This is the first in a three-post series on the topic of “Maintaining Consistency in your Time Alone with God”. Many thanks to my author/friend who wrote this (the author asked to remain anonymous…). She wrote:
Nick asked me to write a practical post on deepening your intimacy with the Lord through consistency of a quiet time with Him. I’ve been somewhat hesitant, due to the prevalence of legalism in the church today and having fought the fight of legalism in my own faith, thus I fear that practical tips can give way to legalism. So, to preface this post, I’ll give the disclaimer that I don’t want this to be taken as “must-do”s, but as things that can be helpful if one has the desire to walk closer with the Lord.
This first post is actually not going to be so practical, because honestly I believe most of our problems with spending time with the Lord come from our mindset. We all are given the same amount of time in a day; we choose how to spend it. We do the things that are most important to us. If we aren’t spending time with the Lord, it’s likely that it’s because we don’t fully grasp the importance of it.
One way I like to look at my daily time with the Lord is like a meal – like breakfast.
Matthew 4:4 (NLT) says, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Even if we do not always have daily lives that reflect this, the truth is we NEED God’s Word. We need it like we need food. We should be feeding on it daily.
Now, I’m a big fan of breakfast, but I know not everybody is, so just go with me here. I know a lot of people who tell me they don’t eat breakfast because they aren’t hungry in the morning. Truthfully, most days, I don’t feel hungry first thing in the morning either. But the word breakfast literally means ‘to break a fast’. I’ve been not eating for at least 8 hours (hopefully!), so when I wake up, it’s time to eat!
Regardless of whether or not I feel hungry, the reality is that my body is hungry, and I need to ‘break’ my overnight ‘fast’ – I need to eat!
Same thing with God’s Word – I don’t always feel empty. I don’t always have this yearning like I’ve been missing Him or ‘fasting’ from His Word. But the reality is that I am. And the way I can know it’s true is that if I go without breakfast, more times than not, I’m going to be grumpy later in the day, and I’ll probably snap at someone! It’s like that with God – why should we wait until our sin nature rears it’s ugly head to go to God’s Word? I don’t need God’s Word because it’s my salvation, I’ve already been justified by God’s grace alone. I need God’s Word for my sanctification.
My other image (this may lose some of you…) of spending consistent time with God is like exercising / working out. I actually love to work out! It’s fun for me, and I love how it makes me feel.
Even though I know that exercise is good for me and that I love how it makes me feel, I don’t always want to do it. Sometimes I have a headache, or I’m just having a bad or lazy day. Fortunately, part of my job is to work out, so I’m not given the choice to be exempt from exercising – I just have to do it.
And honestly, I’d say that 95% of the time, when I work out when I don’t want to, halfway through the work out, I start feeling better, or I am so glad I did afterwards. (And the other 5%, even if I left feeling like crap, I know that it was a lot better for my body than sitting on the couch for an hour!).
It’s the same with our time with the Lord, you don’t always feel like doing it, but more times than not, if we just make the time to spend with Him, we are going to be thankful that we did, because God’s Word is living and active and it will speak to us if we let it. Even when we don’t want to spend time with the Lord, we wish we did want to. But we aren’t going to fuel that desire by staying away from Him. “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8)
In the next post in this series, I will talk about two practical tips for maintaining consistency in your time alone with God.