“Begin small and start promptly” is an old Quaker saying. The idea is to keep things simple and to begin soon. Simplicity begins with solitude—not mere time alone, but time alone with God. Henri Nouwen wrote: “Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists, but that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention.”
But where can we find solitude? Where can we find a quiet place in the midst of the din and demands of this world? “In a crowd, it’s difficult to see God,” Augustine said. “This vision craves secret retirement.” “Go into your room,” Jesus said, “close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (matthew 6:6).
There is a meeting place as close as our closet door—a time and place where we can meet with God and hear His thoughts and He can hear ours; a time for the two of us when He can have our full attention and we can have His.
Solitude can be a healing place where God repairs the damage done by the noise of the world. “The more you visit it,” Thomas á Kempis said, “the more you will want to return.”
“I will awaken the dawn,” said David (psalm 57:8). There’s something to be said for meeting God before our busy days and schedules begin to tyrannize us. But we must not understand this in some legalistic way to mean we have to get up before the sun to merit a meeting with God. For many, morning is the most opportune time; for others, there are times when it not only seems easier to meet with God, it is easier. It’s something you have to work out with your body. The main thing is eagerness to meet Him. The advantage of doing so early is that we hear His thoughts before others invade our minds.
The first step is to find a Bible, a quiet place, and an uninterrupted period of time. Sit quietly and remind yourself that you’re in the presence of God. He is there with you, eager to meet with you. “Stay in that secret place,” A. W. Tozer said, “till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart, till a sense of God’s presence has enveloped you. Listen for His inward voice till you learn to recognize it.”