I have been asking myself how I am spending my time. Am I being a good steward of the time God has given me? Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord” and Psalm 5:3 encourages,”In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” Therefore, before I begin my day I need to spend time with the Lord, as well as meditate on His word throughout the day. This is an important routine to fill up my tank for the day allowing me to go into my tasks with the right attitude and providing the words to use in spreading the gospel. In my last post I discussed how I am spending the time and abilities God has given me and whether I am using them to the best of my ability. I wanted to devote more time to the topic of daily Bible study as that is essential to all other things.
Daily Devotional Habit
First and foremost comes my time with God. Over the years, I have developed a habit of pulling out my Bible first thing in the morning. I get up with my husband and help him out the door at 6am. Then I sit with my bible, my reading plan, and a cup of coffee. (Also earbuds because I focus sooooo much better when I listen and read it!) For a long time I have felt that I was doing good in this area and I checked it off my list, so to speak, of disciplines that I have got a handle on. But, Paul exhorts us to excel still more (1 Thessalonians 4:1). My typical Bible devotion is usually to read either the M’Cheyne One Year Plan or a chronological plan (this year I am doing Solid Life Whole Bible Reading Plan). These plans have me reading the Bible in a year and have me reading in both the Old Testament and the New Testament at the same time. The act of reading from 2-4 different areas in the Bible helps me make observations and connections I haven’t made before.
However, I am not consistent at Bible journaling, nor do I regularly do a separate Bible study. I underline and write little notes in my Bible, but sometimes I have more to say than what I can write in the margins. And while I love journaling, I’m a wordy person, so writing in a blank page journal is like a 30 minute exercise for me. This means that I usually get lazy and don’t pull it out because “I don’t have time for that.”
However, I have decided that, in order to continue to grow in my relationship with God (2 Peter 3:18), I have to do more than what I already do. So I purchased this simple journal that uses the Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer (SOAP) method. I decided to do this instead of using a blank journal like I have in the past to make the idea of daily journaling feel less intimidating. The fill in the blank pages are one page per day which make me feel like I can briefly write my thoughts without writing a book. 10 minutes of journaling is still journaling! I’m still getting my thoughts on paper without taking up all my time. Also, I have committed to write in the journal daily, which forces me to think and meditate upon what I have read (Joshua 1:8).
In addition to reading and meditating on the Word of God, prayer is an important part of daily spiritual disciplines. Because I lack focus, I can struggle with this aspect at times. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because, despite my best efforts, my thoughts stray to other things. The best way I have found to combat this is to have my Bible open and pray scripture and/or write my prayers in a journal. Again, this is not something I do everyday, but I am striving for excellence in this area. Another favorite way to pray is during my morning walks. After I read my Bible and before my kids get up, I leave the house and walk about 2 miles. The peaceful serenity of the morning makes for a wonderful time of prayer while I get some exercise, Somehow being outside and moving my body helps me concentrate on prayer. I am also looking for other profitable ways to pray during my day. My pastor’s wife tells how she would often pray while doing monotonous daily tasks such as folding laundry or ironing. This is also a good method.
So what’s so important about developing this skill? Why not just do a five minute devotional and be done? 1 Timothy 4:7 says to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” In his book on spiritual disciplines, Donald Whitney compares this to spiritual exercises. “To go to your favorite spot for prayer or journaling, for example, is like going to a gym and using a weight machine. As physical disciplines like this promote strength, so the spiritual disciplines promote godliness.” As we grow in godliness we grow in sanctification, and that is the goal of the Christian life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
New to spiritual disciplines? Not sure what they are or why you should develop them? I suggest the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney as a very readable resource on the subject.