Much of what we do throughout our day happens because we have created a sense of “routine” in our lives. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m assuming that you eat, sleep, brush your teeth, shower, and change your clothes on a fairly routine basis. Perhaps you even go to bed at the same time most nights only to have your sleep interrupted up by your alarm clock at the same time most mornings. To the coffee drinkers, you wouldn’t even consider starting your day without a cup of Joe. For those of us who are control freaks… we dare anyone to mess with our routine 🙂
When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, I’ve often heard people say that you need to develop the “routine” of reading the bible and praying on a daily basis. I understand the intent behind this thought and agree that we should regularly engage God’s Word and spend time in prayer. However, I also believe we must be careful that we approach our “quiet time with God” in a way that isn’t simply just another routine.
As a teen, I remember sitting in my Sunday School class on a weekly basis and facing the “card of accountability” before class began. It was a card that had everyone’s name on it along with spaces where you could check if you were present, read your Bible daily, prayed daily, gave an offering, etc. Believe it or not, we would actually pass this card around the room and you could see who had done what… Imagine the feelings of pride or shame that surfaced during that time!
While the goal was to encourage me to connect with God, no one asked what I had read or how it was impacting my daily life, so I just assumed the goal was for me to be able to check it off the list. In the end though, I had no one but myself to blame that my time with God was less exciting than the routine of flossing my teeth, which I’m still not good at to this day. If I’m honest, this sense of duty and lack of discipline continued for years with much guilt yet very little success at reading my Bible or praying with any sense of consistency.
Thankfully, since then, God has opened my eyes to how He wants to speak to me through Scripture and prayer, and it has dramatically changed how I approach my quiet time with Him. Building off the UP, IN, and OUT pattern that I wrote about last week (click HERE to read that post), I discovered that if I’m going to be a disciple of Jesus and truly live as He lived, then I must approach the Bible and my prayer time EXPECTING God to challenge me in these areas. Therefore, I can’t just be content with reading the Bible and moving on with my day. I must allow the Holy Spirit to lead me into obedience in these areas.
I developed the guide below to help others seek God through Scripture and prayer in a way that will lead you to live as Jesus lived. Before you look at the guide, here are a three quick thoughts…
- Before I read, I ask God to speak to me through the UP, IN, and OUT filter. After all, Jesus is the Word, so I know He wants to speak to me in this way.
- A great place to begin using this guide is with a book like James. Pick a book of the Bible where you can more easily focus on implementing what you read into your current life and situations… so maybe avoid Leviticus at least for now.
- I truly believe reading less Scripture with more intention to apply is a good thing. I usually read until the Spirit gets my attention.
WARNING: Using this guide will push you out of your comfort zone. It will lead you to confess sin, encourage other people, give of yourself, and walk across the street to meet your neighbors. As you open your heart to the ways of Jesus, you will become less focused on yourself and more focused on the heart of God and other people.
Okay, here’s the guide, which is just that… a guide… Don’t pressure yourself to ask every question each day, but just let it guide you into a deeper understanding and implementation of living as Jesus lived. Don’t hesitate to let me know if I can help you with this. OR… If you try this out and God speaks to you in a fresh way (I know He will) send me an email because I’d love to hear what God is showing you… firstname.lastname@example.org