Back to Bethel: The Lonely Night (ZT Fomum)

Jacob came to such a place. Unbroken people need to face such a night. It is indispensable for a deep work of God to be done in their lives.

The Bible says of Jacob,

“So the present passed on before him; and he himself lodged that night in the camp” (Genesis 32:21).

Jacob was approaching the greatest crisis of his life. At the natural level, he was soon going to meet Esau. If his attempts to appease Esau failed, Esau would carry out his initial plan of twenty years before. He would kill Jacob and destroy all that was his. Jacob approached the future with deep uncertainty. All was dark to him. He might have asked himself over and over, “Of what use was the blessing I had stolen? I have been cheated all along. I was cheated and given Leah instead of Rachel. My wages were changed. I have acquired all this and soon it could be the end.” It was night in his soul.

I have seen many people come to that same position in life, and some have come there quite early. I well remember a young man of 24 who shared a research laboratory in graduate school with me. He told me, “The Indian youth is a frustrated youth. What future is there for him? I am a frustrated man. What will a doctorate’s degree in organic chemistry bring to me?” I met another man. He was making a lot of money but he said, “Life has disappointed me.” I have met many people at the University—both teachers and students—and they have come to the night of disillusionment very early in their lives.

Jacob came to such a place. Unbroken people need to face such a night. It is indispensable for a deep work of God to be done in their lives.

The Bible says of Jacob,

“The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. And Jacob was left alone” (Genesis 32:22-24). 

Jacob was left alone. He was temporarily separated from all those who were his and from all that he had. He was alone.

It is important that each believer should learn how to withdraw from the presence of men in order to stay in the presence of God. Each believer must learn how to stay increasingly in the presence of the Lord. The sad thing is that there are too few believers who are growing in the area of withdrawal from

  • people,

  • things or

  • themselves

in order that they may stay with God alone. You should ask yourself when it was that you last spent six hours,

  1. twelve hours,

  2. twenty-four hours,

  3. forty-eight hours,

  4. seventy-two hours,

during which you did not see the face of man; you did not think of the things of this world and you did not think of some pleasure plan of yours in this world, but you saw only the face of God or stayed only in His presence and

  • talked to Him,

  • listened to Him,

  • read His Word,

  • thought about His Kingdom.

How can two people grow in natural love if they do not take time to be together? How can love grow and deepen if they do not take time to withdraw from all the others in order that they may be alone in each other’s presence? At the level of human love, the withdrawal of lovers is spontaneous. No one waits to be told that. It just happens. The love between the two people causes them to withdraw in order to share their thoughts and plans together. Those who love the Lord Jesus cannot be satisfied to receive only that general love which the Lord gives them when the others are there. They seek that special touch of the Lord which can only be given when others are absent. Any believer who does not take time to be with the Lord alone is not in love with Him. One evidence of a growing relationship with the Lord is that the person will want to spend longer periods in the Lord’s presence alone with Him, and that the growing believer will yearn and labour to ensure that these periods of withdrawal to be with Him are increasingly frequent. The whole matter is of such basic importance that we shall treat it in a book on its own. For now, let me say that those who have very shallow contact with the Lord do not love Him. They should do something about it. It could be indicative of an unholy attachment to man or to things. It could result from the fact that the person is living in obvious disobedience and he is afraid to face God and be told things clearly. It could result from the fact that the person lives amongst people who never withdraw to be with the Lord alone and so the person has never had such an example before him. Whatever the reason may be, in your case, do something to remedy the situation.

There are things that the Lord may say to those who come often into His presence, with a pure heart, for fifteen minutes. There are things that He will say to those who come often into His presence for thirty minutes or for one hour or for two hours. I figure that what He says to each one of them is different. However, there are things that the Lord will say to those who are locked up with Him for

  1. six hours,

  2. twelve hours,

  3. one day,

  4. three days or

  5. one week.

I know from personal experience that the quality of communion varies depending on the time that is spent in His presence alone. Another way to look at it is this, “If the Lord has a message for you which will take six hours to deliver, and you are one of those who cannot be totally separated unto Him for more than one hour, will He deliver the message that He has for you during the occasional one-hour periods in His presence? The likelihood is that He will not. There are some things that cannot be broken into bits. However, for those who love the Lord and because of that love, they linger in His presence, always looking for an additional excuse not to go away from His presence, the Lord will say His special things to them.

