Seeking Solitude to Pray

Where do you go when you need solitude? For extroverts that question may have no meaning. For people who personality tests identify as introverts, solitude seems like time in a most sacred space. I love being around people and especially speaking to and teaching large groups of people. When I was younger, I performed in plays like “My Fair Lady,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” and “Brigadoon.” I sang in college choir that traveled throughout the United States and Europe. But after time before and among people, I need a break. Sometimes, when I am grieving or trying to make a difficult decision, I crave solitude so that I can meditate over relevant biblical passages and pour out my heart to God.


During the past six years, I have fled to two places when seeing solitude. One is Angel Falls trail near my house. A picture of the small waterfalls after which the trail is named accompanies this post. The sound of the water calms me. The falls, the stream, the surrounding trees, and occasional deer or owls remind me that God who created all this still is in control. I pray for his guidance, sometimes as I pause along the trail, sometimes even as I run (with my eyes open, of course – I’m watching and praying).
Jesus, before teaching his disciples a model prayer that we often call the Lord’s Prayer, encouraged his disciples to seek out a quiet and secure place to pray. Often, he himself would go alone into the hills to pray. In this passage before the Lord’s prayer, however, he said,


“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).


The pronoun “you” in the verse is singular. The instruction is for private prayer, not for congregational or group prayer. However, a principle from the context applies whatever the context. Prayer is not a spectator sport. It’s not a sermon. It is communication with God. Now, when I don’t go to the trail, but need solitude, I often go to my walk-in closet at my house. I shut the door after I enter it. I have a chair in that closet and sit in it while I think and pray. I feel secure and safe while praying in the closet.


The book of Acts and the letters of Paul reveal that often Christians prayed together. But sometimes they, like Jesus before, prayed alone. Paul tells in several of his letters what he prayed on behalf of churches in such prayers. John seems to have been alone and in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when he received his “Revelation from [or “of”] Jesus Christ.”


Where do you go when you need solitude, when you want time alone so that you may cry out to God without interruption? Where do you go to call for fire when you are in spiritual crisis? Where do you go to ask God for guidance in troubling times? Pray hard, my friends.


• Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version, 2011.


Lord, we seek you sometimes in boisterous crowds singing and praising joyously. At other times, each of us needs time alone with you to grieve, to seek guidance, or to talk through difficult situations. Help us to seek safe places to pray when we need to talk with you alone. Hear us and help us when we cry out. Refresh our spirits and heal our wounds. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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