We need to distinguish between aloneness, loneliness and solitude. Aloneness is a state of being physically separated from other people. At times family, friends and other persons are missing from our presence, but just because we are alone does not necessarily mean we are lonely. We simply take these times in stride and recognize that life cannot always be filled with people.
Actually, we can accomplish a lot when we are alone. We can spend time with God and deepen our fellowship with him. The psalmist David wrote: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved” (Psalm 62:1-2).
“Loneliness is the single experience most common to all of us, yet is also the most misunderstood” (Ira J. Tanner, Loneliness: The Fear of Love). Loneliness is universal; every person alive experiences it in some measure. Loneliness, you see, is not caused by our circumstances but is a state of mind. It is a feeling that no one and no thing is responsive to our deep hunger for support and love.
And then we have solitude, the act of intentionally withdrawing from others for the purpose of being alone. This is the time when we can be refreshed spiritually and restored emotionally — a time of renewal and creativity. Jesus Himself needed these times of solitude with His heavenly Father. “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23).
The superficiality that characterizes the modern Christian is due largely to the lack of solitude. We rush here and there to concerts, rallies, Bible studies, crusades, retreats, conferences, and services of every description thinking we are “filling our cup” — all the while wondering why we feel so empty and, yes, lonely, even in the midst of a crowd of people. But Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor … and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night [suddenly]” (2 Peter 3:10). God uses faithful servants — sometimes those with national pulpits and at other times humble, unknown, hidden watchmen — to deliver his words of warning. Only those who are not in love with this world and yearn for the coming of the Lord will have the message ring true in their hearts.
God warns his faithful ones so that when sudden disaster strikes, they are not swept away with fear. When dreadful events occur, God’s people must know that what has happened is not an accident or a random act. They are to have the peace of Christ in their hearts, knowing that our God is still master of the universe. They will not panic when other men’s hearts are failing them for fear at all the frightful things they see coming on the earth.
Peter goes on to say, “The heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (3:10).
To whom is the apostle Peter addressing these words? The answer is found in 2 Peter 3:1: “Beloved, I now write to you.” He is addressing the faithful remnant of believers. Whenever we hear words like Peter’s, our first response is to recoil. “There’s too much bad news today. Why do we have to hear this message now? Why not just let it happen?” But Peter had a reason: “Since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (3:11).
In light of the sudden dissolving of all things, God’s beloved people ought to check their own behavior. Those who look for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy ought to be conformed to the image of Christ, in conduct, in conversation and in thought. Make no mistake, the fire is coming. And for that reason, we are to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (3:14).
Boldness in prayer comes from having a knowledge of something called “binding precedent.” If you can grasp this truth, it will forever change the way you pray. A precedent is a “preceding case” that serves as an example in subsequent cases. And a “binding precedent” is a legal decision made in the past that becomes an authoritative rule for similar cases in the future. For judges, this means having to stand by a decision that has already been made.
Good lawyers regularly rely on “binding precedent” for their cases because they know a precedent will stand up in court. They search their law books to find favorable cases from the past that can fortify their arguments in court, and they also seek out the counsel of skilled legal advisors who point out precedent decisions to pertain to their own case.
All through the Bible we find holy men and women who seek out this kind of “binding precedent.” A perfect example of this is King Jehoshaphat. When Jehoshaphat ruled over Judah, he faced an invasive army. The nation trembled helplessly before this mighty force, so Jehoshaphat “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3). The people prayed, fasted, interceded and repented — and the king brought God’s “precedent mercies” up before him:
“O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” (20:6). Jehoshaphat was binding God to his past mercies: “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (20:7).
Jehoshaphat reminded God, “Lord, you gave your people an eternal word, and I bring it before you now. The promises you made to Abraham and our fathers are still binding on you to fulfill for us.” Of course, God answered Jehoshaphat, and Judah’s enemy was defeated. God was bound to his own Word.
Be bold in prayer today and watch him fulfill his promises in your life.
You may be enjoying a season of good times right now — no great stress, discouraging tests or deep pain. I am grateful to the Lord for providing such seasons in the lives of his children. But we know from Scripture that storms and great trials eventually come to all who have truly given everything to Christ. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
Many who endure long trials question within, “Lord, have I grieved you in some way? Is there something in my life that hinders you from hearing my cry? I’ve been faithful to your Word, so why am I having this never-ending trial? The Bible says you won’t allow me to suffer more than I’m able to bear, but I feel like I’m at the breaking point.”
For centuries great Christians have tried to probe the reasons for the suffering of the godly, but answers seem elusive. Books are filled with opinions and advice, but the most effective approach to endurance is to cry out, “Lord, I must draw from your Word for my present need.”
A believer comes to the place where he makes a choice either to remain lukewarm in his faith or cross the line to follow Jesus with all his heart. Although it is not possible to fully understand why Christians suffer, one thing is certain: Once you set your heart to seek the Lord, determining to lay hold of his promises, you become a target of Satan.
The devil recognizes something in every devoted Christian — something that is absolutely destructive to his kingdom. It happens when a child of God resolves to trust the Lord through everything, drawing near to him in spite of pain and difficulty. You become a target of the devil because he knows the foundations of hell are being shaken. His entire strategy is to get you to take your eyes off the victory of the cross.
Do not concentrate on your weaknesses, your sins, your shortcomings but, instead, focus on Jesus and the victory he promises.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12).
When God tells us to come boldly to his throne, it is not a suggestion, it is his preference — and it is to be heeded. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV). The word “effectual” comes from a Greek word that means “a fixed position.” It suggests an immovable, unshakeable mindset. Likewise, “fervency” speaks of boldness built on solid evidence, absolute proof that supports your petition. Together, these two words — effectual fervency — mean coming into God’s court fully convinced that you have a well-prepared case — beyond emotions, loudness, and pumped-up enthusiasm.
Such prayer can only come from a servant who searches God’s Word and is fully persuaded that the Lord is bound to honor it. Indeed, it is important that not one of us goes into God’s presence without bringing his Word with us. The Lord wants us to bring his promises, remind him of them, bind him to them — and stand on them.
Some Christians say, “I don’t really ask God for much. I pray only for his will in my life, for his plan to be brought about on the earth. I seek him only for himself, not for his gifts.” I have even said this at times because I thought such an attitude was holy, but in truth it is not. The all-knowing, all-powerful God of creation has given us his personal invitation to come boldly to his throne and then to make requests of him.
Quiet times of worship with the Lord are truly wonderful. Yet there come times when the conditions of our lives become so critical that another kind of praying is necessary. At such times, the door is open and we are to come before the Lord with confidence that he will keep his Word.