Many Christians struggle with the maintenance of a daily time of devotion, of maintaining that dedicated channel of connection and communication with the Father made possible by the sacrifice of the Son.
Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
Hebrews 10:19 – 22
Is your dedicated and individual channel of connection and communication with God, your Father, maintained and operational? It is basically in your hands – so what are you doing about your personal connection with God? What is holding you back from taking action?
The practical tips set out in the preceding two blogs of setting aside a fixed and regular time and putting measures in place to defend and preserve it will ensure your devotion is established as a daily routine, a discipline that will gradually and eventually become second nature to you. In these same posts we also noted the vital wisdom of starting small and sticking to a schedule or framework of activities for maximum effect and to prevent “burnout”.
All this will of course require a good dose of determination, discipline and diligence all of which are habits all of us can develop.
Experiencing God’s grace in its fullness is only possible when we take matters into our own hands and take the battle to the enemy by refusing to be laid back and passive in our walk with the Lord. Or else we end up being all talk and no walk. This series of posts is about being proactive and taking the initiative to access the grace of God that… appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (Titus 2:11 – 12)
We now turn our attention to the 4 key components that need to be incorporated in our daily time of connecting with the Lord with some additional tips for effectiveness included at the end.
Thanksgiving and worship
Always start with God Himself and your relationship with Him through a time of just giving thanks, confession and repentance from any known sins leading to adoration and worship of God in order to enter into a deeper awareness of His presence. This is a very personal time and encounter with God where you approach Him and His throne of grace with a true heart and in all humility (Hebrews 10:19 – 22). Here you are in a safe place where you can totally be yourself knowing that in Christ you have been wholly and absolutely accepted by God just as you are. This is the place where you are not burdened with any expectation at all but where all expectations of righteousness and holiness have been met and fulfilled by Christ on your behalf. This is your moment of truth – you can be totally open and vulnerable with God like you would with no one else knowing that you are already accepted and beloved in Christ. This your chance to get and grow your intimacy with God – you and God. Along with your opening up to God with your struggles and failures, grow in your appreciation of Him and His attributes by giving thanks and celebrating them. Quietly listening and singing along to selected and appropriate songs of worship in a non-distractive environment is often a simple but powerful tool of getting plugged into worshiping God for ourselves. Use this tool regularly and you’ll find your personal worship life transformed and transforming.
Scripture reading and reflection.
This will not only be a regular and standing feature of your quiet time but will usually occupy the bulk of it. This is the time you permit God to speak to you and you get to know and discover His mind on everything. Here (in Scripture) God has revealed Himself like nowhere else. Scripture represents God’s fool proof and fail-safe revelation of Himself. It is where He has said all that He needs to say that we ought to know.
In John 10:27 the Lord makes such a bold claim, “My sheep hear my voice…” that it beggars belief. We who are His and belong to Him, are the flock of His pasture hear His voice – every single one of us without exception. Remember, this is not the preserve of a select few but the birth right of every child of God. In as much as we have been given the right to childhood and adopted into sonship (John 1:12 – 13 and Ephesians 1:5), friends we are destined to hear His voice. That is our prerogative as children.
And the primary place where we hear His voice to us is scripture. Scripture is the mind of God revealed, exposed, unmasked, opened up, and laid bare. It is His self-revelation. It is God saying to us, “This is who I am, this is what I look like, this is what I think, and this is me.” You want to know what and how God thinks and reasons? Go study scripture. And in understanding who God is and His character we construct a reliable framework for hearing His “rhema” word for us today. From the knowledge of the person and nature of God we construct primarily from scripture, we can work out if something is from Him or not because we now have a personal knowledge of His nature and character as revealed through His own word.
Can we afford to bypass or neglect the regular reading and study of scripture? If we do, we do so at our own peril – Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…. The reading of scripture, however, must be systematic and not random incorporating a time of reflection and/or meditation. Meditating on the word is by no means restricted to our quiet times of devotion but should extend into the rest of the day as we occasionally reflect and reminisce on what has been read during that time.
(For further insight into meditation and its importance as well as how to get started practising it, head to the blog entitled “The Lost art of meditation” in the January 2015 Archives).
We will benefit the most and grow a wholesome knowledge of God and a balanced biblical worldview when our reading is systematic, following a plan that we are sure to carry through to the end. Where the systematic reading and comprehension of scripture on its own is a difficulty for whatever reason, it can be replaced with (and strongly advised) a devotional many of which are available for free. (A word of caution is in order here in selecting a devotional – seek a minister’s or a mature Christian’s advice.)
This is where you quietly reflect on what you’ve ingested in your reading and give your personal response to it. Whether it is an overwhelming and exciting revelation of God’s wonderful nature or something you are being challenged by, whatever it may be you must incorporate a quiet moment where you’ll respond be it with jubilant thanksgiving or contrite repentance. Alternatively, a solemn prayer of petition seeking His grace for the challenge ahead may be more in order.
This is the point in time when we bring before God the various challenges and issues we are faced with in life whatever these may be whether concerning ourselves, our wider families, God’s kingdom or the world in general. Philippians 4:6 commands us …do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. We are not to worry ourselves but bring our requests to God.
These last two components are assisted and made more beneficial by the keeping of a journal. Whatever you learn and however you respond, having a dedicated journal chronicling your daily walk with the Lord where you jot down insights, challenges and lessons you learn as well as record prayer points is very highly recommended indeed whether in response to what you learn during these times or as a result of needs in your life.
These four components then give your daily devotion with the Lord a structure and frame within which you navigate your time. When you don’t institute and establish such a framework, albeit flexible and not too rigid, you will easily fall into the trap of finding your devotion time boring and unfruitful. Keep to these basic four components all the time while staying sensitive to the Spirit’s presence and guidance as you do so. There will be days when your thanksgiving and worship will take over your entire set time while on other occasions you may find that your scripture reading and reflection will be dominant.
If you fail in maintaining this personal channel and connection with God for a day (or two or even more), don’t give up. Do not despair and beat yourself further down but pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start again, continue from where you left. That is the attitude of a disciple of Jesus Christ. The devil uses these occasions to drag and beat us further down by suggesting that we can never do it, we were not cut for it in the first place and that this will not be successful. He was a liar from old and just as you wouldn’t believe a serial liar, so too in this case, do not give ear to His lies and innuendos but stand on the truth of God’s word and press on.
It is my desire that we not only continue to stand in this grace of God that was more than sufficient for the great apostle Paul as He struggled with whatever it was that tormented him, but are immersed in and saturated with it.
Let us ensure that this year will see us accessing more of that grace in our lives too.