Photo by KH Rawlings
One of the big challenges in this Simplify Your Life month is how to figure out the big picture: what is it that God is calling you to do?
Next week we're going to go through a journalling process to figure that out, but there's a more important preliminary step, and it's really quite simple. You've got to talk to God.
Really talk to Him.
I struggle with this. Do you? I'm one of those people who believes so strongly in multi-tasking that it's very difficult for me just to sit. I always think I should be folding something, or dusting something, or writing something.
But we can't figure out what our purpose is unless we get in touch with the one who defines that purpose. Often people try to figure out their purpose without reference to God--they look at their talents, and their desires, and they figure that these things together must constitute their purpose. But is there purpose to life if it's solely defined by what you like to do and are good at? That's not purpose; that's just a singular, self-centred life, and the whole reason for a purpose is that it transcends you, and makes you part of a larger plan.
And you can't have a larger plan without a Planner. So we need to get used to talking to God!
When I was a teenager, I took a summer missions trip to the Philippines. It was a difficult time, and I'm not sure I would necessarily recommend the same organization or opportunity for teens today. But one thing that they taught me that was invaluable was to do daily devotions. They gave us checklists so we could keep track of which chapters of the Bible we had read, so that eventually we could see when we had read the whole thing. I kept that checklist in my Bible for 7 years, during which I read through most of the Bible so many times that the checklist wore out.
It taught me organization, diligence, and just a thirst to hear from God everyday.
And then I had kids, and thirst for God fell to the wayside, crowded out by desperation for sleep. And even once the kids were sleeping through the night, I was still so desperate for time for myself that I have found it difficult to maintain the discipline I had as a teen.
I have decided, though, to stop feeling guilty about it and to figure out new ways to hear from God--new ways of doing my devotions that don't require it to be a chore, and that can relieve that thirst again. So here are some ideas, some of which I use, and others which I have used in the past, that may help you to focus again on God and find the time for devotions!
1. Journal, too
If you're a multitasker, like me, you may find it difficult just to read a portion of Scripture, because if you see something interesting, you think, "I should blog about that!", or "I should put that in a Facebook status!". What I've done instead is take a pen and a notebook with me while I read my Bible, and I write down things that strike me, so I can make use of them later. Then, at the end, I write down my prayers. A few months later I can read over and I can often detect a pattern of where God has been taking me.
2. Put a small Bible and a small notebook in your purse.
I spend so much time waiting--waiting for kids, waiting for oil changes, waiting while the car is being filled up, waiting at the doctor's office. Let's use some of that time and read my Bible then! It doesn't mean you don't read it when you have MORE time, but if you honestly are rushed, having a Bible and notebook with you can at least help you to snatch the time that is available!
3. Make it a family event.
We all should be talking to God individually, but if that is becoming difficult, what about reading a chapter together after dinner, and talking about it? Or reading a psalm together with your husband the last thing you do at night?
4. Work through a study
Not sure what to read? Pick up one of those Bible study books at a Christian bookstore that takes you in-depth into a particular book. That helps give some structure to your devotional time if you aren't sure what to read about, pray about, or learn today. It doesn't always help to sit down and then open the Bible at random. If you have something that is taking you systematically through a portion of Scripture, you're likely to learn more!
5. Get the Bible on CD
Why not listen to the Bible in the car while you're driving? If you commute, or spend a lot of time chauffeuring your kids or doing errands, you can always listen to some shorter passages, like the Psalms or the epistles while you're driving. Just hearing little bits of Scripture while you drive can be so helpful! Again, a Christian bookstore will sell CDs of the whole Bible, or you can download some off of the internet.
6. Have "Calls to Prayer"
I have a friend who used a siren, whether it was a police or ambulance or fire engine siren, to remind her to pray. Whenever she heard that sound, she'd pray for the emergency, but then she'd pray for her family, or her church, or her concerns. She lived in a big city, so sirens were quite common, and it caused her to pause throughout the day, at random times, to pray.
What's your random call to prayer? You could use a sound, like a bird's call or a siren, or you could use a task, like folding laundry, or doing the dishes. Whenever you do these things, you pray. You could even pick specific people to pray for--whenever you do the dishes, you pray for your children. Again, it just focused you throughout the day to think about God and talk to God.
7. Incorporate Prayer into Exercise
My mother takes prayer walks every morning. She walks quickly, to get some exercise, but that's also when she prays. Others I know pray on the treadmill, or while they jog. I love praying on walks because I'm out in nature, and that's often when I feel God the most.
8. Play praise CDs constantly
Fill your house with music that praises God--especially music that focuses on Scripture. Fill your car with that, too. Of course, silence is also very necessary at times, but the more we can hear God's word, the more it will impact us, and help us to remember it and hide it in our hearts.
9. Stop feeling guilty, and do what works
Finally, just stop feeling guilty. Many of us feel so guilty that we haven't managed to squeeze God into our day that we don't even try anymore. If you can't do the 30 minutes with God that you used to do when you were young, that's okay. But do what you can do. Snatch what you can. Find what works. And don't be afraid to do a variety of different things. Our devotional time does not have to look like a specific way. It's just finding time during the day to remember God, to concentrate on God, to listen to God, and to meditate on His word.
He wants to talk to us today; He doesn't want us to feel so guilty or so inadequate that we flee. If you're feeling guilty, that's not God's voice. So find something that works for you, and do it. And the more you hear God's voice, the more you'll find yourself feeling peaceful, grounded, and excited about life!
Do you have ideas that help you incorporate devotions into a busy life with kids? Share them in the comments!
Labels: Bible, Christian, devotions, God