Do you begin your day with God?
If you can’t say yes to that simple question, you can’t affirm you are “walking with God,” which happens to be the greatest honor imaginable. Jesus, who had all power, would rise up before daybreak to commune with His Heavenly Father. Can we do any less?
D.L. Moody, who founded The Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute, was a great evangelist, but also a humble man who sought God with all of his heart. Read his words on daily time with God carefully: “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.”
I’ve heard all the excuses not to have a daily private meeting with God: “I don’t have time,” or, “I don’t know how to make the experience a meaningful God-encounter,” or “I don’t see how it’s relevant to my daily life.” Many people tell me they’ve tried, but gave up out of boredom.
Beginning today, you can embark on a meaningful journey of daily God-encounters by developing a regular time with God that is never boring and never “just praying the same old thing, in the same old way,” as one Christian put it. Imagine reading the Bible anticipating a word from God; imagine praying something different for yourself and those you love every day without repeating yourself!
Below, I’ll tell you the “tried and true” methods I’ve used for years, and outline a method of praying I learned at a conference years ago that changed my devotional life. It will change yours!
I still battle the same things you do—laziness, disinterest, and the temptation to skip my time with God. Jesus promised a special blessing to those who meet with Him secretly “in the closet,” so we can expect that the devil will do all within his power to derail our well-intentioned plans. But—and this is what I covet for you—I do have a method that lifts me out of the routine and gives me a sense of fulfillment knowing I have met with God at the beginning of the day. Getting started is difficult, but if you practice the “Divine Presence” every morning for say, 30 days, it will become a needed part of your day for the rest of your life.
If you are not having regular devotions, be sure to read this how-to information very carefully. If you already have a regular time of meeting with God, I pray that the ideas I suggest will strengthen your daily walk with Him.
Here are my “tried and true” steps to create an exciting, meaningful daily devotional time. I pray my approach will help you in your desire to “walk with God.”
One: Set aside time in the morning
Although I as a pastor can pray and study the Bible later in the day, I’ve discovered that if I don’t begin the day with God, my schedule (and the devil!!!) will see to it that I don’t have any exclusive time reserved just for Him. So, if you are not already having this “quiet time” you will have to get out of bed 15-30 minutes earlier than usual, but don’t be distressed, God will make up the lost time for you. Really, He will!
Two: Pray before you get out of bed
I have a habit of praying a short prayer soon after I awaken. I say, “Today Lord, glorify yourself at my expense.” And then I add a short prayer affirming that I intend to “walk in the Spirit” throughout the day, in total dependence on Him.
Three: Read a chapter of the Bible
Yes, it is OK if you begin with passages that are familiar and then graduate to those that are more obscure. Always answer these three questions: first, what does this passage teach me about God? Second, is there a promise I must believe? And finally, is there a command I must obey? When you close your Bible, you should have at least one clear idea that you can carry with you all day. This is what the Bible calls “meditation,” which is accompanied by much blessing (read Psalm 1 if you need to be convinced!).
Four: Pray Scripture
This is the most revolutionary and most meaningful of all of the ideas I’ve learned. Before I was introduced to praying Scripture, I would pray predictable prayers, “God bless…” It was boring, repetitive, and frankly, quite meaningless. But praying Scripture means that you never have to pray the “same old thing in the same old way” again.
Here is how to begin: Choose a familiar passage, perhaps Psalm 23. Now pray the Psalm inserting your name or the name of a family member. “Lord I pray today that Susan might delight to be your sheep and to want nothing as much as she desires you. Thank you that you provide for her; keep her from fear and lead her in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake…” etc.
Space forbids many more examples, but after you have prayed some of the Psalms, graduate to the prayers in the epistles of Paul (e.g. Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-14, etc.) and pray these prayers for your children or grandchildren. Then, you will also be able to pray the rest of Paul’s writings; indeed, almost any passage can be turned into a prayer. For example, spend a few weeks praying Ephesians chapters 4-6 for your family and church. You will discover that the Holy Spirit will guide you to interpret these passages as prayers that are perfectly in line with God’s will.
Remember that our first task is to have delight in God’s presence. But that can’t be done in a day or two; it can only be developed by a daily walk with God. Begin to meet with Him today and you will be grateful you did in the days to come. You’ll discover that when you begin with God in the morning, you are conscious of His presence throughout the whole day. And, what could possibly be better than that?
Perhaps there is no more poignant picture of Christ as when He took the basin and the towel to wash His disciples’ feet. He wanted them to know that the way to greatness was through the pathway of service.All Sermons by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer