But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16 (NIV)
It’s mid-August. Have you felt the pull of autumn, yet? The gardens bulge with ripened fruits and veggies. Back-to-school sales remind us that our children soon trade in sand buckets for lunch boxes and flip flops for sneakers. We trade in our lazy summer days for quick-paced, action-packed schedules and before you know it, we’re preparing for our Christmas pageants and planning our New Year’s resolutions! (Yikes!)
It’s tempting to let the hectic autumn schedules dictate our pace until we find ourselves on overload, exhausted and physically ill from trying to keep up. In the midst of all our busyness, it’s important to schedule solitary time for us and especially for our children. Not only does solitude slow down our brains and our blood pressure, it clears room in our hearts for rest, creativity, and worship.
As we encourage our children and challenge ourselves to grow academically and develop new skills in in our sports or the arts, we should also allow time for spiritual growth. Here’s a few suggestions:
1. Veg Out – allow at least 60 minutes a day with nothing to do. Power nap, watch a healthy family sit-com, read for pleasure. This allows your body & mind to rest and create space to hear God.
2. Get alone – this is a must to maintain spiritual health. Get away by yourself at least 30 minutes per day. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you must. Use this time to reconnect your heart with God through scripture, worship songs, prayer, reading a devotion, journaling. However you connect best with God. Train children to do the same…maybe make a family worship time that includes solitude for 30 minutes. Be creative.
3. Play hard – worship creatively through your favorite form of expression (writing, music, painting, drawing, walking, biking, running, etc). The possibilities are endless.
4. Worship together – as a family and a faith community. Attend church as a family. Get children/youth involved in age-appropriate youth ministries so that promote worship and teaching. Join a small group community for yourself and/or your spouse. These smaller faith communities become your life-line of support, encouragement and prayer.
I’m sure there’s countless other ways to ensure time alone for spiritual growth. What are some ways you ensure this in your own life and your family?