Signs of the Times

[E. L. Allen, M.A., Ph.D.,, in the Christian World Pulpit, London, England]

I want, in all seriousness, to ask each man and woman here to go out into the solitary places and meet with God. Do not think it is just a question of saving your soul. It is not; it is a great work which you can do for the world. . . .

We all of us need to leave a greater measure of privacy in our lives than we allow at present. We tend to become like those streams which are so shallow that any passer-by can see right to the bottom; and what wonder is it that they cannot carry even a rowboat? You are husband and wife; you tell me that your understanding is complete, that you have all things in common. Yes, but does each one of you leave the other some time in the twenty-four hours, just to make his or her own solitary reckoning with God? You are a parent and feel your responsibilities. You are teaching your child to pray. Yes, but how? Do you give him the sense that prayer is something so sacred that even you do not dare to obtrude upon it, that you take off your shoes, because it is holy ground? Is his prayer just a nightly exercise performed for your satisfaction, or do you, from the earliest possible moment, give him the solemn but joyful opportunity of being alone with God? "Religion is what a man does with his own solitude." We are back again at that. The surest test of what a man is like is what he turns out to be when he is left alone. What are you like when you are alone? Do you get nervy and jumpy, looking frantically round for something, however trivial, to stop this awful gap which threatens to become a chasm and swallow you down? Or do you find something in you that cries, "I am alone, yet not alone, for the Father is with me"?

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May 9, 1931

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