Updated: Jul 5, 2022
My friend Kelsie and I were catching up yesterday on life. She is the type of friend who is patient enough to let me cry when I desperately need it, brave enough to try the frozen goat cheese and beet sauce pizza with me, honest enough to share her heart and what God is doing in her life. Often, when I catch up with friends like Kelsie (the "how are you doing- truly" kind of conversations), I find that God is working and moving in similar ways. Iron sharpens iron!
We both talked about the importance of reading God's Word and prayer.
We noted how we can tell the difference in our attitude and outlook on the day when spending time with the Lord has not been a priority. We agreed it is easy to dismiss these spiritual practices daily for various reasons-
Because we find it boring
Because it is hard to focus when we read
Because we don't have time
Or, a belief I held for a long time-
Because we don't take joy in it, and don't want to read the Bible or pray with an impure heart. (I eventually discovered that it is God who softens and changes my heart- I did not have to wait until I had "arrived" at some level of head and heart understanding to spend time with the Lord. He would do the remaking.)
Our conversation got me thinking and remembering how God has aided me over the years.
May I implore to you that being faithful in prayer and in reading the Bible is life-giving?
The written Word of God is riveting. It motivates change. It impresses a disposition of worshipful living. It evokes all of the "Amen's" and "ouch's" lips could ever speak.
And it it is oh so good.
Still, there are days that time is pinched, we are stressed, and fitting time with God into our busy schedules seems impossible.
God doesn't need to fit in your life. He is already present. You don't need to rework your schedule. You need to reshape your perspective. You don't need to conform to a legalistic ritual, you need to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Referencing Romans 12:2- see what I did there? ;))
It changed everything for me when I realized that time with God is not a "start and stop" activity. I joke when praying with others, "You dial and I'll hang up." But truly, there is no "hanging up." Amen means "let it be so"- entrusting God to hear our prayers and answer according to His righteousness- NOT "talk to you later" or "bye." He never leaves. Why should we act or think otherwise?
My freshman year of high school, I discovered the art of the in-between. I had roughly five minutes in between classes, and unless I was actively talking with another student on my route or studying flashcards for an exam, I was speaking silently with God as I walked. Prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, petition, intercession- and in public school, you see a whole lot to intercede for on the daily. I didn't have to "make time"- I just had to discover that it was already there.
My freshman year of college, I got REALLY into putting Bible verses all over everything. There was a shelf above my bed in my dorm- I plastered that property with scripture. "I want the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see before I go to sleep to be scripture," I said to myself. And it was wonderful. (I'm still trying to think of an artful way to put scripture large enough to be legible on the ceiling above my bed in my apartment.)
I found ways to put scripture in places where I could pray it as I went through my day. By my shoes in my closet, I taped Psalm 119:133.
Psalms 119:133 NIV "Direct my footsteps according to your Word; let no sin rule over me."
This reminded me that it is God who ordered my steps. It was a daily plea to help me to be faithful and trust Him as He guides and directs me.
Throughout my teens and the first few years of my 20's, I became super motivated to read through the Bible (very funny story for another day)- all of it. So I did. I wish I could say I was this awesomely routined girl who got up dark and early, made a masterful breakfast and something warm to drink and watercolored scripture in the journaling bible [that I do not possess.] But alas, I am not magazine material when it comes to my "morning routine." I quite prefer the evenings when it comes to deep thinking and reading, and I am not so talented as to multitask drinking coffee with painting beautifully and reading intentionally. I found and was enthralled with this:
1 Peter 2:9-10 Berean Study Bible "But you are a chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
It told me who I used to be, who I am now (because of what Jesus has done for me), and what I was called to do. It was all a grace- nothing above told me I needed to have a rigid morning- only a transformed walk than my life before Christ.
In a Bible study I was in last year, one of my leaders challenged us to memorize this passage:
Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
I learned it and often found it helpful in my interactions with others. It is by grace we are saved. None of us can boast. It helps me to be merciful with others when I understand the mercy God has with me. It constantly has me asking God to help me learn to be humble- to remember that nothing good comes from me, for no one is truly good but God. It encourages me to be obedient to what is set before me.
During the great pandemic of 2020, I was reminded of something I had committed to memory via song many years prior. It strengthened me- take heart!
John 16:33 NIV "I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
I wish I could say that the global crisis was the biggest change for me that year- that when I got off the train that day I would "never have guessed that I could never go back to a simple world where everyone knew the rules of society at any given moment." But to be frank, I was not surprised nor caught off guard. My days had already seen so much trouble and change that I was not bewildered that there was more to come. Yet, I was not discouraged in the slightest- in fact, I saw everything as an exciting challenge. How was God going to use all of this? Somehow, heaven felt nearer, the Gospel much dearer, and things were set rightly in their place of importance. God was sovereign, and life was fragile. It was refreshing.
I could go on and on about how the Word has helped me through my days; how prayer has offered me comfort in knowing that there is a God who hears and knows us, and cares so deeply for us. In short- reading, knowing, and praying the Word has made all of the difference for me. Maybe the few verses I mentioned would be encouraging to you in your day-to-day -- maybe you will search and find scripture on your own that helps you with your season of life. I simply hope that this encourages you- the Word has a place in your every day.