I have this smart phone that goes dark every few seconds. I know this feature saves the battery but it drives me nuts. Every time I want to use the phone I have to wake it up and put in a code. It is compulsive, and a bit crazy, but I will poke it to keep it alive just so I don’t have to do the “extra step” of putting in the code. Since I never know when I might need to read a message or check a calendar I find myself tapping the thing constantly to keep it active and at the ready.
Wow. That’s just like my faith. I mean I want my faith to be “on” all the time. I never know when I might need to rely on it. At any moment there might be a family or financial crisis that requires me to lean into my faith. No time to wake it up or remember a code. So to keep my faith active and at the ready I have established a few habits.
Quiet Time Several years ago I realized that I could “hear” God the loudest when my world was the quietest. At the time, my world was the quietest in the morning before the kids got up to go to school. I developed the habit of getting up an hour before everybody else to have time for devotions and meditation. Now that the kids are away at college I could pick anytime of the day but I like having morning coffee with God so I have kept it that way. I have found that I can’t rush this time. I don’t finish reading a devo for the day and then hit the shower. I spend time with my eyes closed just listening. Most of us have heard Psalm 46:10 repeated “Be still and know that I am your God”, but you should also remember Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” [emphasis mine]. Spending time with the Lord should not be a checkbox on your daily To-Do list. Relax and consider what an awesome privilege it is to be alone with the creator of the universe.
Prayer My wife models a fantastic prayer life for me and for that I am truly grateful. She understands that prayer is a privilege gifted to us at great cost. Prayer is direct communication with God and many people only think of it as their opportunity to tell God what they want. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since they may want health for a child, or they may want wisdom in a situation. But I believe that it is important to pray for what God wants for me. Often my prayers are requests for God to reveal what I am to learn, or how I can become more dependent on Him.
I heard a fellow in a men’s group say he couldn’t find time for prayer because there were too many interruptions. I wondered if he ever spent time sitting in a drive-thru line, or waiting in a dentist office. Ephesians 6:18 tell us to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. I take that to mean that I can pray anytime and anyplace. So I pray while I am standing in a line. I pray while I am driving. I pray while on hold.
In any case prayer is a way to strengthen our relationship with God. Think about it. The people you are the closest to; the people you trust the most, are the people you talk to the most. The same is true with God. The more time you spend communicating with God the deeper your relationship will be.
Reading I stick with two types of reading. First I read books about Christianity. This is everything from easy reads like Purpose Driven Life to heavier reading such as text books on theology and church history. I find these types of books to be entertaining (yes even the text books) while still revealing insight or context that is useful. The other type of reading is the Bible itself. I must admit that I am not as consistent in my Bible reading as I should be. I tend to jump from one book to the other looking for guidance or answers. The reason I do this is to apply parts of scripture to what is happening in my life. I know there is a risk of taking something out of context so I try to be careful about that. Reading has certainly added to my spiritual growth and understanding.
Group Worship I can’t think of anything that will energize my spiritual life faster than regularly worshipping with a body of believers. More than once I have felt distant from God and didn’t see a way back. Then I attend church, or a Bible study, or meet with a small group and I am back in gear and spiritually fortified. A word of caution here. Relying solely on one type of group worship is like dieting without exercise. You may feel great but you won’t build any spiritual muscle. If all you do is warm a seat on Sunday morning you will soon hit a spiritual plateau. Likewise, If I never show up in small group or attend a study I would be missing a whole buffet of insight and experience from other believers that can push me to another level. I think a well-rounded spiritual diet is best.
That’s the core of what I do to keep my faith awake and at the ready. I have found that it takes a combination of habits to keep me spiritually balanced and energized. While tapping the screen of your smart phone will diminish its energy, tapping into a group of spiritual habits will certainly increase the energy of your faith life.
Happy New Year