Culture -

7 ways to create space with God —

By Matt Fogle

“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” – Luke 5:16 NLT.

There was a well-worn path in Jesus’ life between the crowds and being alone with his Father in Heaven. When was the last time you intentionally spent a half-day or full-day just hanging out with God?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a classic book titled “Life Together,” in which he wrote: “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community … Let him who is not in community beware of being alone … Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls.” 
I’m guessing you’re like me, and you have problems more with the alone time rather than community. We’re constantly surrounded by people physically and digitally. I’m inviting you to take some space this month – to practice like Jesus on this well-worn path. Here’s a few tricks to get started:

" This movement from silence and solitude to community is like breathing. We need to inhale and exhale to survive. "

     1. Get to your calendar before anyone else does, and schedule a day or half-day to simply be alone with God.
     2. Shut off devices. 
     3. Be unreachable by others. 
     4. Listen with intent focus.

If we don’t put this on our calendar and actually schedule it, it probably won’t happen. We all will have to fight a few things to make this a reality:

     5. Fight the resistance to accomplish one more thing.
     6. Fight the temptation to build our lives on the foundation of what others think of us. 
     7. Fight the lie that what we have and gain defines who we truly are.

Be kind and don’t heap shame or guilt on yourself for being distracted or absent-minded. The Lord is gracious and merciful to you. Accept that favor and forgiveness and let God’s love set the tone for your time alone.
Don’t expect fireworks or burning-bush-type moments. There may be a dramatic whisper from God, but there may not be one. This is not about excitable emotions. It’s about creating a rhythm with God where you put yourself in proximity to hear and be with him – to grow in your spiritual awareness.
Jesus often withdrew to places to be alone with God. We’re following His example when we get away. Make this monthly rhythm a time of reflection and don’t rush. Take at least three hours or a full day and be by yourself with God.
Journal and ask questions:

• What do you sense God inviting into in this season of life?
• Are there any areas of sin in your life that need to be confessed?
• What is God saying to you in His living word and through prayer?
• Are there any themes or patterns in your life that God is trying to use to get your attention?
• How has God been growing you lately?
• How are your habits forming you? 
• Are you stepping out of your busy life to hear the voice of God regularly?

There’s great anchoring power and hope in the two dynamics of solitude and community. To grow in Christlikeness – to truly experience God in our daily lives – we must become people who remain steadfast in our calling to be alone and together. This movement from silence and solitude to community is like breathing. We need to inhale and exhale to survive.
Let this monthly rhythm be a rich time of hanging out with our Heavenly Father – waiting for Him, wondering about Him, hoping in Him, dreaming dreams that He is stirring up in us, and listening in expectation that He still speaks to us personally. 

Matt Fogle is a guest columnist for Christ In Youth. He has served in student ministry since 2012 for Eastview Church in Normal, Illinois.