One of the things that readers asked for when I have my survey a few weeks back was tips for how to get into the routine of spending time with God. Today I thought I'd share what has worked for me as well as how it's changed my life.
First off, rewind to almost a year ago. Brian and I we going to church, had Christian friends, were a part of a small group at church, we by the world's standards "living a good, moral life." In the midst of this I was pretty self-absorbed and not always feeling the most patient or like the best wife. Something was missing. I had known for a long time that daily time with God made difference in my life, and it was something I did for years prior to Grant being born. However, once he was born, it quit being a routine. Getting back into the routine wasn't easy at first, but it's been totally worth it!
Step 1: Find a time of day that works for you. Last summer, that meant Grant's nap time. Once he was in his room, I'd began my devotions. Once school started I no longer had naptime as an option, so I began to get up early while everyone else was still asleep and do my devotions then. We each have chunks of time available in our day, it's just a matter of figuring out what time works best for you. Set aside a minimum of a half hour or so, you don't want to feel rushed, once you've figured out the time. Maybe for you evening would be the best time or maybe you take a lunch break alone, and doing your devotions while you eat would work best. I lied to myself saying that I just didn't have the time, when really, I just wasn't wanting to make time; the time was already there.
Step 2: Get comfortable. Since I do my devotions in the morning I'm snuggled up on the couch with my coffee and breakfast. I have my ipad on my lap (that's where my devotional is) and my Bible next to me.
Step 3: Find a devotional that works for you and invest in a study Bible. There are a ton of resources out there for devotionals. A few free online ones I love are She Reads Truth and Proverbs 31 Ministries. Another option is to Google Christian book stores in your area. Most larger communities will have at least one and even places like Barnes and Noble have a Christian devotional section. The great thing about Christian books stores is they have have devotionals separated by topic. If you feel like you want to focus on marriage, parenting, or body image, your Christian book store will have you covered!
As for Bibles, you might not have one. Here's an online Bible for free. You can even choose which version you want to read. Brian and I love the ESV (English Standard Version). Also, pretty much every church will let you take the pew Bible home with you for free. The idea of going into a church and asking might seem daunting, but God has your back, and just because you ask for a Bible from there doesn't mean you need to give the church your name or life story. I promise. If you want to invest in a study bible. Brian and I got ESV Study Bibles a few years back and they are great. Every verse have backgound listed in footnotes at the bottom of the page, as well other verses to reference.
Step 4: Dig In! You've planned a time, you're cozy, and you have your Bible and devotional. Now it's time learn something new and let God speak to you. I often times start with a short prayer asking God to reveal to me what he want's me to see.
Then, I start reading my devotional and use my Bible to look up verses or the footnotes to help me better understand the verses I've read. Depending upon the verses you read, this can take awhile. I've also started to try to read the verses before and after the chosen ones in the devotional so I can understand the context of what was being said.
Once I've read and done the devotional I usually end with prayer. I say mine, but some people like to write their prayers, as to stay focused. Prayer isn't something that needs to last for a certain amount of time, but I pray about what I've read as well as praying for anything I'm struggling with and then I pray for others. I also have a tendency to text people verses or share that I'm thinking about them, or to ask how things are. If someone is on my heart, I want them to know.
Another option after prayer is to journal about what you read to make notes or process what God is telling you. I used to do this daily, but my prayers functioning that way for me now.
Step 5: Make it a habit. Realize it takes something like 21 days to create a habit. When we are used to doing something one way for so long, change can be hard! I promise you, getting up at 5:45 was not something I was super excited about at first, but now I look forward to it. The time is my own, everyone else is asleep and I can spend time with God uninterrupted. I recently had someone say "No one walks out of the gym after exercising and says, man, I wish I hadn't done that." The same thing goes for spending time with God. Just like exercising makes your body healthy, time with God makes your soul healthy!
Since starting this again last summer I feel like each part of my life has gotten better. I'm more at peace, more able to handle things that come my way, and in times of need I've been turning to God first, not using him as a last resort. Life is better when I make my relationship with God a focus.