There are dealings with God that must transpire when one is alone with Him. I exhort you to give Him room to deal with you in a deep way. One such dealing with God can transform your whole life and ministry. It will cause scales to fall from your eyes, so that you may begin to see things as they are. Recently, I withdrew to seek the Lord. He came and spoke to me for six hours, from one o’clock in the morning to seven o’clock in the morning. He had never had such a long message for me. Some of the things that He told me about myself shook me. I will share just a few of them with you. I will not say anything about what He said about my ministry. This is because although He talked to me for about four hours about my ministry to Him, to the saints and to the world, during the last ten years and in the years to come; although He gave me specific instructions and lines of actions, there were a number of things in which He told me to draw up plans according to the desires of my heart and bring them up to Him for discussion. I have drawn up the plans but I have not yet taken time to withdraw to wait on Him. Last time, I was on a fasting retreat and His visit was at one o’clock in the morning of the fourth day. So I must prepare to go to Him and discuss the plans that I have drawn up during a time when I will be able to spend many days before Him, preparing and waiting for Him, and it could be that He may want me to spend many days in His presence afterwards. Anyway, He told me that:

  • My level of prayer was lamentably poor; that even when I spent many hours before Him, I prayed like a child. He said that I do not ask Him things that will enable Him to spend His vast resources. He said that I was still at the asking stage of prayer and hardly knew anything about the seeking plane. He then said that I knew nothing at all about the violent plane of knocking. I was surprised because I thought that I had made much progress in these planes of prayer. I will ask Him to teach me.

  • He said that when I came into His presence I talked to Him but I did not enjoy Him. In addition, I did not allow Him to enjoy me. He told me that I often went away just before He had started to enjoy me, and this was sad.

  • He said that I was not to do anything whatsoever without seeking Him, knowing His mind on the matter and receiving specific instructions.

  • He told me that I was to watch out against all sin in my life, however small it might be. He said that my life had great potential and that He would bless me enormously. However, He said that if I compromised with sin, especially the sin of self-exhibition, everything would be grounded.

Yes, the Lord spoke. He was not in a hurry and I was not in a hurry. There was communion.

The men who have made progress with God usually withdrew to meet Him in special ways. Saul of Tarsus, who later became the apostle Paul, withdrew for three years in Arabia to sort out the implications of his ministry, Moses was on the mountain top for forty days on two occasions. I know many serious men of God who habitually go away to be with the Lord and come back in the power and knowledge of the Lord. They come back carrying something of God that makes their lives and ministry a blessing in a way that is not easy to explain.

If you want to make progress with the Lord, you will have to learn increasingly to reduce your contact with men and increase your contact with God. You will have to convert some of the time that you spend with man into time spent with God. There is no choice about the matter. Let me, however, advise you to go about it gradually. The spiritual life resembles the natural life in many ways. In the natural life, a child learns to

  • speak,

  • talk and

  • walk

slowly. There are the first steps which are not steady, but gradually the steps become firm and at some point the child is able to run. No child ever starts to walk by running. You should be prepared to take the first step and even be prepared to make mistakes in the process of learning.

You may be asking, “How can I have a retreat? Where can I go? For how long should I go? What should I do during the retreat?” First of all, let me say that you should not say that you cannot go on a retreat to meet the Lord because you do not know of a place where you can go. If you have a room where you live alone, you can shut yourself up in your room for as long as you want to withdraw and be with the Lord. On the other hand, you could ask someone to do you the favour of allowing you to use a room in his house for the period of the retreat. If all the possibilities fail, you should hire a room in a hotel and be lost in the Lord there. You can meet the Lord anywhere, provided you are prepared to withdraw from men and from yourself, in order to be separated unto Him.

The second thing is how you should use your time during the retreat. I make the following suggestions for someone who wants to have a 24 hour retreat with fasting or without fasting, then a 12 hour, 6 hour and 3 hour retreat; all of them having different values. Try each one of them, beginning with the 3 hour retreat and go upwards. You will be blessed.

SUGGESTED TIME-TABLE FOR A RETREAT WITHOUT FOOD

  • 04.30 - 06.30 Quiet Time.

  • 06.45 - 07.00 Cleaning Up.

