Here are my experiences and tips to help you enjoy times of solitude with God.

Create the place and time

A couple of miles from our home there is a dam that holds back a lake created by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers.  On top of the dam is a road that is no longer used for public transit.  Gates
installed to keep traffic off of the road in the event of lake levels exceeding the height of the dam
now bar vehicles from crossing the levee at any time.  This closed road makes for a great place
to walk. Whether a hot night in the summer or a wind-whipped cold winter day, the trek across
the man-made formation is a daunting one because of the length of the road down and back.
By oneself, this can be a long and lonely journey; unless the time is spent communing with God
and being present with his Holy Spirit.

After parking in the deserted parking lot, I bounded out of my car and immediately opened the
door to the back seat.  I donned a scarf around my neck (gotta protect the vocal cords for
singing), put my knit hat on and pulled my hooded sweatshirt hood up over the hat, pulled on my
insulated hunting coat, and finished off with my orange insulated hunting gloves.  Jupiter was
hanging in the western sky like a beacon, even with the glow from the freight yard on the same
horizon.  Sirius was giving chase to Orion in the southern sky as I locked the car and headed
down the path for the closed road.  It was time to be alone.

Follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he sought solitude

As you enter solitude, meditate on Christ’s example.

In these days he (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer
to God
.” (Luke 6:12 ESV)

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to
Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on
the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone
on the land
.” (Mark 6:45-47 ESV)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while
he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain
by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone
,” (Matthew 14:22-23 ESV)

In these verses we see a common theme.  Luke provides insight into what Jesus did before
beginning his ministry with the twelve apostles.  Mark and Matthew give a nearly identical
account of what happened after Jesus had fed the five-thousand on the mountainside.
He went away by Himself to spend time with God.

Be intentional in seeking solitude

I’m not sure why it has taken me over fifty-five years to really understand this.  What I can tell
you is that as I walked on the dam, I was intentional in spending that time with God and talking over a lot of things with Him.  This was a moment of releasing a lot of things to the Holy Spirit as we walked and talked, and as I ambled down the road the idea of this article was placed on my mind.

I have been out for long hikes in the woods, and have had time to myself while out hunting.  This night was different.  With my gloves on I could not use the touch screen on my phone.  Bundled against the cold, I had one singular purpose as I walked: Be present with the Holy Spirit of God.

Ask God to draw you to the rewards of solitude

Ask yourself this question: When was the last time I was intentional in spending time alone with
the Holy Spirit?

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your
salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it
.” (Isaiah 30:15

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the
!” (Psalm 46:10 ESV)

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to
them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming
and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate
place by themselves
.” (Mark 6:30-32 ESV)

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
(Romans 8:6 ESV)

Practice silent reflection

As a member of the Tres Dias community, every weekend that we put together includes time for
being quiet and silent reflection.  We ask those attending to sit with the Holy Spirit and listen.
Because of times like this, I crave quiet times for myself. Not a “quiet time” where I do a daily
devotion, but quiet, silent times where the silence can’t be interrupted.  These are the times
when I can know that God is really in charge of what is happening in my life and in the world.
Here is where I can reset my mind on the Spirit for the life and peace He brings.

A few years ago a friend of mine had gone through a divorce and he admitted to me that he did
not like to be in his apartment alone.  He said “I’m afraid of the quiet and being by myself
because of the thoughts I have when I’m alone.”  This is a different situation altogether.  This is
a deeper issue, and if you find yourself having similar thoughts, please seek qualified Christian
counseling. Contact your local church if you need help finding resources.

Find the time and place that works for you

What I am advocating for is a particular set amount of time that is beneficial to you.  Pick a time,
a place, and the amount of time that you will have for silence and solitude.  Then give yourself
grace. It may not happen as you planned, but be patient.  Allow the Holy Spirit of God to be
present with you.  By that I mean, set your mind and focus on Him.  Don’t wait for a feeling, but
let your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection be centered on God.

Receive God’s rewards of solitude

 The Bible tells us the many rewards of solitude.

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him
with all your heart and with all your soul
.” (Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV)

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.“  (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please
the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be
glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not
despise his own people who are prisoners
.” (Psalm 69:30-33 ESV)

Thank God for the gift of solitude

I didn’t make it all the way to the other side of the dam.  I had only a certain amount of time
allotted for this night. About a quarter of the way across I had to stop and turn around. As I
started to head back to the car, I kept talking with God.  Walking along the road I thanked God
for the opportunity to have the time on the solstice night, and for the beauty of the night sky.  I
thanked him for my marriage with Kelly and for the precious gift she has been in my life.  I felt a
release of tension in my heart, mind, and soul.  I felt joyful.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation
.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV)

What can you talk to God about?  What are the things on your heart and mind that you need to
talk about with God, just the two of you?

How long has it been since you experienced joy?  How long since being in God’s presence
brought you to experience the kind of joy that only God can give?  A relationship with God is not
unlike a relationship with another person.  It takes time, but when we give our time to Him there
can be things that come into our life that we do not expect.  Joy can be one of those results. The possibilities are endless, because He is endless and abounding in everlasting love for us.

Enjoying Times of Solitude with God Prayer

Pray with me: “God I come to you right now and ask for you to provide for me the time I need to
be alone in your presence.  I long to be with You, I long to hear from You, and I know that I must
learn to make time for You.

Help me in this process to choose You over the things of earth that don’t matter and the time-wasters I give in to. I need You and only You.

I ask you, Holy Spirit, to guide me in planning for time alone with you so that I may be refreshed, restored, renewed, and reset to do your will in my life.

Help me, Lord, to make you a priority in my life, so that my life will reflect your glory. In the most holy name of Jesus, I pray, amen.”

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David Shelton

Copyright David Shelton 2023.  All rights reserved.