The Macs

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

day 22 + my quiet time

Only eight more days and I will have made it to day thirty of my 30 Day Challenge. What I love about this challenge is that it is developing a habit that I so desperately want and need in my life every day. This challenge is not a goal that I want to just check off my list or pat myself on the back for accomplishing thirty days of meeting with the Lord and then go on with my life. My morning devotional time is just becoming part of my day now. And it is my prayer that this habit doesn't end once I reach day thirty, but that it becomes a life long habit of making the Lord the priority of my days...every day.

How about you? For those of you who have joined me in this challenge, what have the past 22 days been like for you? Has it been a struggle to find a consistent, quiet time to meet with the Lord? What has God been teaching you?

What about my quiet time?

A few of you have asked me to share what my quiet time/devotional time looks like and some resources I use. I hesitate to share about my personal quiet time because everyone's time with the Lord will look different. I am a rule follower by nature (aka..."fun hater") and that even trickles down to my quiet time. I have struggled to find the "right" way to do my devotions all my Christian life...even though there really isn't such a thing. I don't want my devotion time to become a legalistic thing...making sure I meet with Him at a certain time, for a certain amount of time, in a certain place just to check it off my list and feel good about myself. I am meeting a Person, not a habit.

However, over the past year the Lord has used many different people and Bible studies to show me in His Word some really important things about a personal quiet time. It has been helpful for me to learn from these people and so I pray that instead of this looking like a list of rules, you would be encouraged as I share a little bit about what my own quiet time with the Lord usually looks like.

Like I told you before, I have really been challenged to start my days off with my devotions. I can't tell you how early to get up to have a meaningful time with the Lord in the mornings, but for me that has meant setting my alarm to get up before Levi wakes up. I have found that if I don't do this it is so much harder to find time during my day to quiet my heart once my little guy is running around, the phone starts ringing, and I am in the middle of my "to do" list for the day. There is definitely going to be a season in my life once Levi's little brother arrives that this might have to change or look a little different, but for now this is what is working for me.

There are two things that are crucial to my quiet time...God's Word and prayer. Someone once told me that when we are reading God's Word we are receiving from Him and when we pray we are responding back to Him. This really helped me see the correlation between reading the Bible and praying.

We become more like the people we spend time with. So that is my purpose of spending time each day with the Lord; to know Him and to become more like Him. I usually start my time with the Lord by just asking Him to speak to me and give me direction through His Word. A friend suggested that I read a Proverb a day. Proverbs is the book of wisdom and there is no doubt that as a woman and mom I need God's wisdom. And it is perfect that there are 31 chapters in I just read one chapter a day. While I was doing BSF I was also reading through Isaiah, but this summer I have started reading through the Bible chronologically. This has been awesome! I am ashamed to admit that even after being a Christian for this long that I don't think I have ever read through the Bible. But it is never too late to start, right?? I am following this chronological plan. The Lord has been teaching me so many things and I love that I am getting a "bigger picture" of His Word. I have a journal that I write things that God is teaching me in, but I don't write in it everyday. I love keeping a journal though. It is so encouraging to look back and see what God has done in my life. I started writing in my journal pretty consistently after Cora died and it is amazing to look back at how He carried me through those dark, dark days.

When I pray I definitely struggle with my mind wondering, so it has been helpful to me to have somewhat of a "plan" as I pray. I take time to respond to the things God is teaching me through what I am reading in His Word (often that means confessing a lot of ugliness in my heart), lay my day and schedule before Him, and intercede for others. I really desire to be a wife who prays for her husband and a mom who prays for her kids. I have been using the book Prayers of an Excellent Wife by Andrew Case to guide me as I pray for Joel. This book has been so helpful in leading me to pray God's Word for my husband. It only takes a few minutes and I love it. I have also been using a monthly guide that I got from BSF to pray for my kids. There is a focus for each month along with verses to pray for your child. This has been really helpful to me too. I know many people divide prayer requests up by days of the week or use a prayer journal. Any of those methods would work great too!

So...that was way longer than I was planning it to be. I in no way think that I have my relationship with the Lord or my devotion time all figured out. I am constantly learning and growing. And often the Lord uses people just like you to guide me along the way. I read this in a book the other day:

I have found that it takes a firm commitment to make daily devotions consistent. However, I have often felt guilty if this time isn't as long as I think it should be or if I don't cover all the disciplines I think are important. It has taken years for me to realize that God doesn't love me because I have a quiet time--He just loves me! This knowledge alone has increased my desire to be with Him.

How important it is to come to our quiet time, not with the fear that God will punish us if we miss, but eager to meet Him--to learn, to grow and to find sweet fellowship with a Father who loves us far more than we could ever imagine. 
-Sandy Smith from A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

How about you? What does your devotion time look like? Do you have any books or resources that have been helpful to you? I would love to know.

Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me.
Psalm 25:4-5


Blogger Ben said...

I've never posted on your blog before, but God has used you many times to speak to me. Thank you for being so obedient to the His voice and leading. I wanted to share this song with you. I love how the beginning describes someone coming to the feet of the mighty King and asking what it is He wants in gratitude for all He has done. Keep listening because the songwriter gives us a response from the Lord that is powerful and right along with what you have written about today. Blessings to you and thank you again for allowing yourself to be such an instrument for Him.

