After you have found, and have gotten in the habit of going to those quiet places, those places of outer solitude, you must next learn inner solitude—that is, learn how to close the door of your heart. David Runcorn said, “Outer solitude is in order to learn inner solitude”
The sad reality, however, is that too often we stop our search, having achieved only outer solitude. I suppose that is because inner solitude takes too much time and effort. But if we keep at it, keep struggling to find it, we will find it and be pleasantly surprised; for with inner solitude we can be at peace with God anywhere you go.
So what really is this inner solitude? I think I would describe it this way:
1. It is that state in which you are at peace and at rest in Christ because you have confessed your sins, He has cleansed you from sin, and He feels at home within you (Eph. 3:17).
2. It is having a mind that is being strengthened with might through God’s Spirit—which is being rooted and grounded in the love of God and Christ, and that is constantly thinking about, dwelling on, and getting to know and comprehend the love of Christ and the fullness of God (Eph. 3:16-19). Therefore, the state of inner solitude is that state in which your mind is clear and strong and is always thinking about God and getting to know Him.
3. It is having a mind that delights in God’s Word and is satisfied with being His slave and a slave of righteousness (Rom. 7:22, 25).
4. It is an inner peace that guards the heart and mind when we trust Him to take care of us (Phil. 4:7, Is. 26:3).
Now the question is how does one go about making Christ to be at rest within, so he will obtain this inner peace and strength? Well, mainly, I would say, we do it by deciding to let go of all our sins and cares and wants, and by simply asking God to fill up our life with Himself, to take control of our life and give us His peace.
This of course is a continual process. Since we live in a sinful world and have sinful flesh, we will no doubt continue to sin, which is always grievous to the Lord and it always takes away our peace. But God has given us a solution; He has given us a way to continually wash away that sin. All we have to do is confess our sins to Him and He will forgive us and cleanse us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This verse of truth is the Christian’s bar of soap. It is the way we can continue to cleanse ourselves from sin and have continual peace. We must never neglect to use it. God has given it to us and it works.
Our natural tendency is to deny our sin (v. 8). But don’t ever deny your sin or try to hide it. If we do that we are calling God a liar (v. 10), for God has told us that we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23).
But He has given us an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 Jn. 2:1). If we confess our sins to the Father He will forgive us because of what Jesus Christ has done for us (Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, 1 Jn. 2:2). He died for our sins on the cross paying the penalty for our sins. Therefore, every time we confess our sins we are forgiven and cleansed because of Jesus’ shed blood for us.
Let us never neglect to confess our sins. For when we confess our sins to God, the blood of Christ is applied to our heart and gives us immediate peace and joy.
The next steps you need to take to gain inner solitude is to be open to what God is saying to you, and then do what He wants you to do. If you have truly confessed your sins you will want to do everything He wants you to do. If you have wronged a brother or sister, God will be telling you in your spirit to get the situation right with them. And so you need to do that. Likewise, with regard to anything that is sinful and that displeases God, you need to confess it to God and be open to do what He wants you to do. It will no doubt involve some changes in your life.
When you have gotten these things taken care of—when you have confessed your sins and made things right—you have made it possible for Christ to be at rest and at peace within you. Hence, you have opened up the line of communication between God’s Spirit and your spirit. This is what inner solitude means—or we could also call it inner peace.
Now some may say, I have found places of quiet and I have found occasional inner peace, but every once in a while when I pray I am distracted by noises and I can’t seem to make the noises go away.
Well, let me say, first of all, if you are distracted by noises you really haven’t acquired that inner peace. There may be some sin in your life you need to deal with so that God will give you peace. Moreover, if you are trying to make the noises go away you don’t really have the right approach. What you really ought to do is accept the noises and pray over them. The noises are what your situation is; it is the world around you; it may be the devil distracting you; it may be God trying to get your attention; no doubt it is a combination of things. If you reject the noises you are rejecting God and the world God has put you in. Remember, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). So, what you need to do is accept those noises as being part of your world; accept them and pray over them, and eventually what you thought to be a distraction will result in a good purpose. Yes, thank God for each bit of noise and for each voice and for each stray thought, and pray over each one. Regard them all not as a hindrance to prayer but as opportunities for prayer, even as prayer requests sent from heaven. Soon each bit of noise will be not distraction but blessings straight from heaven.
The above is an except from my book Joy of Prayer.