Sunday, February 9, 2014

More Than One Way to Do Jesus-Time

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s just one more way for me to set myself up to feel like a failure.  (I have a following-through problem.)  But it happened to be around the first of the year, that I was looking for a daily devotional that was basically Bible readings.  I found one that I like and I’ve been reading it and feeling good about how it’s going. So far I'm following through.  

Yesterday Mom said, “Don’t feel guilty about that.  You have enough things to feel guilty about.”
She wasn’t talking about New Year’s Resolutions, but she might as well have been.  Such good advice.  Push aside the guilt and just do what you need to do.  

Let’s take that attitude and approach a topic that inspires lots of guilt -
quiet time with your Maker.
Ugh. The phrase quiet time makes me want to curl into a little ball and give up as soon as I hear it.  I hope you have carved out “quiet time” for yourself, but in my world it has always been a challenge.  

First of all, rarely is anything around here quiet.  
Second, it brings up visions of a quiet woman who gets up at 5:30 in the morning, in her perfectly clean house, with her perfectly clean heart, and sits down with the Lord.  
I like that last part, but the rest of it is something that I just CANNOT relate to.  I am NOT a morning person.  My house is rarely perfect.  And my quiet time is rarely quiet.  

Over and over again, I have struggled with what my daily time with God is supposed to look like, and most of the time I feel like I’m botching it. 

However, over the past 5 years I’ve learned that there really is more than one way to do things.  Not only have I learned this, I’ve embraced it and I celebrate it.  This is a great truth for me because... 

1) ...changing things up is fun for me.   Growing up I was rearranging my room every 6 months.  Today the wallpaper on my phone is rarely the same for more than 30 days.  I like to do something different in my house when the seasons change.  I like a good routine, and I have my comfort foods, but a fresh view makes me happy. 

2) ideas pull me in.  A new book comes out about marriage - I want to read it.  I’m always perusing the web for new blogs and authors.  The latest technology, a new approach to organizing, a social media trend - I’m curious.  I might not embrace it, but I’m checking it out.

3) …I’m an extrovert.  If you’ve had a conversation with an extrovert recently, you may have noticed that the conversation wants to jump around a lot.  This is how we are and I’m not going to apologize for it.  Well, maybe sometimes, because it really is frustrating for my husband (just to name one person).  But we like to jump from one thing to another.  Turns out that's the way my brain is wired.  It’s ok. 

So every 6 months when I want to a new approach to daily devotional time, I’m not surprised anymore.  I’m fine with it.  That book I got? - not going anywhere!  Will still be here when I need something new in 6 months.  The gratitude journal I started? - still very useful next year when I’m not as crabby as I am today.  Yes, I know, this is related to that thing I said at the beginning about how I’m not good at following through.  But seriously, pick your battles.  If this month I have a fresh approach to spending time with Jesus, it’s ok.  He’s fine with it.  It’s way better than giving up completely. 

So here’s what I’m doing these days.  And I like it.  
I’m reading the NIV Once A Day Bible.  It’s set up to read some Old Testament, some New Testament, and a selection from Psalms or Proverbs each day. 
[Confession: Sometimes it takes 2 days to get thru one day’s worth.  Guess what? That’s ok.] 

After I read (and sometimes it’s hours later depending on how interrupted I’ve been by all the people I love in my life), I do prayer.  Grant-it, I’m praying informally to God much more than this thru the day.  But the thing that was really missing in my last ritual, was formal prayer time.  I’ve decided FOR ME what works well, is written prayer.  Especially writing out the parts that I am too lax about - namely confession and adoration.  This formal prayer time is hard for me to get into the habit of (and the problem is laziness, no-question), but here’s what I’m working to do DAILY. 

In a notebook I’ve deemed the Prayer Journal,  

I’ve written out this little outline.

So first off, I want to be sure and recognize that Holy Scripture is the place where God DEFINITELY meets us (this is a great daily reminder).  Then from there, I make 4 stops.  
Here’s a little more explanation:

a) Thank you for showing me...
This is called Adoration.  Right away I want to identify something about God that has been revealed to us in scripture.  Something like ‘God is FAITHFUL when we aren’t,’ or ‘the Pharisees and I have way too much in common.’  A fact that came out of the Scripture I read that day. 

b) I praise you for...
Keeping the focus on HIM, b) is where I celebrate some answered prayers or surprising gifts.
Thank you God, none of our children climbed into our bed in the middle of the night! 
I praise you that my friend had her last radiation today! Thank you God! You are good!!  

c) Please Lord forgive me... 
Confession time.  I try to be specific. Sometimes I’m like a deer in the headlights.  In this case, it’s good to think about the jobs God has called me to and then consider how I’m doing (jobs like Parent, Wife, Friend, etc.).  Another way to recognize what we need to confess about, is to meditate on the Ten Commandments for about 2 minutes; shouldn’t take much longer than that to stumble onto some sin.  
[Note to self: Luther says, “Don’t torture yourself.”] 
CONFESSION and recognizing forgiveness, i.e. God's MERCY, are both super important.    

d) Please, Lord, hear my cry...
Coming to God with all my burdens and petitions.  I like starting it out “Please Lord hear my cry,” because King David is a great example of how to come before God the Father and plead for help, and that’s the kind of thing he says.   

If you don’t want to write these things down, that’s probably fine.  Since writing helps me process things, that what I do.  On the other hand, I’ve been told that writing them down is neat because then you can go back and see what God is doing in your life and that’s useful.  Either way, the vital thing is that we meet God in prayer daily - somehow, somewhere.  

If you have to come up with a fresh approach to that every few months, that’s ok.  There is more than one way to do things.  

What’s your one-on-one time with Jesus like?


  1. I hope others will weigh in on this too, because it is important, but also a very personal and individual thing.
    I've done a number of things as well. Some people do the read through the Bible in a year approach, but I have not found that to be a helpful approach to me.
    My two main approaches at the present time are (1)to use the "Treasury of Daily Prayer" that is based on the daily lectionary that is in Lutheran Service Book and (2) a wonderful devotional called "To Live With Christ" that has a section of Scripture followed by a devotion and prayer.
    As a pastor, these are things that I do for myself. I spend a lot of other time in Scripture too, but generally that is for me to preach or teach to others. However that study is not a substitute for daily devotions and time with God.

    1. I know I've read that as a writer or speaker it's easy to spend time in the scripture preparing for the next message, but easy to neglect daily devotions just for YOU. I can tell when my time in scripture has been only for working on something, and not just for my own spiritual health!
      I would love to hear other people's approaches!


Thanks for joining the conversation!