“Very much of a man’s true life must be lived alone;
under no eye but the Father’s,
with no companionship save that of the Son,
and without guidance, or help, or teaching save from the Holy Spirit.”
– Horatius Bonar
God has been inviting me recently to learn the lessons of prayer. A lesson that I sensed was very important to Him was Holy Aloneness. It is being alone with God.
I define Holy Aloneness simply as a meditative practice that involves talking to God in our own words. By pouring out our hearts before God and expressing all that we feel – the pain, the joy, the longing, His unfailing love, as examples – we begin to develop a deep intimacy with God. It motivated my prayer life in a way that I have never experienced before.
Michael Spencer in his book, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, explains it this way:
“At the foundation of the Christian life, there is a kind of sacred individuality, a sort of holy aloneness that cries out to be left alone with God. This isn’t all of the Christian life. It doesn’t erase those parts of a Christian’s experience that happen in the context of relationships, but this sacred solitude needs to be discovered, respected, and protected.
It is that place where we most irrefutably hear God tell us that he loves us, and we come to know that, no matter what other people may say about us or do to us, God will not abandon us. That holy solitude is the place where we find God’s Spirit changing our affections and redirecting our identities. It is, for Jesus-followers, holy ground.” ― Michael Spencer,
But in order to experience holy aloneness, we each need the heart revelation that God loves us unreservedly. We need our heart to be awakened to this incredible truth. He loves us first. He gives us grace to receive His love and to give it back to Him. The revelation of this incredible love of God is the very launching point for a consecrated life of holy aloneness.
Now imagine what you might look like if you were to see yourself through God’s eyes — through eyes that are filled with wisdom and loving kindness, eyes that see with compassion and do not judge. Try to see yourself as the amazing mystery and pure being that you are.
God is developing His holy aloneness for a purpose. He wants us to see that our prayer is a revelation of how much He has saturated our lives. As we understand the miracle of prayer, then prayer becomes a comfort even before it is answered because in prayer we have something better than an answer to our prayer – we have evidence of the constant presence of our God.
Holy Aloneness for me is so beautifully captured in the story of the Widow’s Oil in 2 Kings 4:2-5 – ‘Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have (of value) in your house?” ” Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a little oil” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t just ask for a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each one is filled, put it to one side.”’
The widow and her two sons were to be alone with God. They had to be isolated from everyone, removed from the natural tendencies to prejudge their circumstances. They were to depend on God alone – in touch with the source of miracles.
This is an ingredient in God’s plan of dealing with us. We are to enter a secret place in prayer and faith. At certain times and places, God will build a mysterious wall around us. He will take away all the supports we customarily lean upon, and will close us off to something divine, completely new and unexpected, and that cannot be understood by examining our previous circumstances. We will be in a place where we do not know what is happening, where God is cutting the cloth of our lives by a new pattern, and where He causes us to look to him.
Like this widow, we must be detached from outward things and attached inwardly to the Lord alone – a holy aloneness in order to see His wonders.
It is the unique privilege of believers to spend time alone with God. Spending time alone with God is critical to our relationship with Him. In fact, it is the most important relationship we will ever have.