FFF 8:6 (June 1962)
In the four Gospels we read of the earthly ministry of the Son of God. Wherever He was, it is recorded that a great throng accompanied Him, listening to the gracious words He spoke and witnessing the kind deeds He wrought. Yet, in His busy life, we see Him constantly drawing aside from the crowds, and even from His disciples, to commune with the Father. Our Lord was very often in a place of solitude.
The Place of Solitude
Early in the morning before the sky was flushed with the eastern sun, the Lord of Glory was found on bended knees alone with God. The perfect Man lived in perfect fellowship and unhindered communion with His Father. In these days of trial and testing, what a divine privilege it is for the child of God to come to the secluded place for prayer! It is here the fainting heart is lifted above earthly cares, and the soul is occupied with the One who hears and answers prayer.
Abraham the friend of God, called out of heathendom for a great and holy purpose, was found at times in the place of solitude. In that place he was able to intercede with God on behalf of a wicked city. He prayed, “Wilt Thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?” “Peradventure,” he cried, “there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt Thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous?” For forty and five; for forty; for thirty; for twenty; and for ten, he prayed on. The man through whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed interceded for these few; he stopped in his intercession before God stopped in His granting. Are we standing yet before the Lord? Are we saying prayers instead of praying?
Jacob knew what it was to be left alone with God at Jabbok (Gen. 32:24). His family, servants, and belongings, he had sent on ahead. In an all-night struggle, there wrestled a man with him who prevailed over him and converted the carnal Jacob into a spiritual Jacob.
Moses, a man mighty in word and deed, was another who learned of God in solitude… On the backside of the desert God prepared and filled him as a suitable vessel, and from that seclusion he came forth as the emancipator of God’s people from the tyranny of Pharaoh. All God’s servants in all ages should know the power and place of prayer in their lives. Whether it be Elijah at Cherith, Paul at Arabia, or John at Patmos, all need to know the secret of spiritual strength. Oh, that the people of God might search their ways, and seek the face of the Lord, and before Him learn the true value of waiting upon the Lord in prayer! It is only as the child of God reaches some spiritual Jabbok, the place of pouring out or emptying, that he can claim the blessing of God. Hosea states that on that night at Jabbok, Jacob wept and made supplication (Hos. 12:4). If our intercession is tearless, we shall not experience the blessing of Jacob. As a prince with God he had power with men, but power with God must precede power with men. It is important that we remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” It is only as we learn to pray that our lives are patterned after the Lord Jesus, and our testimonies witness to Christ in an effective manner. Prayer not only requires a place of solitude, but, thank God, it results in strength.
The Place of Strength
How often the joy of God’s salvation causes the heart to burn! There are other times when it remains cold, and prayer has very little appeal. When we reach such a low state, we need to resort to the Throne of Grace in order to find restoration and strength. How often the chilly atmosphere of the world presses upon us, and the cares of this life crowd out the spirit of intercession! Yet, it is through the medium of prayer that we pass from the region of sight into a realization of the presence of God. This is our stronghold in days of trials and testings. How wonderful that we should be permitted to call upon the Name of the Lord in prayer! How gratifying to kneel in His presence, and through the worth and work of the Lord Jesus, commune with Him! Here lies the believers source of power. It is written, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). How often we fail and become discouraged because we do not take some certain matter to the Lord in prayer. Precious are the words:
“What a friend we have in Jesus!
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit!
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”
Oh, to turn for help from self and from the things of the world to before us. May we have grace to spend more time in the closed room, look to One who is at the right hand of the Majesty on High, our Burden-Bearer and our Great High Priest! He is able to succour and sustain us in view of the journey that lies alone with God, enjoying communion with the Lord Jesus, for then shall we be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.