Part 1 of this blog talked about how we can easily make our time with God something that is a checklist item…something we do because we feel like we have to or because we will feel like a failure if we don’t. That is not what God wants. God is more concerned with our heart, life, and devotion than whether or not we do the right rituals and check them off our list each day.
So how do we move beyond spending time reading God’s Word and praying because we feel like we have to or so that we don’t feel like a failure? How do we move it to where we are focused on doing it out of our devotion to God and a desire in our heart, because we want to learn how to live our entire life for him?
Here are a few practical steps that can help us change our thinking and focus when it comes to having a time set aside that is devoted to hearing from God and speaking to God.
1 – Start somewhere – Don’t assume you have to go from struggling to have a consistent devotion time to having the greatest devotion time ever. It takes time to grow and build. Just like any relationship, you start small and grow. So start somewhere. Figure out when and how long you’ll set aside and begin with that. It doesn’t have to be hours long either…start somewhere and be consistent. It will grow over time. And if you miss a day or two, let it go and work to make sure you have it the next day.
2 – Make a plan – Plan when you’ll have your time, what you’ll read, and how you’ll pray. It may seem a bit unnatural at first, but making a plan will help you be consistent. At first you’ll have to work to stick to the plan, but over time it will become natural. Pick a time of the day you know you’ll consistently have the ability to devote some time to reading and praying. Pick a devotional book or book of the Bible to begin reading through, and each day do some reading. Pick up a journal and write down some prayer requests, and when you pray begin praying through those items.
3 – Ask for help – Find a friend or someone you know whom you would consider a strong Follower of Christ, and ask them for help and advice in getting started. Ask them where they suggest you begin reading in the Bible, or what devotional book they would recommend. Ask them to share with you how they go about having their time with God. Let them share with you their struggles and victories as they were developing this time in their life. And allow them to keep you accountable by asking you from time to time how you are doing.
4 – Embrace God’s grace – We are not perfect, never will be. God knows that. Jesus died for us because we aren’t perfect. God’s grace is incredible, and we need to learn to start embracing it and living according to it. That doesn’t mean we intentionally do what is wrong because we presume upon his grace (Romans 6)…but it does mean we stop thinking and acting like we must be perfect or else we are a failure. If you miss a day or two, let it go and just focus on making it a priority the next day.
5 – Realize it’s an all-day thing – Yes, we set aside a time during the day to focus on reading God’s Word and praying. But, that doesn’t mean the rest of the day we don’t think about or focus on God and his Word. No! All day long, think about and pray for what you last read. When a verse pops in your head that you’ve read before, think about it for a moment. If someone or something pops into your head, pray for that real quick. Always be focused on God’s Word and prayer, and you’ll find out it becomes a lot easier to give God your heart, life, and devotion.
6 – Help someone else – As you develop a strong and consistent time devoted to reading God’s Word and praying, and your devotion for God grows in your heart and you seek to live your life for God, begin to help others who are struggling themselves. Give them pointers. Share verses with them that mean a lot to you. Encourage them. Help them…and watch how you continue to grow yourself as you help them as well.
The ultimate reality is that we will devote our time and energy and focus to what we care about. But the hard part is that it’s often not known how to best go about devoting time to read God’s Word and pray. It takes work, especially in the beginning. Like any relationship we value, we have to put the time into it. So make sure to do that.
Follow these steps here, continually pray and ask God to develop in you a love for him and his Word, and it will help you get to the place where it is no longer be about a checklist you must keep so you don’t feel like a failure. Rather, it will become something you love and long for and crave and honestly miss when you don’t have it one day. It will become a part of your life, something your heart desires, and something that you will want to be devoted to.
God wants our heart, life, and devotion. He doesn’t want to just be reduced to a ritual we check off our list.