Jesus often would withdraw to the lonely places to pray to his father in solitude. This kind of prayer often preceded big moments in his mission – beginning public ministry, the bread of life discourse, his passion… When people were clamoring for Jesus, the Spirit led him to places like the top of a mountain or by a lake or in the desert. I don’t know about you but it is not often I can take some time alone in any of those places. For a busy parent the only place of solitude can seem to be the bathroom and a locked door is necessary even for that. Surely more is needed! There are many creative ways to find this needed prayer and retreat with our father but additionally, I have found that the Spirit guides me to a retreat in the middle of the night. Have you ever been woken by something in the middle of the night only to lie awake for hours? Usually very irksome but if I participate in this opportunity with love and a joyful expectation of meeting God, the silence of sleeplessness nights is more restorative than sleep itself. Perhaps this is God’s fatherly conversation before something important, even if that is just the mundane but eternally important mission of loving our children well.