“How do you manage your prayer life?” I asked my senior pastor. “How do you invest in so many people’s lives and, then find time to pray for the growing list of needs that you become aware of?”
His wise reply spoke to another need. One that I didn’t realize I had.
He responded that I didn’t need a prayer plan to help manage my life. I needed to spend more time by myself. Not by myself going through my prayer list. Just by myself doing solitary things that nourish my soul. Things that fill me up as I pour out.
My husband and I have adopted a lifestyle of radical community. Our front door is always open and our home is often filled with people that we care for deeply.
I speak often about my belief that we are created to be in community. And regardless of whether we are an introvert or a extrovert – we all need to engage deeply with people who truly know us. We need to spend time with community where we are seen and valued and cared for.
My conversation with my pastor about the intentional practice of solitude helped me make a connection that the reverse is also true.
The practice of solitude is equally important regardless of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert like me.
We are all created in God’s image. Introverts and extroverts together reflect the wholeness of His nature. And regardless of our wiring, there is value in practicing a rhythm that includes both community and solitude.
Since that conversation with my pastor, I have adopted some patterns in my daily and weekly schedule to ensure that I’m spending some time by myself. It’s amazing how quickly the racing thoughts in my head pushing me to figure out how to manage more have quieted as peace fills those spaces instead.
I never needed an effective technique to manage my prayer life. I just needed to allow the sacred space that comes with solitude to strengthen and support my stretched soul.
Last week was busy and full and fun. I enjoyed consecutive activities with family, friends, and community. Sunday morning I woke up early to do some Superbowl food prep before church. Standing in my kitchen, sipping a cup of hot coffee, I suddenly felt very tired.
Not the usual trying-to-wake-up tired. A weary-to-the-bones tired.
On that beautiful Sunday morning, what I needed most was to disengage from community and allow my soul to be refreshed in solitude.
So I stay home from church.
I turned on some worship music and sang along while I cooked in my pajamas.
I listened to a podcast of a dear friend preaching a beautiful sermon.
I prayed for God’s blessing over my community while I touched up some signatures on my Table.
It was a holy morning. Spent in solitary activities. In the presence of God.
And by lunchtime my soul was at rest and my heart was full.
Sometimes I need a break from people – even My People. Because the example of godly living that Christ models in scripture is not a life that is spent constantly in community OR only in solitude.
Jesus lived his life with a rhythm that held space for both. And I’m learning to do the same.