Whatever you call it—quiet time, prayer, devotional, or something else, if you have been a Christian for very long, then you most likely know that you need to spend time with the Lord on a regular basis. Spending time with the Lord can take so many forms—Bible study, praise and worship, prayer, reading a devotional—all of those are wonderful. However, I think it is hugely important to acknowledge that to walk with the Lord, to be strong in the face of daily challenges and to grow into the women we are meant to me, we need both Bible study and time in God’s presence talking and listening to Him. For years, I struggled with consistency in my time with the Lord. Reading and studying the Bible was the part I was pretty consistent with, but I had a hard time with my daily prayer time. I would have good intentions of starting first thing in the morning, but then the day would get away from me, and it wouldn’t happen.
Why? The reasons we struggle with prayer may be varied. For me, I think it was because I had been exposed to a lot of legalistic ideas about prayer and what a quiet time should be—I had rules in my head that I thought I should be following, and if I didn’t or couldn’t, I thought, What’s the point? Then, I completed the negative cycle by judging myself very harshly. Can you say, “Hello, Condemnation?”
What helped me step away from condemnation and walk in the Spirit of freedom and life in my quiet times? I had to let go of the rules—rules about how long I should pray, the parts of prayer that I should address, and when exactly I should pray.
Maybe you have struggled to have a creative prayer time for some other reason. So much of our power and joy comes from our time with God, that our enemy uses many strategies to keep us from enjoying it. Today, I want to share with you some of my experiences and what has most helped me to create a consistent prayer time.
- Reminder yourself that God loves you and longs to spend time with you. See Zephaniah 3:17, The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Another great scripture to remind you of God’s grace is in Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
- Here is a possible morning ritual to start with: Have your morning drink. Light a candle. Close your eyes. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and be with you. Think about the Lord and how much He loves you and how much you love Him. Meditate on all that you are grateful for.
- You can add this on, or try this instead of #2: Get a notebook—fancy, spiral, it doesn’t matter. Write out your prayer in a letter format to the Lord. Spend 5 minutes writing about all you want to thank Him for. Then, spend 5 minutes asking him to meet a need that is on your heart—for yourself or someone else.
- When you first sit down with your notebook and/or coffee, jot down your impressions upon waking up. Do you feel anxiety about something? Do you have a concern about an event on your schedule? A worry from the previous day? Write those down. Then, do your thanksgiving writing and write about your concerns.
- Do you have to write? No, of course not. You can talk to the Lord out load or in your head. Just talk to him, and know you do not have to use flowery language or big words to impress God. See scripture Pour out your hearts to him.
- Pray for yourself. I was taught to pray for myself last –this rule was emphasized to me so much, that I almost felt like it was a sin to pray for myself first. Then, this year, I was in a Bible study group where everyone in the group (and it was a big group) had been taught to pray for themselves first and then others! This just blew my mind. Take aways: 1) It is okay to pray for yourself first. Some days, you may need to pray for yourself for the whole of your time with the Lord. 2) Don’t create more rules for yourself. God may lead you to do written prayers for a month and then, He may lead you to do something else. Does that mean you are failing because you are no longer doing written prayers? Of course not, our spiritual practice will most likely change from time to time.
- Listen and receive. I used to feel (and still do sometimes) like I had to hold up the whole conversation when I prayed. I was all talk-talk-talk. Then, I would sometimes get upset that I didn’t hear from God. He gently pointed out to me, that I did not set aside time to listen. Part of listening is being still and quiet and receiving from God. That’s easy for some people, and much harder for others, like me. What helps me receive from God, is listening to and singing along with worship music with no other agenda and just sitting and thinking about Him and focusing on Him. Lighting a candle and going to a quiet place helps me “mark” that time as sacred.
Is there something else that has helped you be consistent and strong in your time with the Lord? Please share in the comments!