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« Things I Have Learned After Forty-Six Years of Marriage | Main | Your Time Management Relationship: Jesus as Present »

Spending Time with God

(This is the final segment in the Time-Management chapter of Hand-in-Hand: Deepening Your Relationship with Jesus Christ.)

The heading of “Spending Time with God” suggests a hundred different broader topics, like prayer, meditation, supplication, and so on.  Each one would profit your inner person immensely and begs exploration.  Our focus on time-management, however, narrows our concern to this question: how does a person preserve and prioritize time spent with God?  If you can succeed here, you will open all other aspects of your relationship with God. 

  • Location.  Depending on how long you can stay, make it comfortable, even temperature, low light, maybe some piano music (or whatever you prefer) and a bottle of water.  A daily retreat needs to be conveniently accessible; an occasional oasis should be more difficult to reach.  Also, your location can have a subtle effect on your thinking.  The farther you are away from your regular haunts, the more objective your perception can be. 
  • Time of Day.  Fatigue and sleepiness fog up the mind and cut prayer time short for many.  Early morning hours promise the best segment of time to devote to God.  Not only are you clear-headed and fresh, you also are less likely to hear your phone ring or have other interruptions.    Avoid giving God leftovers of your time.  The dregs usually suffer from poor quality.  Don’t let the tail wag the dog.
  • Distractions.  Your time with God will crash and burn if you permit even the possibility of distractions.  Phone calls and email notifications are the usual culprits, but your own mind may be more intrusive than these.  You may suddenly remember an appointment, you may rehash a conversation with someone, you may allow a worrisome thought to push its way into your meditations, or you may have a moment of inspiration about an article to write or a talk to give.  Keep a pen and paper handy and write down those thoughts.  Get back to them later, but deny them access to your privileged time with God.
  • Mood.  You have two options.  You can either override your mood and force yourself to follow a known script to communicate with God, or you can flow with how you feel and see where it takes you.  Moods can sometimes seize control of your direction and steal your purpose for spending time with God; or, your mood might open hidden areas of your heart that need aeration and catharsis.  It all depends on—you guessed it—the mood you’re in.  If you follow your mood, make sure you have enough time to finish.
  • Happenings.  Like moods, the current or recent events in your life most likely create a mindset that dominates your thoughts.  the death of a loved one, a divorce or strained relationships, a serious illness, a job loss or other major traumas in your life are hard to lay aside and enter a business-as-usual prayer time.  You may as well deal with the trouble while you are in direct communication with God.  Let your emotions out.  Believe me, God won’t mind.  He’s heard it all before.  Read some of the Psalms of David if you want to be sure. 
There are some red flags that pop up that threaten your time with God.  Your relationship with God will be sharply degraded by allowing these influences to prevail.  You must define them, oppose them, and overcome them. 
  • Busyness.  Your spiritual capacity gets depleted daily.  If you wouldn’t drive past a gas station if your fuel gauge says empty—no matter how high the price per gallon may be, or no matter how busy you are—why would you bypass a few moments to talk with God?  If you find yourself running past your times of refreshing, God is furiously waving a red flag of warning in front of you.
  • Negativity.  Unbelief often disguises itself as a nagging doubt, a flash of cynicism or a feeling that you are wasting your time in prayer.  These may be common human weaknesses, but they should not be dismissed as harmless.  If you find yourself struggling with negativity, you need to counter it with fasting, ingesting the Word of God, and stepping up the intensity of your prayer time. 
  • False constructs.  Don’t get locked into a rigid viewpoint on the act of praying.  Mindless repetition, insistence on a certain kind of prayer, or any prayer that seems mechanical or sterile will eventually cause you to lose vibrancy in your relationship with God.  Spontaneity and sensitivity to God’s Spirit breathes life into your time with God. 
  • False prisms.  Just as a prism redirects light rays, books, magazine articles, telecasts, websites, and the people in your life can redirect your thinking about God, prayer, and all things spiritual.  If your close associates have an evil heart, or are motivated by carnality, or if they have a wrong view of God, their opinions can interfere with the purity of your relationship with God.  God doesn’t want to hear someone else’s thoughts.  He wants a direct line into your heart.  Ultimately, discipleship comes down to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 
  • Fear.  Deep, introspective prayer may dredge up sludge you may never want to think about.  Fear of self-examination, fear of the pangs of conscience, fear of a negative effect on present relationships, fear of divine orders to rectify a problem, and much more, all serve as roadblocks to efficacy with God.  Remember, your relationship with God can only be as strong as your willingness to be transparent.  Whatever your fear may be, God’s grace is sufficient to cover it. 

Jesus showed us how to spend time with God.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. Matthew 14:23. The most important prayer that was ever prayed was a deliberate, separated place.  Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:36-39.  The time you spend with God—in seclusion, in transparency, in introspection—will become your greatest source of spiritual strength.


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