  • 07.15 - 09.15 Prayer time-1

  • 09.30 - 10.00 Relaxation

  • 10.15 - 12.15 Prayer Time-2

  • 12.30 - 13.30 Siesta

  • 13.45 - 14.45 Bible Reading

  • 15.00 - 17.00 Prayer Time-3

  • 17.15 - 17.45 Relaxation

  • 18.00 - 20.00 Prayer Time-4

  • 20.15 - 21.45 Prayer Time-5

  • 22.00 - 23.30 Prayer Time-6

  • 23.45 - 04.15 Sleep and Rest.

Summary : 13.0 hours of praying.

02.0 hours of Bible Reading.

05.5 hours of sleep and rest.

SUGGESTED TIME-TABLE FOR A TWELVE HOUR RETREAT.

  • - 0.15 : Quiet before the Lord.

  • 0.15 - 0.30 : Reading of a Psalm.

  • 0.30 - 1.30 : Prayer 1

  • 1.30 - 1.45 : Singing.

  • 1.45 - 2.45 : Prayer 2

  • 2.45 - 3.00 : Break, relaxation.

  • 3:00 - 3.15 : Bible Reading.

  • 3.15 - 4.15 : Prayer 3

  • 4.15 - 4.30 : Light meal.

  • 4.30 - 4.45 : Relaxation.

  • 4.45 - 5.15 : Bible Reading

  • 5.15 - 6.15 : Prayer 4

  • 6.15 - 6.30 : Relaxation.

  • 6.30 - 7.30 : Prayer 5.

  • 7.30 - 7.45 : Light meal.

  • 7.45 - 8.00 : Singing.

  • 8.00 - 9.00 : Prayer 6

  • 9.00 - 9.30 : Bible Reading.

  • 9.30 - 10.30 : Prayer 7

  • 10.30 - 10.45 : Relaxation.

  • 10.45 - 11.30 : Waiting before God.

  • 11.30 - 12.00 : Writing out decisions reached with God.

SUGGESTED PROGRAMME FOR A SIX HOUR RETREAT

  • 0.15 : Calm before the Lord.

  • 0.15 - 0.45 : Prayer 1

  • 0.45 - 1.00: Reading a Psalm followed by singing a hymn.

  • 1:00 - 1.30 : Prayer 2.

  • 1.30 - 1.45 : Bible Reading

  • 1.45 - 2.15 : Prayer 3

  • 2.15 - 2.30 : Light refreshment.

  • 2.30 - 3.00 : Prayer 4

  • 3.00 - 3.15 : Bible Reading.

  • 3.15 - 3.45 : Prayer 5

  • 3.45 - 4.00: Relaxation with Refreshment.

  • 4.00 - 4.30: Prayer 6

  • 4.30 - 5.00: Waiting before God.

  • 5.00 - 5.30: Prayer 7

  • 5.30 - 5.45: Writing out decisions reached with God.

  • 5.45 - 6.00: Praise and Thanksgiving.

SUGGESTED PROGRAMME FOR A THREE HOUR RETREAT.

  • 0.00 - 0.15 : Praise and thanksgiving.

  • 0.15 - 0.30 : Prayer 1.

  • 0.30 - 0.45 : Prayer 2.

  • 0.45 - 1.00 : Bible Reading.

  • 1.00 - 1.15 : Prayer 3

  • 1.15 - 1.30 : Relaxation with Refreshment.

  • 1.30 - 1.45 : Prayer 4

  • 1.45 - 2.00 : Bible Reading

  • 2.00 - 2.15 : Prayer 5

  • 10 2.15 - 2.30 : Waiting before God.

  • 11 2.30 - 2.45 : Prayer 6

  • 12 2.45 - 3.00 : Conclusion and thanksgiving.

Comments (1)

Rated 5 out of 5 based on 1 voters
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J'ai compris Seigneur ce que tu voulais m'enseigner au travers de ce message de ton serviteur: Ceux qui t'aiment passent du temps dans ta présence.
Je vais passer de plus en plus de temps dans ta présence, me rétirer de la présence des hommes...

J'ai compris Seigneur ce que tu voulais m'enseigner au travers de ce message de ton serviteur: Ceux qui t'aiment passent du temps dans ta présence.
Je vais passer de plus en plus de temps dans ta présence, me rétirer de la présence des hommes pour être seul avec toi pendant des heures et des jours entiers.

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Paulin Fokam
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