For me one of the greatest challenges in my walk with God has actually been carving out time to spend with Him. From a very young age I was taught that I needed to have a quiet time. So, when I received the challenge, I would start trying to have a quiet time with God. Things would go well for a while and then life would happen. I would wake up late. I would not feel well. I would wake up not “feeling it” at all.
As a result I have journeyed the past twenty-five plus years with God in a somewhat bi-polar manner. I would have times when I was getting up and spending massive times with God followed by seasons when I would shoot up a quick prayer and read a devotional if I had the time. The sad part of this confession is that many of these years where while serving as a pastor. I was spending hours in Bible Study to teach and preach, but my walk with God was suffering. Also, my preaching was suffering and I didn’t know it. The best sermons come out of the overflow of a pastor’s walk (quiet time) with God.
For years I fought this back and forth. For years I felt great when I was having a quiet time and guilty when I didn’t. For years I wanted things to be better, but I didn’t know how to overcome those continual obstacles that would get in the way. I didn’t know how to navigate a hectic schedule, early morning meetings, kids getting up early, not feeling well, etc.
Over the last few years things have changed with regard to my quiet time. It is very consist. It is not the bi-polar back and forth. It is everything I hoped and thought it could be and so much more. Yet, it didn’t just happen. I had to learn to overcome the obstacles that stood between God and me. Here’s a list of things I did, I hope it helps you overcome what stands between you and God.
- I made it the number one priority once I was awake. This means that I don’t do anything else first. I don’t dive into social media, emails, TV or anything else. I only get a cup of coffee first. I think God understands the coffee thing. Anyway, it is the number one priority when I wake up. This also means that it impacts when I wake up and go to bed. My schedule revolves around it.
- I prepared for it. That is to say that I have everything I need for my quiet time sitting in the spot where I am going to sit and spend time with God. I don’t have to look for a pen, Bible, devotional book or journal. Everything is right there. This takes the “Oh, well never mind” factor out of it. Also, it is a practice I picked up from childhood, because my mom made me lay my clothes out every night before school and church. Being ready to spend time with God makes it easier when you are coming out of the fog of sleep and have somewhere to get very soon.
- I started journaling my prayers. By writing down my prayers to God and bullet pointing the things I pray about I am able to stay on track and focused in my prayer time. Probably one the biggest obstacles in prayer is knowing what to pray. I have taken that obstacles out of the way by having a written list of things to pray. If you don’t have a prayer journal, I encourage you to pick one up and start journaling your prayers and requests.
- I have a plan. I know exactly what I am going to read each morning. I don’t have to find something to read. I know exactly what is next. If you need help developing a Bible reading plan, check out YouVersion. They have hundreds of reading plans and resources to help you out. However, you can do what I am doing right now. Pick a book of the Bible, read one chapter a day and write down insights that the Holy Spirit gives you as you read.
I hope these few tips help you to overcome the obstacles that stand between you and a growing relationship with God. I want you to know that there is so much more to Him than what you see right now. You can discover more of who God is if you will make the steps to seek Him first.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33 (ESV)