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Spiritual Direction #5



The monastery of San Marco, in Florence, Italy, is one of my wife’s favourite places. Apart from its historical significance and exceptional beauty, it is a place of intense spirituality.

The walls of the monks’ cells, which are decorated with frescos by the fifteenth century painter Fra Angelico, seem to have absorbed centuries of prayer.

One of the paintings depicts Jesus triumphantly breaking down the gates of hell to rescue sinners; a demon is crushed beneath the broken doors.

The artist clearly understood the wrestle of prayer which took place within the cells. For years, monks have closed these natural doors and through intercession, opened supernatural ones.

When Jesus instructed us to “…close the door and pray…”  (Matthew 6:6), He was teaching us the power and necessity of solitude. However, it is a counterintuitive command. We tend to avoid solitude because the tormented Gadarene was driven to “…solitary places…” (Luke 8:29), yet it is often in these same solitary places that our victory is grasped.

The Bible says, “…Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed…” (Mark 1:35). This wasn’t just His practice; He was teaching us a principle.

Do you purposely seek solitude to seek God?

Do you close a door to open doors?

Do you wrestle in prayer to discover a victory already won?


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