Whenever I travel for work, it’s important to stay in contact with my wife. Sometimes when we end up talking I’m at the airport or I’m at dinner or while I’m with coworkers. It’s hard to have good conversations in those places. It’s often noisy, people are trying to get my attention or I’m trying to find where I’m going so I’m somewhat distracted. The best conversations are when I’m away from all the noise in the quiet of my hotel room. Only then can we truly have interruption free conversations where it doesn’t have to be quick snippets.
Luke 5:16 says, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer” (MSG). Having intimate conversations with His father while He was here was important to Him. People were constantly vying for His attention and needing a miracle. Often, He just wanted to have a quiet conversation. Many times He had those quick conversations in front of people, but very often we read where Jesus went to a desolate place to pray. If it was important for Him to do that, how much more important for us?
At one point, Jesus told us to go into our closet to pray. I don’t know that He meant that literally. I think what He was saying was that we need to find a quiet place where we can have some uninterrupted prayer time. We can’t always go to an out of the way place to pray, but we can find space to get alone with Him. It may be a closet or it could be before everyone wakes up or after they go to bed, but we each need to find time to get alone with God so we can have intimate conversations with Him. I believe the quality of our relationship with Him hinges on it.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.
The way to avoid or minimize injury in sports is to do all the right things. The same applies spiritually. One of the things you can do to prevent injury is stretching. When is the last time you stretched yourself spiritually? I’m not talking about a faith pledge financially. I’m talking about stepping out in faith and you really doing something positive for the Kingdom. It could be walking up to a stranger and just telling them, “God wanted me to tell you that He loves you.” It could be fasting for three days with water only to grow closer to God. It could be any number of things that you don’t think you can do for God.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” The same thing applies spiritually. If you don’t stretch yourself and think you can do more than you are right now, you’re right. You will stunt your growth and never do more than what you’re doing today. God wants us to step out of the boat like Peter did. When he saw Jesus walking on the water and asked Jesus to call him out of the boat, I’m sure his mind told him that he couldn’t do it. Thankfully his faith in God told him that he could. Have you asked jesus to call you out of your boat? Which voice are you listening to? Stretch yourself.
So before you begin your in depth training for Godliness you need to be able to do some things first. You need to be able to read God’s Word without interruption. How much you read isn’t important in the beginning. It’s not about reading a chapter a day or at a time. God can speak to you with just one verse, but you need to be where you can hear Him speak to you through it. Get away from all distractions and the noise in your life. Jesus went away from others to hear God. You should too.
You also need to be in the habit of praying and listening. Prayer is important. I think contemplative prayer is even more so. I’ll do a post on this soon because it’s more than just praying what comes to mind. It’s purposefully thinking through your prayers. That’s something you work up to though. Beyond just praying, you need to learn to quiet your mind and give God time to speak to you. We, like Elijah in I Kings 19:11-14, think that God speaks loudly all the time. We want Him to speak to us audibly. Elijah saw a windstorm that tore rocks loose from the mountains, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He saw an earthquake, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He even saw fire, but God’s voice wasn’t there either. After the fire, there was a gentle whisper of God’s voice. That’s how God speaks to us. We need to get to where we can hear His voice, then quiet our mind and listen for it.
Tomorrow I’ll wrap this series up with some final thoughts and encouragement to continue your training for Godliness.
If you were to ask my friends, they would describe me as a foodie. I live to eat. I don’t just consume food just because my body needs it. I spend lots of time researching and looking for great tasting food. I read reviews, look at menus, watch videos, check different websites, ask locals and use a variety of apps before I go out to eat. I like to say, “You only get to eat three times a day. You need to enjoy it.”
Whether you’re like me or you just eat to live, we all have to eat if we want to stay alive. Without food, our body begins to consume itself until we die. Food is a necessity if we want to live. The same goes for our soul. It needs to be fed in order to stay healthy, but the food it eats isn’t physical. Ecclesiastes 6:7 says, “We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry” (MSG).
So what do we feed our souls? In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” I believe our souls are fed when we spend time with God. They are recharged and are given strength when we take time each day to spend quiet time alone with God. Remember the Psalmist said, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)
We wouldn’t miss a meal for our physical body. Why do we miss them for our spiritual one? Only one will last forever. We need to take time each day to feed it good food to make it healthy. It’s not good for us to have our soul go hungry. Every meal you feed it doesn’t have to be Instagram worthy just like every meal you feed your physical body doesn’t. Your soul lives to eat. Why not feed it as often as you can? A full soul has the potential to be a productive one.
