In Part 1 of this series we talked about two reasons it’s so difficult to maintain a consistent habit of spending time with God: (1) the breakdown of systems, and (2) the breakout of choices.
In Part 2 of this series we talked about two “time management” assumptions that are in direct conflict with what Christians believe. These two assumptions are reflected in almost every time management tool currently available: (1) Time is mine to fill, and (2) It doesn’t matter what choices I make; what matters is how I manage my choices.
Last week, in Part 3, we agreed that “Talking. Listening. Repeatedly.” is the relationship-building mantra. That is, all relationships are developed through talking and listening, over and over. And we looked at the Connection Planner, the only time management tool I know of that helps people talk and listen repeatedly to God.
This week we’ll talk about applying “Talking. Listening. Repeatedly.” to our relationship with God.
Talking to God
The religious word for talking to God is prayer. It’s an old word that used to mean “ask earnestly, beg,” as in, “I pray thee lend me thy lantern, to see my gelding in the stable” (Gadshill in Shakespeare’s Henry IV). That word probably gets at the heart of what Christian prayer often is: just asking God for things. So I prefer to use the word conversation or talking. Prayer is simply talking to God.
Listening to God
And God talks to us too. Some people have heard an audible voice; some people have had dreams or visions; some receive Godly advice through other Christians. But the most reliable and direct way God talks to us is through the Bible. Reading the Bible is the best way of listening to God.
If you talk to God (prayer) and listen to Him (Bible reading) every day, most Christians call that “daily devotions” or a “devotional habit.” That is, “devotions” is simply spending time with God every day, talking and listening to each other.
Now, devotions are not something we “add to” our relationship with God—this is the relationship! This is how we relate to God!
It took me a while to figure this out. I used to think that praying and reading the Bible were just one more thing on the list of things good Christians do. You go to church, you give to the poor, you teach Sunday School—all that stuff. I used to be so busy at church—serving on committees, singing on praise teams, planning events, brainstorming new programs—that I didn’t have time for devotions. I didn’t have time for “one more” Christian thing.
In other words, I was so busy doing stuff for God that I didn’t have time to talk to God.
I had completely missed the point!
Prayer and Bible reading are not just “one more Christian thing.” They are our very connection to God. If we are not building and fueling and protecting that relationship, we are relying on our own strength or our own moods to fuel all the Christian activity we engage in. And, frankly, our own reserves are not enough to keep us going indefinitely.
Is this true?
Christians, have you found this to be true in your own life? Does your busy-ness at church affect the amount of time you spend in prayer and Bible reading? When someone asks you to pray about something, do you consider it an imposition, or an opportunity? Do you look forward to reading a chapter of the Bible every morning—even when you’re late for work? Even when you’re reading from the book of Leviticus?
I wonder if anyone could post a comment sharing an example of how reading the Bible has made a noticeable difference in:
- How you relate to others
- How effective you are at work
- How refreshed you feel when you wake up in the morning
- How prepared you are to handle questions from people who don’t know God
- The creativity of your approach to a particular challenge
I’m looking for practical examples to justify my claim that Bible reading makes you a better Christian. Anyone have any? Or is Bible-reading too old-fashioned to make a difference in a modern Christian’s life? Or maybe it makes a difference, but not in specific, measurable ways?