June 22, 2011 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger franknbellesmom said...

I've been reading through the Bible since September (365 plan from my church) and have just begun blogging about what God teaches me. When I finish my first read-through, I'm going to start again, this time with a journal and blogging. After that, I want to do a chronological reading because I love knowing what was going on in other areas. I learned a lot just homeschooling my daughter, history-wise, and I want the two areas to merge to give me a better understanding.

(Your family is so cute! Thank you for sharing them with me!)

June 22, 2011 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous heather said...

I try to read a chapter or so in the morning and again at night. I'm fairly consistent with this and it has allowed me to read through the Bible in about 18 months.
I pray short prayers throughout the day and try to have a longer, more focused prayer time in the morning and night, along with the Bible reading. Remember to emphasize the word try! It is only with God's grace and help that any of this happens at all!
I just finished the book A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. I am so energized about my prayer life after reading this book!
Your blog has been quite an inspiration to me. Thank you.

June 23, 2011 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Stef said...

Jess, one thing the Lord has convicted me of while reading your posts {on this topic} is that I have to have a plan and a purpose and a time set aside for my time with Him. Surprise, right? I mean, we plan everything else out. We even DVR movies/shows that we're gonna miss on TV! But then I find that my time with my Maker gets shoved aside, sometimes done haphazardly at night, just before bed. I don't even treat my grocery shopping that way!

Anyway, thank you for these posts. they're encouraging, convicting and helpful to know I'm not alone in some of my struggles :)

June 23, 2011 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a new follower and have enjoyed being here so far!

i have been guilty of relying on on devotional books or articles that references a bible verse or two. it wasn't until i read this that encouraged me to really DIVE into God's Word. i started today- tho late on the 30-day challenge, never too late to actively seeking God and spending time in His Word and in prayer!

thanks for this!!!

June 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Meggie said...

I usually start off the day by praying while I get ready and shower. Then once I'm good and awake, I jot down my praises and prayers for the day and start reading the Word. Until this morning I was just basically reading random passages/verses that I've always loved or have meant a lot to me. Then after reading your post last night I'm going to start the same chronological reading plan as you. Thanks for sharing! Lately my little man has started waking up almost as soon as I sit down to have my quiet time... so this morning I set the alarm for a little earlier and it worked out great. I'm also expecting baby boy #2 (in September) so I'm sure I'll have an adjustment period of trying to figure out a new system that works for me. As for now, I'm going to stick with what I'm doing. It's become something I look forward to and the priority of my day. I love reading your blog and appreciate you being so open about your quiet time and your family life!

June 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I'm definitely an early-morning-before-the-kids-are-up devotion person. I've also struggled with not being legalistic about and constantly have to monitor whether I'm doing it out of guilt or because I really desire to meet with the Lord. I find it helpful to have structure which helps keep my mind from wandering...too far. :) Currently, I'm doing Kay Arthur's New Inductive Study Series on Jeremiah and it's amazing.

But on the days when (like this past week) I'm too exhausted from interrupted sleep, I also try to be intentional about checking in with God throughout the day - praying about my day as I go along, or putting on worship music.

One tip I heard at "A Weekend to
Remember" marriage conference was to keep a Bible in the bathroom for those times when the only time you have to yourself is in "the necessary." (Which makes me think I'd like to hang a sign on my bathroom door which says "Prayer Closet" ;) )

Thank you for continuing us all to be intentional about our time with God.

June 23, 2011 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Mommy to Many said...

Good for you on your consistencies! I wish I could say the same. I started off the 30 day challenge doing great. I could never seem to beat getting up before my children did (I have a 9 month old and a 2 year old) who wake up at random points. So I did my quiet time during nap. All went well till the weekend hit and I'm not sure what happened! I haven't been on track since. Ugh! Or Grrr! I'm not sure which feeling represents me the most.

June 23, 2011 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thanks, Jess! You're such an encouragement! I discovered Lydia Brownback's "On-the-go" devotionals at the Desiring God pastor's conference (Minneapolis) last fall. They are soooo good! I'd highly recommend them. They are rich with Truth, get you into the WORD, and are challenging. I've ordered them from Amazon.

June 23, 2011 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I appreciate this post so much. I can appreciate how hard it is to share something so personal, but THANK YOU! :) I have been reading The Me I Want to Be. The author was talking about what you are encouraging: quiet time that reflects the individual God created. Thanks for affirming that. When God brings something up to me in more than one place, it's my clue to pay attention.

June 24, 2011 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Robert J. Nash said...

Thank you for the quote: I meet with a person not a habit. Very very helpful to meditate on and see where I shift gears. I usually have my quiet time during nap time. I have 4 small children and have found that helpful during this phase of life. I either read through the Bible slowly or pick a book to read through. I have found it helpful to have a Bible reading plan and specific time during the day, every day. I usually pray during this time as well. Bedtime is when I get to read a chapter in a helpful christian book. As my youngest now is almost 1 hopefully I will have longer quiet times. Also worshipping to christian music when we drive somewhere is very helpful for my soul!

June 26, 2011 at 4:37 PM  

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