On the third Sunday of Lent (3/20/22), Anglican churches all over the world prayed this prayer.
Heavenly Father, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you: Look with compassion upon the heartfelt desires of your servants, and purify our disordered affections, that we may behold your eternal glory in the face of Christ Jesus; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect for the 3rd Sunday of Lent – ACNA BCP 2019
- our hearts are restless until they rest in you
- look with compassion upon the heartfelt desires of your servants
- purify our disordered affections
These phrases jumped off the page. The third week of lent, the halfway point, is a time when the enthusiasm of giving up something for this 40-day season may have waned. I feel a bit done with being done with something I enjoy. I am seeking valid reasons to press the pause button and question the validity of my pitiful sacrifice. After all, what difference does it make? My restless heart is running wild.
There it is listed in the prayer: restless hearts and disordered affections.
What does my restless heart need during this Lenten midpoint? What does it look like to rest in God? Do I finally have spiritual justification for a nap? It certainly does wonders for my grandchildren. What about my disordered affections. Do I too often love what is not suitable for my soul? Do I prioritize things or people over God?
The spiritual discipline of silence and solitude might be something to test drive. It could be a way to:
- find true rest
- spend time under God’s compassionate gaze
- have my disordered affections sorted out
Donald S. Whitney in his book, ”Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” says,
“The simple act of silence before the Lord, as opposed to coming to Him in a wordy fret, can be a demonstration of faith in Him.”
In Psalm 62, David seeks God from a posture of silence and solitude.
1 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. 3 How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? 4 Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Psalm 62:1-4 NIV
While I am not under attack from an earthly enemy, the way David often was, who or what keeps me from resting in God and spending time in solitude and silence?
Technology intrudes on almost every moment of my waking hours.
It is hard to disconnect and take time alone with God. I am constantly monitoring my cell phone because someone might need me. Because it is all at the touch of a button, I find myself continually checking weather updates, news headlines, and updates on friends and family. The situation cuts the other way too. Have you ever received an irritated message because you failed to respond to a voicemail, text message, or status update immediately? In recent years reasonable response times have shrunk to minutes, not even hours.
I set a timer for 10 minutes this morning and sat in a chair on my back porch. I refused to pick up my phone until the timer went off. I intentionally chose to sit because it meant I was doing nothing. It would be too easy to get some steps in or begin weeding my patio plants. Those ten minutes ticked by slowly, and the chattering monkeys came to visit. Landscaping ideas ping-ponged into my brain, and I counted puddles of water around my yard left from the storm that swept through last night. I pushed those thoughts gently away and tried to clear my mind of nothing but God. I had to do this more than once.
“What do you want me to know, Lord?” I sat and pondered.
Ten minutes of silence is much longer than I expected. But, I did begin to hear the Lord’s still, small voice telling me He loves me, and I don’t have to do things for him to earn His love.
Do I find silence and solitude hard? Yes
Is it hard to put down my phone because there might be an emergency? Yes
Do I feel the need to be available to my people 24/7? Yes, so much.
God knows this. He has David remind me of the only place I can rest from the futile attempt to be all things to all people.
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 6 Truly, he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 8 Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8 NIV
Verse 5 sounds like a conversation I might need to have. I must remind my soul to find rest in God again and again and again. Hope will naturally follow this practice because I will regain God’s perspective. I will no longer believe the lie that it is all up to me. This soul recalibration helps me gain God’s wisdom and insight.
If God is my rock, salvation, and fortress, I will not be shaken by external storms like bad news updates or internal fears and anxieties. I can pour out all my worries and then sit in silence, knowing He will care for every single concern I have. He will do it with abundance because He is the God of the universe, and I am not.
9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. 10 Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:9-10 NIV
These two verses also remind me that God is fair. Even when I don’t see justice, He works in unseen ways. While an evil earthly tyrant might try to take possession of an entire country on the other side of the world, God is still working behind the scenes for His purposes. God can and will bring provision. That is not up to me.
11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.” Psalm 62:11-12 NIV
Finally, these two verses speak to how well God knows His children. First, these things are so vital for us to hear God will send the message more than once. Second, God has all the power, and I do not. I can relax in knowing it is not up to me to fix everything, care for everyone, and do and do until I collapse in exhaustion.
God’s love for me does not fail, and it fills me with His love for others. Solitude and silence with God will re-order my affections. I no longer strain to love those I find hard to enjoy. God can fill me with His love for others if I draw near. I don’t have to try harder or do more.
God is ultimately the only fair judge in this world. He will reward everyone according to their deeds. In verse 12, God’s mercy and justice sit together. God does not give us what we deserve, but instead, He empowers us to do what He calls us to do. Will I obediently do what He has called me to and promised to help me do? Or will I continue to strive based on my strength?
Verse 12 could appear to contradict what God spoke to me today. However, God does not need me to do anything for him. Doing is not how I find my value. He has it all done and covered. However, he chooses to partner with each of us in his projects and works. When I come right beside Him, the yoke is easy and the burden light (Matthew 11:28-30). He rewards me with that joyful participation as He recalibrates my weary heart.
Spending time in solitude and silence might help me hear from God more clearly. Of course, for me, it might only come in small increments of 10-minute sessions, but perhaps I can build on that?
How about you? How do you find solitude and silence?