I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about how busy we are as a culture. I spend a lot of my time around extremely busy people that are so frustrated by their busyness. It seems like the majority of conversations that I have with men in our ministry are all wrapped up in how busy they are that they do not have time for what really matters. As I thought more about this subject, it hit me that in general, the busier that I am, the less I seek solitude and prayer. Solitude and prayer are the key ingredients that will help me slow down and focus on my relationship with Jesus while wrestling with the giant of busyness.
I was catching up on some blog reading on Monday and the title, “Finding Tranquility Through Prayer”, jumped off of the page at me. Tranquility by definition means to be in a state of calm and peace. As I read and then reread the blog, I was reminded that the only real solution to the busyness of life is to find the time daily to connect with Jesus in prayer and Bible study. In this time, life can slow down and I am reminded about the things that truly matter.
Matthew Fretwell wrote in a recent blog:
Our culture surrounds us with things that subtract from our ability to find peace and tranquility. Let’s be honest—we live in an instant generation—we despise waiting for anything. Tranquility is not instantaneous. We would not be able to handle dial-up Internet. Today, if it doesn’t load in two seconds, then something is wrong. Earbuds, iPads, social media, sports, shopping and work. All of these contribute to our busyness. They are not bad in and of themselves, but they detract us from our tranquility. Tranquility is an inner sense of calm that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). This is from God and, I believe, that it’s mostly found through relational, intimate prayer. Finding tranquility in moments of still prayer is not easy to do in our instant culture, so here are a few tips.
In John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping, he suggests that the challenges of the world test the depths and elasticity of the soul. Like a computer’s operating system, our soul integrates everything—the will, body, emotions and seeks harmony. When we overload the system, it is bound to crash. We need to slow down. We’re so busy doing life, that we forget about life. In our packed schedules, we have one gear—fast. Slowing down allows us to carve out intentional time to get alone with the Creator. We can’t find tranquility in crammed calendars. A friend of mine made an acrostic for the word, busy—“bent under Satan’s yoke.” I like that. I learned that slowing down for intentional times of prayer, increased my peace and ability to wait on God.
As it’s been said, we were created for camel time. Right up until 1900, mankind rode upon horseback or walked. This allowed times for processing and time for prayer. We had intentional alone time with God. Nowadays, we shut our car doors, turn on the XM, and away we go.
Just say no
The monastics got one thing right—they understood the necessity for the silence of God. Our culture starves to hear from God—yet engages in noise. Noise can be considered anything that clutters the mind. Seeking the silence of God in prayer quiets the soul and shuts out the noise of the world. Thomas ‘A Kempis stated, “Habit overcomes habit.” Humans are pretty good at creating habits—sometimes those habits become strongholds. Believe me, one year I gave up coffee for Lent—I don’t know who suffered more, my wife, or I? For some of us—social media checking is a habit—a constant cultivated habit. How many likes did I get? How many followers? How many re-tweets? My advice—just say no. Say no to unwanted or unneeded habits. Instead, make your prayer life habitual. Finding tranquility through prayer is seeking the peaceful heart of God. As a loving Creator, there’s a magnetic attraction for our soul—it’s found in the silence of God. Let go of the world and find God.
The Celtic Christians labeled their location of prayer, a thin place. A strategic site set aside as holy. For example, when Jacob had the vision of a ladder ascending and descending from heaven, he asserted, “Surely the LORD is in this place” (Genesis 28:16). A thin place is where heaven and earth collide. It’s a place where you and God convene. A thin place should be where distractions are removed. An intentional place of solitude. A place to seek God’s holiness and righteous—to arrive at the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). But, remember, while the location is a factor in tranquility, it’s not the focal point—God is our focus. Finding tranquility through prayer occurs when we slow down, habitually seek God, and devote ourselves to the silence of God.
Do yourself a favor—take out the earbuds, turn your smartphone notifications off, and find a place to get alone with God.