Prayer in Solitude

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”. Lewis connection follows:

Scripture: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matt: 6, 6)


"The basis of every holy life must be a living, constant conversation of the soul with God – in the secret place of the human heart, far from people, eye-to-eye, so to speak, with the Lord Himself. The whole meaning of prayer consists in this direct, close personal communion of man and God, in which a person acquires access to the Throne of the Almighty. We are, undoubtedly, always and everywhere in God’s presence, but Christ Himself indicated to us the necessity of solitude in our cell for prayer, and experience shows all the benefit of such solitude, when it becomes habitual.

"There, in our sanctuary, far from everything of the world and people, we will find the source of living water to quench our spiritual thirst; there the flame of our faith will glow with renewed strength; there we will be given wings for safe flight above the abyss of doubt and sin. Let us seek solitude, and in it we will find our Heavenly Father; in the light of His face, in the living realization of His fatherly love, we will learn to pray. And although the Lord does not demand from us that we pray for a long time, and does not see merit in using many words, we need, at the beginning of the day, in which, perhaps, many difficulties and cares await us, to be strengthened along the way and to acquire new energy in the solitude of our cell. There we will lay at His feet everything that frightens us in the labor before us, and, asking for His blessing for this labor, illuminated by His light, filled with His Spirit and armed with prayer, we will go fearlessly forward to meet the trials awaiting us.

“Be certain that every time we stand before God, even for a short time, we will receive a blessing from above and ‘then your Father in Heaven, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you openly’ (Matt: 6,6)”

The above meditation is only one of two of the total of 366 (as I recall), directed toward monks, specifically, as evidenced by the reference to “cells”. But Christ’s words, in the scriptural passage above, are clearly not directed specifically to monks, and this meditation has been inspirational for me from the point of view of allotting a specific time and place to pray in solitude on a daily basis – for me, it is the half hour before bedtime. But for Lewis, this is what he writes in Letter 3 of “Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer”:

“And, talking of sleepiness, I entirely agree with you that no one in his senses, if he has any power of ordering his own day, would reserve his chief prayers for bed-time–obviously the worst possible hour for any action which needs concentration. The trouble is that thousands of unfortunate people can hardly find any other. Even for us, who are the lucky ones, it is not always easy. My own plan, when hard pressed, is to seize any time, and place, however unsuitable, in preference to the last waking moment. On a day of travelling–with, perhaps, some ghastly meeting at the end of it–I’d rather pray sitting in a crowded train than put it off till midnight when one reaches a hotel bedroom with aching head and dry throat and one’s mind partly in a stupor and partly in a whirl. On other, and slightly less crowded, days a bench in a park, or a back street where one can pace up and down, will do.”


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)