The words we use and the stories we listen to, write, and share, are important. What stories do you share with your family and friends, and how do you think they impact your life? Do you get dragged down in the glut of negative news, or do you make a point of secluding yourself from the barrage of media forms present in our modern world? Do you take time out of your day to be away from screens, to sit in stillness? This can be so tough for many of us, especially if we aren’t intentional about it.
We’re urged to spend time away from screens and digital tech for our own health and wellbeing, but as Christians, it’s so important that we create time for God too. How we choose to use our time shows what we value, and is one of the most profound metrics of our true priorities, no matter what we purport to value most. So, when’s the last time you took an hour to sit in quiet prayer? How often do you give God time to speak to you, when you are really, truly listening without distraction? For me, I know that outside of time set aside for church, I am all too easily distracted by my phone, Facebook, or the day’s list of tasks. Heck, even in church, I get distracted!
So, I’m urging myself, just as much as you, to put aside distractions and turn and give God a much more significant place in my daily life. Yes, I’ve done better in the past, and sure, you may find this is something you already commit to and are faithful in, each day, but each of us can reach for more. I seek more of God’s peace in my life, and I want to hear His voice clearly. I’m sure the same is true of you as well. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). These are the sort of verses I must have learned early in Sunday School, the comforting, easy verses that roll off the tongue, but I am struck with how difficult they can be to live out.
I’m reminded of the father of a possessed boy in the Gospel of Mark, who responded to Jesus’ call to belief by crying “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). In a similar manner, I want to spend more time reading God’s Word, and more time in prayer and quiet. But do I do it? Unfortunately, usually not! Lord, I want to honour you more with my time! Please give me the will and the presence of mind to do just that, especially in moments when life is full of distraction! I don’t want to be like those described in Isaiah 29:13, who let their faith turn into ritual, instead of keeping it alive and true: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’”
So, this is all great in theory, but useless if I don’t back it up with actions. I feel like James would agree! (James 2:14-26) The same goes for you. What are some things you can change, to intentionally choose to spend more time with God? I know for myself, I have the opportunity to choose how I spend the time during my drive to work, whether listening to music, the radio, or otherwise. Lately, it’s been the radio that’s been my choice, but I could instead use that time in quiet, and in prayer. Or, of course, intentionally pick worship music. That half hour there and back each day adds up, and it’s a significant chunk of my week that can easily be dictated on the whim of how I’m feeling, rather than a conscious descision to be intentional with that time.
Furthermore, there’s obviously much to be gained from setting aside additional time in your life, to pray and worship. Of course, this can be challenging, and the stereotype of New Year’s resolutions is for half-hearted commitments to drop off after two weeks, or a month or so, but what a horrendous reason not to try! Even today, even a few minutes, the time you give to God is precious, and in my life, I have always found that it is so worth it. If I’m preaching here, it’s at myself!
A few years ago, someone introduced me to The Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald, a writer and minster who was a major inspiration of C. S. Lewis. This diary is a collection of poetic prayers, one for each day of the year. They’re seven lines each, (and in iambic pentameter too, for the word-nerds out there!) and each captures the heartfelt, down to earth conversation that MacDonald has with his Creator. The year I was introduced to this, I took it upon myself to read each day the passage for that day, and ponder it, in addition to my Bible reading. It was fascinating how thought-provoking someone else’s prayers and thoughts about God could inspire me to bring my own heart’s ponderings to God, and keep Him present in my thoughts throughout the day. That being said, of course, scripture is necessary and should be our primary meditation!
I encourage you, start a new commitment, or expand your current habit, in order to let God have more of your time each day or week! I’m going to do the same!
Lord, help me honour you with my time, to quiet my heart and listen to your Holy Spirit. I want to know you more, and to spend time in your presence each day.