My son is every bit of six years old. He runs through the house at full speed, laughs so hard he can’t hear anything and has to do everything himself. There are many times when I’m trying to give him instructions, but he keeps going. I yell his name to get his attention, but he keeps going. I’ve tried with everything in me to get him to hear me, but often I get no response while he’s moving around. It’s not until I have to get up, go over to him and get in his space that he hears me or realizes I’m trying to give him instruction.
I know he probably gets that from me, and as I think about it, I wonder how often that describes me today. How often is God trying to get my attention, screaming my name, but I can’t hear Him because of my busyness? I’ve got a lost of things to do, my mind is racing with ideas of what’s next and I’m halfway looking where I’m going. I don’t stop until God gets in my space and says, “Hey! I’m trying to talk to you. I’ve been trying to get your attention, but you won’t stop and listen.”
In those moments, I wonder how long He had been trying to get my attention. I have to think back, replay the last little bit and see all the ways He was trying to get my attention. I then seek forgiveness for being to busy to hear Him and renew my commitment to slow down. That’s when I’m reminded of Psalm 46:10. It says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (NLT) I think the Psalmist was a lot like me and that was his message from God that goes out to all of us who run full speed all the time.
I’ve learned that God cares less about my busyness and more about my ability to stop and listen. I’m learning from my son that when I’m running around, I can’t hear what’s being said. I can’t focus on what I’m supposed to. How many mishaps could have been prevented? How many blessings have I missed out on because I was too busy to hear Him? If you’re like me, let me encourage you to take time to stop today and listen. Chances are that God is calling your name and is trying to get your attention.
I jokingly refer to Egypt as the land of a thousand car horns because Egyptians use the horn instead of a blinker. I once tried to count how many honks I heard in a ten second span, and couldn’t do it. There were times when I just wanted some peace and quiet. To get away from the noise, I would rent a sail boat and have them take me to the middle of the Nile. It was my little quiet place where I could stop and think as I watched the sun set behind the pyramids.
Where is your quiet place? We may not love in the land of a thousand horns, but we live in a noisy world. There are so many distractions in our lives that it’s hard to find that place of serenity. It’s that place where our phone isn’t buzzing, kids aren’t vying for your attention, social media doesn’t exist, and no one bothers you. We all need that space in this world or we’ll go crazy!
In Psalm 27, David found it. He wrote, “When besieged, I’m calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool. I’m asking GOD for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic” (MSG). David found his quiet place in spending time with God.
Each of us needs to set aside time in our day to spend time with God. We need it to keep our perspective so we can remain calm and cool no matter what’s happening in our lives. That quiet place reminds us that God is in control and that He’s got you. Resting in His presence quiets the fears and doubts of the unknown our lives. His Word gives us the hope and encouragement we need. If you’re there right now, take some time to find that quiet place in Him. You’ll be glad you did.
I like to tell people that I’m the busiest person I know. I carry two phones with three numbers attached to them. I work a full time job, write, do ministry, and drive for Uber at night. I look around though, and see other people who are just as busy. Somehow in our world, we equate busyness with value. The more we do, the greater we are. Even in the Church, we have adopted this mentality with ministers and lay leaders. We are always on the clock, we never take a sabbatical, and we never say “no” to anything or anyone.
That’s not the example Jesus gave us for ministry. Even though He was very busy and sought after, Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (NLT). The model He gave us was to step away from our duties often to spend time alone with the Father. He understood that it is not wise to continually give without going to the Father for a refill. As our lives become more busy, our intimate conversations alone with God in our prayer closet should increase.
Revival is coming and we need to be in the habit of stepping aside from all the distractions to spend time alone in prayer. Performing miracles, leading the lost to the cross, caring for the poor, and preaching are not supposed to take the place of our quiet time with God. He wants us to understand that busyness equals distractions and distractions keep us from going into our prayer closet. We can’t have the power of God flowing through us until we have been intimate with Him. God has always valued alone time with Him more than our busyness for Him.
Think of Martha and Mary. Martha was the one who welcomed Jesus into their home and as Luke 10:40 says, “was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” Mary was the one who was just sitting at the Lord’s feet listening. When Martha complained that she was doing all the work, the Lord replied, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it.” Each of us need to discover what that is as well. We need to take time often to just sit at the feet of Jesus, away from the distractions, and listen. That is what Jesus values and what we should value as well.