First, a few thoughts:
- Make the commitment to doing this daily. When we commit to go to work, we go to work. When we commit to pick someone up, we do it. Sometimes with spiritual things, we don’t treat commitment in the same way. Just do it. Commit at first to 15 minutes. This will likely grow over time.
- Two essential components to include are Bible reading and prayer.
- More than “what I want to say to God”, seeking to discern “what God wants to say to me" should be our focus. The former is important and should always be included, but the latter should receive the greater emphasis.
- So, be real, do you really hear God? Not audibly. I primarily hear Him through reading Scripture. As well, I think about my life, people, challenges, crises, unexpected blessings, dreams – just about anything – and I ask God questions like:
- How are you loving me in this?
- Where is the evidence of your work?
- Where do I need to confess sin?
- What does a new beginning look like for me?
- What do you want me to know?
Then there is the most common question I ask:
- Who am I? To which I always hear God’s reply from
- Ephesians 5:1 – “You are my dearly loved child.”
The Lord’s Prayer
For twenty-five years, the Lord’s Prayer has often been the path I’ve followed in communicating with our Father. Like others through the centuries, I will say a phrase and then meditate on its meaning. Often God meets me there and visits with some grace. I have more thoroughly taught on this a couple of times so here will just offer a couple of examples of the “types of grace” that accompany praying in this way.
First example: “Our Father.” I remember this foundational truth of identity. Jesus puts this up front because He wants us to know, before anything else, Who God is and who we are. I remember that there truly is no such thing as individual prayer. We are a part of the marvelous, mysterious body of Christ. God is truly my Father, but more importantly He is our Father. While writing this, I recognize that I am praying. Our Father reminds me that my other identities are great: husband, dad, pastor, friend etc. My most true identity is as His son. I thank God for being my Father: for making me His, for His kind love.
Second example: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I remember that God is bringing His Kingdom. This always encourages me. At this point I usually begin to pray for people and situations, asking God to have His way.
Like most, there are times when because of personal pain or stress, it is difficult for me to pray. In those times, the Spirit uses the Lord’s Prayer to bring me into the Father’s presence.
Reflecting on Scripture for Meaning in My Life
We are in a fast pace world. If we are not intentional about developing healthy rhythms, chances are that other less formative rhythms will take over (surfing the internet, watching TV, etc). Another important rhythm that we highly recommend is getting into Scripture daily. The Willow Creek association did an extensive study that measures people's spiritual growth over time (Hawkins & Parkinson, Move, 2011). The single most important factor that facilitates spiritual growth is the person's rhythm of reflecting on Scripture regularly. What is really interesting about this finding is that a person does grow spiritually if one has a habit of reading the Bible regularly. But those who grow the most are those who not only read but "reflect on Scripture for meaning in my life".
There are many ways to reflect on the Bible on a daily basis. Here at FCC, we recommend a Bible Reading App called the YouVersion Bible. You can have the app read Scripture aloud to you during your commute, you can read it when you are on break at work, you can just go online and read a passage each morning. The app also offers hundreds of Bible Reading Plans that can help you form this rhythm of reflecting on Scripture. In the summer, a group of 40 FCCers tested one of these plans (The Weekly Theme) together on their computers or on their mobile phones. We have received very positive feedbacks from folks and wanted to encourage you to join this group. Follow the instructions here and get started.
PS. Pastor Rick Warren wrote an article on spending time alone with God. It’s worth checking out.