I am a ‘green’ person. No, I am not a martian, or envious, or in love with money (um… I’m a pastor and a student… what is this “money” you speak of?). I do not not wrestle with bouts of nausea, plants generally die when I try my hand at gardening, and I could really use some serious improvement in reducing my carbon footprint. I am none of these things… but green means ‘go’, and I never slow down. I am most assuredly a ‘green’ person.
As you might expect, then, I naturally gravitate towards the spiritual disciplines which require me to do something. Prayer? Love it. Worship? Epic. The study of scripture? Bring it on. Accountability and confession? I’m so there. And then, there’s solitude.
I hate solitude.
The immediate, pressing needs dissipate, and the mind suddenly discovers it has space to breathe.
Stillness is an art I have yet to master. When I attempt to isolate myself, lingering in prayer and basking in the Lord’s presence, I quickly discover that I can’t stay focused. My mind wanders, and prayers that begin with “Dear Heavenly Father…” end with “…I wonder what I will have for lunch?” Left to its own devices, my brain betrays me.
As it turns out, I am not alone, and this “betrayal” is actually a necessary part of the spiritual process. The Christian mystics identified a phenomenon that would later be labeled “the rush of a thousand voices.” As one settles into prayer and isolation, circumstances quiet. The immediate, pressing needs dissipate, and the mind suddenly discovers it has space to breathe. In that moment, all those thoughts, memories, struggles, and contemplations which have been pressed to the far corners of the psyche come rushing forward in one chaotic stampede. In the midst of this, those sins which we have justified become exposed, those crises which have burdened us settle their weight back onto our shoulders, and those decisions we have been putting off suddenly burst into immediacy. The rush is uncomfortable. However, before one can truly practice stillness, there must come a purging married to prayer.
We discover this same marriage in Jesus, the dual combination of solitude and prayer. He went off by Himself to pray before calling His disciples (Luke 6:12-13), before going to the cross (Matthew 26:36-39), after experiencing a great success (Matthew 14), and even after receiving tragic news (Matthew 14:13). Jesus dealt with every major decision or emotional experience through prayer connected to solitude.
Solitude releases the rush of a thousand voices, but prayer quiets them with a still, small whisper.
The truth is, if solitude exposes our innermost struggles, prayer helps us to process them. Those sins we wrestle with are confessed in prayer. Those burdens are surrendered to God through prayer. Those decisions discover guidance in the midst of prayer. Solitude releases the rush of a thousand voices, but prayer quiets them with a still, small whisper.
I may be a green person, but I am slowly learning to breathe.
How about you? Have you ever experienced the “rush of a thousand voices”?
- Blog Spotlight: The Transforming Power of Missions with Dana Bruxvoort (ofdustandkings.com)
- 3 Ways Scripture Changes Us (Part 1): Discernment (ofdustandkings.com)
- Cultivating The Soul: Discipleship and Spiritual Transformation (ofdustandkings.com)