the children have adequate care while you’re taking time away, unplug from the phone and social media if you can, and let everyone know what your goal is so they can support you in this journey. It’s a time for them to honor this time as well.
I have a job where I have the privilege of walking alongside others in their journey, and a big part of this is listening. Some days though, I just want someone to listen to me. I have things I want to share. But people know they can depend on my listening ear, so they take full advantage of it, and sometimes my needs get neglected along the way. So, imagine how difficult it can be to just sit still and listen to God in my prayer time. I want to interrupt and share my daily struggles and challenges, but He calls me to sit still and listen. In silence and in solitude. It can be a hard concept to wrap our mind around, but spending this time has incredible benefits. Clarity, wisdom, guidance, comfort, joy…
You might ask, “Do I really have to sit in one place and be still?” Yes and no. This might look like reserving a room and checking in for the night, it might look like taking an evening stroll and noticing creation, or it might look like sitting in your closet and spending time in prayer. Whatever works for you, you must take this time and get silent before God. Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed, according to Luke 5:16. He withdrew to rest from teaching, preaching and healing. He wanted to be alone, to be free from distractions, and to spend time with His Father. His calling required His obedience.
It’s one of the most important disciplines for spiritual life. We all need help disconnecting from certain aspects of our life in order to hear what God is trying to say. The stress of our every day may cause static in the communication we have with Him, therefore we need to experience this refreshing to restore our soul. Embracing solitude and silence is an opportunity to focus on our intimacy with God, but it can be difficult especially if we’re used to having a full plate and running 100 mph every day. But it’s so necessary.
Solitude and silence allow us to be alone with God and rest. There is no agenda, no schedule, we just come as we are and wait in that space. It takes a lot of trust to sit and wait alone in silence but, in the end, what peace.
Rest assured you will not regret a moment spent in His presence.
For me, my silence and solitude came on a retreat that I so desperately needed. I made a deliberate decision to take care of myself and steal away. It was one of the best gifts I could have given myself. This quiet time allowed me to focus on the scriptures that gave me life and the ones that spoke to my heart. I could have missed some incredible revelations from God if I hadn’t spent that time caring for myself and nurturing my relationship with Him. What areas do you need to tweak or change to make room to have that time with God?
Just like the song says, “steal away to Jesus”.
Psalm 104 speaks about the animals working for their daily bread and as the sun rises, they seek retreat. When you’ve worked hard and need a moment to care for yourself and rest, don’t think of it as selfish; think of it as preparation. Stealing away, to leave quietly without being noticed, is really preparing you for your time with God.
When I think of stealing away, it also reminds me an old spiritual that pre-dates the 1860’s. “Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus.” It spoke about freedom. So many years ago, from the bible days, to the 1860’s, up until today, there was and is a need to be free from either the physical or spiritual shackles that bind. There was a need to follow the teachings of Christ and embrace what He said in order to live out every day with joy, peace and contentment.
He calls us to take good care of ourselves by stealing away, by listening in prayer, by embracing the gift of quiet time with Him.
In John 7:16 (NIV), Jesus declared that His teaching was not His own, but it comes from the One who sent Him. How can we make room for our time of listening? What does our quiet prayer time with God look like?
Psalm 46:10 (NIV) tells us to “Be still and know that I am God”, but how can we be still when we have so much clutter in every moment of our every day? Can we be still while going about our daily commitments, or is He calling us to literally sit and be still? How can accomplish this stillness both physically and spiritually?
Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV) confirms the rest He promises as He leads us beside the still waters and restores our soul. Fill your mind during this quiet time of silence and solitude with your favorite verses to meditate on, or your favorite worship songs, or your favorite devotional. Just getting away and placing value on this time is of tremendous worth.
Are there plans for self-care that you can put down on paper? Habakkuk encourages us to write the vision and make it plain. Are any of these plans received from God during your quiet time? Or plans you want to offer up to God for Him to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Make sure you are intentional with taking good care of yourself. And if you’re fresh out of ways to do it, take this time to ask, seek and knock and get direction on how to be your best self.
Lord, I’m so grateful for fellowship with you. I know that you want more of our time, more quality time. I’m thankful for the words you spoke years ago, that we can cling to now in these overwhelming times. Help us to be intentional in caring deeply for ourselves in a way that pleases You. We know the more time we spend with you, the better the outcome in our mind, body, soul and spirit. Encourage our spirit to be deliberate in sitting with You in a special place that ushers in Your presence. We desire to be close to you, to listen in prayer, and worship you in truth. Place in our hearts the desire to steal away. Thank for the gift of quiet time, we will honor and cherish this for Your Glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Gwen Williams is a writer, advocate and fan of travel and food. She loves to inspire women to take steps toward developing a healthy body, soul and spirit. She also works with those who have experienced trauma and feels part of her calling is to help the hurting.
She encourages self-care and empowers women through the word; her inspiration comes from other women who have been prayer warriors and an amazing support system throughout her life’s journey.
Gwen enjoy finding charming cafes, strolling through farmer’s markets, discovering treasures at thrift stores and experiencing retreats that help her become her best self. She is also a newly certified yoga teacher and a contributor to various ministry blogs.
Gwen Williams is a contributing writer at Real Women Ministries
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