Spending time alone with the Lord sets us free from stress. This kind of isolation is not the same as loneliness. Solitude is a choice to be alone, to voluntarily separate ourselves from others. But loneliness is a painful inner emptiness that results from feeling disconnected from others. It involves a sense of not belonging, of being alone in a universe of uncaring people.
The purpose of solitude is to privately commune with God. The goal is not to study the Bible or bring our petitions and concerns to Him, but to simply be with the Lord. That’s when the chokehold of stress is broken, and all our tensions subside. This doesn’t mean we’ll never experience stress again, but solitude teaches us how to deal with it in God’s way when it comes.
The Lord wants us to be alone with Him for two primary reasons:
For a relationship. God created us in His image because He wants to have a relationship with us for all eternity (Gen. 1:26). No other creature on earth was given this privilege. In fact, God loved us so much that He was willing to send His Son to die for us in order to break down the barrier that sin created (Rom. 5:7-8). Yet despite all this, many Christians don’t have time for Him. However, we won’t be able to relate to the Lord if our minds are preoccupied and our schedules are full. Solitude is the only way this intimate relationship with our Creator becomes a reality.
For preparation. Solitude is also God’s way of preparing us for the day ahead. That’s why we should begin each morning alone with Him. Although reading the Word and spending time in prayer are very important, the primary purpose of solitude is to experience God’s presence. He wants to be alone with each one of us to reveal Himself in personal ways so that we can know Him intimately and gain a sense of belonging.
Once, after feeding a multitude of five thousand, Jesus sent His disciples away in a boat and went up on the mountain by Himself to pray (Matt. 14:22-23). In fact, seeking solitude with His Father was His customary practice, especially after dramatic situations. We also see this same example in the apostle Paul’s life. After he was dramatically saved, he headed for Arabia to seek solitude with God (Gal. 1:17). Time spent alone in prayer is vital.
How do you normally handle stress in your life? Many people try to escape their anxious feelings with medication, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or anything that promises to bring relief. But none of these methods are truly effective. The ultimate solution comes from God, and He has freely provided it to every one of His children.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message, “God’s Stress Remover,” that aired this weekend on TV.