In our hurry-up man-centred, man-dependent world that measures success by activity, making big bucks, or how much one accomplishes, finding time to hide oneself alone with God for steady spiritual growth is a lost priority. It is viewed by many as a non-essential, as something for those who have nothing to do. The question asked is "Where is the practicality of time alone with God?" We have become so utilitarian that we find it extremely hard to look at time in terms other than "To Do" lists, and projects, performance and accomplishments. Others view time alone with God as a virtual impossibility. There are those centrifugal forces at work in our modern world that pull us into a whirlwind of activity or busyness. But perhaps more than anything else our society has been led into a dangerous mood of impatience. Eugene Peterson accurately captures this mood of our day and writes:
- One aspect of world I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgements.
Everyone is in a hurry. The people whom I lead in worship, among whom I counsel, visit, pray, preach, and teach want shortcuts…. They are impatient for results…. The Christian life cannot mature under such conditions and in such ways.
But King David knew his daily need of time alone with God and, though faced with trials and pressures that were pulling him other directions, he vowed in bulldog determination that nothing would keep him from meeting with God daily and at the beginning of his day. He vowed:
Psalm 5:3 – In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch. (NASB)
The rewards of time alone with God are often not immediately evident, and in our impatience we run to something more visibly practical. But there is a self-deception at work here as well. The negative effects of ignoring daily time alone with God are also not immediately visible. It's not like falling off a roof where gravity immediately takes over and swiftly plunges us to the ground.
Unless we make time alone with God a priority, the other hours devoted to our busy schedule will be poorly used. We are prone to ignore times of retreat because our work, our ministry, our families, all seem so much more important. Doing seems so much more practical than praying or meditating on the Word. But the spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation on the Word do not constitute idleness. They are rigorous disciplines that are vital to the spiritual life.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, forgive us when we neglect the most important time in our daily lives, namely that time with you. Help us to align our priorities in the right order so that we may not experience the chaos of the world. Thank you, Lord, for today and our time alone with you. Amen.