Growing up, I loved family fun nights. Occasionally, the four of us played a game, watched a movie, or went out together in lieu of the normal evening at home. These nights had a way of bringing us closer by experiencing something different together. We discovered more about why we loved each other. Stories came up that might not have over just a weekday dinner table.
Just as relationships within a family can grow, thanks to a break in the routine, my relationship with God can grow deeper if I learn to avoid letting it become just a well-rehearsed habit. However, the daily dinner table is good, and if we played every evening, homework and the housework would never get done.
Similarly, nothing can replace regular prayer and Bible study. But spending time with God in a different way once in a while can refresh my relationship with God and draw me closer to Him.
When quiet times become just a ritual, my awe of God may fade. Or if I’m in a dry time, focusing on God’s character can sustain my faith. Read passages like Isaiah 40-66 or books like A. W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy, or meditate on the names of God, praising Him as you remember His attributes.
“When I literally walk with the Lord, it helps me see things from a different perspective,” says Campus Crusade staff member Kim Hiemstra. “It takes away the distractions of the computer or other people in my apartment, and opens me up to the world around me. Also the physical exercise of walking helps to burn excess fidgety energy so I can focus on the Lord.”
Reading aloud or listening to the Bible brings the stories to life in a different way. This can be especially helpful if you’re an auditory learner. Plus, you can listen while you exercise, drive to work or clean the house. The Bible and sermons are available online. Since I moved out of state, I’ve enjoyed downloading my home-church pastor’s sermons and listening to them while I walk in the mornings. Not only do I get good teaching, but I also feel connected to friends back home.
Garden, paint, crochet, cook, turn wood, cast a line, iron shirts, throw the ball for the dog—pick something. While you’re working on a project, you’re less likely to be distracted until the project comes to a good stopping point. In the meantime, instead of tuning out, take that time to tune in to what God brings to heart.
The Psalms are prayers and songs of praise. Read through one verse at a time and pray to God in response. Charlotte Driver, staff member with FamilyLife, says, “It meets me right where my heart
is, and it’s amazing to pray the praises back to God that I would struggle to convey myself.”
Look back through old photos, scrapbooks, or journals and remember times when God’s faithfulness was especially evident to you. When the Psalmist in 77:11,12 is feeling distant from God, he does what God so often commands—he remembers: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds” (NIV). By remembering, he is reminded of God’s faithfulness.
The world urges me to stay busy and bombards me with noise. I often forget how to be still in silence. Donald Whitney, in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, writes, “The worship of God does not always require words, sounds or actions. Sometimes worship consists of a God-focused stillness and hush.” If you’re someone who’s not usually comfortable with silence, ask God to help you seek it and apply verses about being still (Lamentations 3:25-28; Isaiah 30:15; Psalm 62; Mark 6:31). Keep a notepad handy so you can jot down things and quiet your mind.
Write it out and reflect on it. I might copy anywhere between a verse and an entire chapter, depending on the flow and depth of the passage. I notice things I might not if I were just reading the words. Themes become more obvious, and I remember better what I read.
Get a hymnal from a used bookstore and read through the songs or sing them, meditating on the words. You might find yourself singing them throughout the day.
Pray on your knees, maybe beside your bed or with your head bowed to the floor. To get a sense of how humbled people like Daniel felt in God’s presence, flatten yourself out on the floor completely prostrate before God. Imagine Him as He is on His throne in Revelation 4 and 5.
My effectiveness as a Spirit-filled believer in this world depends on my close fellowship with God, so my time with Him needs His protection. Satan and my own sinful nature war against my time with God by letting it grow stale and throwing countless distractions at it. But God can protect it and keep it alive as I learn to enjoy Him, balancing consistency and variety.
Used with permission of Worldwide Challenge magazine. ©2010 Cru/Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. All rights reserved. www.worldwidechallenge.org