With the labor day holiday behind us, many are now thinking ahead to the fall and winter seasons and plans for growth, be it in their businesses, churches, or personal lives. I always like to reflect on my goals both personally and professionally at this time. As a pastor, I’m always looking at the basics of personal time with God, reading the Bible daily, and taking adequate amounts of time for prayer. Of course there are always the “professional” tasks to consider such as sermon preparation, visitor follow-up, administration, planning, and all of those other things tied to the actual “job” of being a pastor but I’ve found that if I don’t stay in tune with the basics and constantly give myself to a regular review of them, my ministry will suffer and so will everything else tied with it.
With that in mind, I’d like to take the next three days to discuss these basics. If you have some insights to bring regarding these disciplines, please comment. I’m curious to read about others and their journey toward keeping their inner lives vibrant. Let’s proceed.
Your personal time with God
For many, this is the toughest of the three since it requires us to quietly sit and allow God to speak to us in His “still small voice”. If your personality lends itself to being in motion all the time, this can be very difficult For others, it’s a struggle because in some Christian circles, we’ve been taught that such practices are too “new age” and are “taboo” in our walk with Christ. Whatever the reasons, we need to practice this discipline with diligence if we are going to follow the bible’s command to have our minds renewed to be more like Christ’s (Romans 12:1-2). In recent years, some new resources have been developed to help in this area. Author and Free Will Baptist pastor Randy Sawyer focuses on this discipline in his book “Regaining Balance” when he writes: “As an orchestra becomes focused and tuned by the first violin, so the chaos of our desires is calmed and centered when we give God His place.”
Finding time for contemplative prayer can be difficult, especially if you are a minister that is bi-vocational. But even if you aren’t, we are prone to check things off our “To-Do” list and feel more accomplished than we are to sit quietly and rest in God’s presence. (I am chief among you in this!) Lately though, I’ve made it a point, even if I have to schedule it in my day planner, to make time each day to get alone to a quiet spot and allow God to speak to me. Many people who are opposed to Christian meditation will say that is what Bible reading is for. While daily time in His word is vitally important, it’s not a substitute for a regular quiet time. Many times, after reading the bible, I will meditate and ponder a passage I’ve read and give God space to allow His words to touch the deepest parts of my soul with their impact and truth. A superficial reading of the text does not allow this.
Other times, I’ve given thought to the many prayer requests I’ve written down and give those to God as I walk along a path in the cool of the morning and pray quietly as I seek his wisdom in so many areas.
Whatever it takes for you to develop this habit, (assuming you are not doing it already) take the time to make this a part of your daily life. Along with your bible reading and prayer life, this key habit will refresh and revitalize your personal walk with Christ and that, in turn, will make you a more effective husband, father, and pastor.