Four Ways To Start Looking To God Each Day

None of us ever have enough time to get done what we would really like to do or at least that is what we tell ourselves.  Mark Shead notes at least 17 things you should stop doing to help free up time or redeem time.  All the time we free up for more important things still manages to disappear somewhere into the void.

Having been in full-time ministry now for 16 years, I've had this one question asked regularly of me and the emphasis is usually as follows:

"How do you have a 'quiet-time/devotional time' everyday?  I don't have any TIME!"

Time noted a few years ago how we use all our time.  The New York Times put together this great little interactive graphic to see are time usage each day.  If you don't care about it, you're not going to put time into it.  If you don't make time do it, then it isn't going to get done.  By all accounts, the most important thing in our lives is the screen in front of you right now or the one in your living room, bedroom, den, kitchen, mini-van backseat or in your hand.

So the answer to the question of time for a devotional time?  Make it.  Only you can.  If you are going to make God connections, you have to start by being intentional about looking to God at some point in your day.

When preacher John Termbath sent his letter to John Wesley saying he was "withering," Wesley's response was emphatic,
O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first, will afterwards be pleasant. Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily.  (The Letters of John Wesley, Vol 4. 103)
In his book, Prayer & Devotional Life of United Methodists, Dr Steve Harper notes that in his studies of over 30 years regarding the spiritual life of saints and followers of Jesus, they included, "...stated periods and acts of formation in the midst of a total life devoted to God (pg42)."  But as monk Thomas Merton noted, "Most of us, unfortunately, are not ready to lay down our lives in martyrdom most days at six o'clock in the morning or whenever our mental prayer may occur...(pg. 90, Spiritual Direction & Meditation)

I recommend four things:

1.  Find a guide or devotional YOU will use.
There are so many devotional and guides available for us these days.  DO an online search or walk through any Christian bookstore (you might consider this one or this one).  DO listen to other people's recommendations BUT DON'T just pick something because someone else recommends it - use what you know you will use.  From my experience, it should have at least three things:
    1) Scripture reading.
    2) Guided thoughts toward God.
    3) Prayer guide.

2.  Set aside the time that works for YOU.
Morning, lunch time, mid-afternoon or right before bed.  It doesn't make much difference BUT pick the time which works best for you to hang out with God.  This is your time with God, not mine or anyone elses.

3.  Pick a time amount that works for YOU.
We're talking about starting here!  You wouldn't start training to run a marathon by trying to run one on the first day.  DON'T start by saying you're going to have an hour with God.  If it turns out that way, great, but be realistic.  A five-minute meditation and prayer is a GREAT start!

4.  Stop and change if it doesn't work for YOU.
If after a few days, you don't get a sense of God's presence, you don't find yourself more connected to God in your day, put your chosen material down and try something else.  DON'T feel like you're stuck with any devotional - it isn't about reading all the way through.  Again it is YOUR connection to God each day.

BONUS IDEA.  Have a notebook nearby each time.
Make notes when you see God make connections.  Whatever comes to your mind or heart, write it down.

May I Ask?  What other things or distractions might get in your way rather than time?  How have you dealt with them in the past when it wasn't a devotional time?
May I Suggest?  Start with using an online devotional that is free (I shared two in item number 1).  Also, try your local public library for other books.

NEXT UP...learning to look for God throughout your day.

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