And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he [Jesus] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there he prayed.
— Mark 1:35
Every day when I rise in the morning, I go to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, I grab my Bible, and I head to a hallowed place of prayer in our home. I shut the door to that room, which happens to be the TV room. There I have a leather chair that has become my daily meeting place with God each morning. Recently I looked at that chair, and it is practically ruined with “scratches” — crease marks — from the thousands of hours I have sat upon it as I’ve prayed. But those marks are precious to me because they represent countless hours I’ve spent sitting there, seeking the face of God and letting Him saturate my heart. Those scratches memorialize the place where I meet with God every morning unless I’m traveling abroad. (When Denise and I are traveling, we both rise early and seek out separate places where we each can pray privately just as we do when we are home.)
Denise kindly understands that as long as the door to our TV room is shut in the mornings, I am in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, reading my Bible, and allowing the Word of God to search my heart and soul to bring me into closer alignment with Jesus. Denise graciously never interrupts — unless it’s for some urgent reason — for she knows that this time alone with God will make me a better Christian, a better husband, and a more devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
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On days when I must be at morning meetings at our Moscow Good News Church — or on days when we are filming TV programs — I arise even earlier, because I simply cannot forgo this time with the Lord. So even on those days, I can be found there in the TV room — the door closed — seeking God and studying His Word before any of these other events take place.
I have learned that I cannot have productive days without this time with the Lord. During those early morning times, I pray and I pour out my heart to God with thanksgiving for all He has done in my life. I pray fervently for partners and for others who are on my prayer list. I virtually never start a day at home without sitting in that beloved chair to seek the face of God and to allow God’s Spirit to search my heart and bring me to a more intimate experience with Jesus.
When I think of this “hallowed” place that I have set apart for seeking God, my mind always goes to Jesus and to the fact that He would rise early in the mornings to seek a solitary place where He could be alone with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We read of this in Mark 1:35, where the Bible tells us, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there he prayed.”
When the verse says that Jesus rose up “a great while before day,” the Greek actually says He arose while it was still dark. His disciples may have still been sleeping — but Jesus sought a secluded place where He could enter into fellowship with the Holy Spirit. He understood that the strength and anointing He needed depended on His fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. So Jesus made it His highest priority to withdraw from the disciples and from the multitudes very early in the morning to spend time fellowshipping with the Father and the Holy Spirit without interruption. When everyone else was finally rising, He had already been touched and strengthened by God and was ready to emerge with a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit’s power on His life.
Because Jesus and the disciples were constantly on the move from one location to another location, He did not have the luxury of having the same leather chair to retreat to each day as I do. The place where He spent time in prayer was frequently different. But one thing that was true of each location is found in Mark 1:35, where it says that Jesus always sought a “solitary” place where He would not be disturbed.
Actually, Mark 1:35 says he “departed into a solitary place.” The word “departed” is a form of the Greek word aperchomai, which, in this case, means to seek distance away from other things. Jesus may have walked to the top of a mountain or into a ravine, but it was some place that was distant from His disciples and the multitudes. He deliberately sought “space” between Himself and others for this private time of prayer.
Mark went on to say that when Jesus arose, He went to a “solitary” place. The word “solitary” is the Greek word ermos, which describes a deserted place. To put it into today’s vernacular, we could say it was a remote spot, a place that was out of the way, somewhere off the beaten track, an obscure site, or an unfrequented location.
In other words, Jesus sought for a place where no one would accidentally find Him and disturb this solitary time in prayer. This demonstrates just how vitally important it was to Jesus to find time alone where the Father could speak to His heart and He could pour His heart out to the Father and fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
I don’t have a mountain to climb to find a remote location, and there are no ravines near my house. So I use what is next best — a room in my home that I have designated as “off-limits” during the time that door is closed. And during those “off-limit” times, I have deep and meaningful fellowship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And just as Jesus emerged from His solitary times renewed in power, I come forth from my daily times refreshed, reinvigorated, filled with new ideas, and empowered for my day.
Such moments of solitude with God are critical to the daily victory of every believer!
I want to ask if you have a “solitary place” where you “depart” — that is, where you put distance between yourself and others so you can have isolated time with the Lord? He longs to have this time with you — and you must have it if you are to live as an overcoming, victorious, empowered child of God.
If you answered yes, where is your solitary place where you meet with God? If your answer is no, I urge you today to begin seeking a place where you can develop this meaningful time with God in prayer!
For me, it all happens in a scratched-up leather chair in my TV room — a chair that bears all the marks of the time I’ve spent alone with God. And I can tell you for sure that if you really want to have this type of solitary time with the Lord, He will show you where, when, and how to do it!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, I make a fresh commitment to start each day by lifting my voice to You. Each morning, Lord, I will rise and present my life to You, waiting expectantly for what You will speak to my heart. I ask Your forgiveness for all the times I foolishly launched into my day without having read your Word, sought Your face, or consulted the Holy Spirit whom You sent to be my Counselor, Helper, and Guide. Father, how arrogant and misguided of me to believe I could walk effectively in wisdom and truth without having submitted myself to You first. Only through rich fellowship with You can I produce fruit that remains. Forgive me for mistaking busyness for fruitfulness. I abide in You and let Your words abide in me. I treasure the words of Your mouth more than my necessary food. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me order my day and to keep it set around giving my time with the Father first place from this day forward.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I do not neglect my time in a “solitary place” with God. I deliberately designate an off-limits time and place where I can have deep, meaningful, and uninterrupted fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus arose a great while before day to meet with the Father and then emerged from His solitary times renewed in power, I come forth from my daily times refreshed, reinvigorated, filled with new ideas, and empowered for my day. These moments of solitude with the Father keep my heart sensitive and yielded to Him while equipping me to possess my daily victory in the power of His might!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you have a “solitary place” where you meet with God every day? What time of the day do you set aside for this special moment? Is it in the morning, at lunch, or in the evenings before you go to bed?
- It may be hard for you to rise early, but I strongly suggest that you develop a discipline of rising early before your day gets started so that you can be touched, refreshed, and empowered for whatever you will face each day. What earlier time could you start getting up to spend this time in prayer?
- Do you feel that you actually know how to fellowship with the Lord in prayer? If not, don’t be embarrassed. Get an online Bible-reading plan and start there, fellowshipping with the Lord as you read His Word. As the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart about certain verses, stop and reflect on them. Let His words sink deep into your heart. That is an excellent starting point!