BUSY – a 4-letter word that is becoming a fad now. It is being used as a common reason and unfortunately, most, if not all, of us are becoming victims of this word.
Unfortunately, our devotion to God is affected as well by our busyness. We think that there are lot of things to do and there is no more time left for us to spend time with God.
Here are the common “specific” reasons why someone doesn’t have time for devotion based on the people I talked to :
A lot of things to do at work and so many deadlines.
Already arrived late from work/school. I’m too tired already and I just want to rest.
Need to finish my homework. I still have N homeworks to finish.
Exam is coming. I need to review to pass the exam.
I went out for vacation and enjoyed it.
I am with my friends/family and I need to take care of them.
I am sleepy.
I woke up late.
And many more excuses… Can you enumerate more? 🙂
All of these reasons rooted on what we prioritized or valued the most. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We exert effort, spend more time and focus on the things we treasured. Sad to say, many of us tend to say we love God but spending time with Him is our least priority. We tend to value more our work, our studies, our relationships, our ministry and other things over God. I don’t say that we should not value them but putting them more valuable than God is dangerous. I remember someone told me “God gave me this work/studies, I should be excellent on these things as I wanna honor God”. There’s nothing wrong to honor God by being excellent on the things He entrusted to us but don’t let these things replaced God in our life. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? I hope we would be like Mary who chose to listen to Jesus rather than Martha who became distracted by all the preparations he made for Jesus (Luke 10:40-42).
I liked what Martin Luther said:
Despite of a lot of things that he needs to accomplish, he decided to spend his first 3 hours in prayer. He put utmost priority to God by having his first appointment with Him. He knows where to draw strength, he knows who should be the first over all. I hope that we would be able to build up the same habit and understand further God’s value in our life. Let Him be our first VVVVIP (very, very, very, very important person) that we put our best to meet Him on the first hour(s) of our day. In Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Here are some tips to get us on the right track in building up our personal devotion:
Understand God’s value in your life
When we value something/someone, we spend time with it. One example is relationship: when we love someone, we spend time and effort for him/her. Another example is work and studies: because we know that our work or our studies is valuable, we are doing our best for us to be promoted or get a raise (for working adults) or to get high grades and awards (for students).
It is very easy to say “I love God” or “I prioritize God above all else” but it is very difficult to put it into practice.
Sit down and reflect on the value of God in your life. Where is He in your life?
Categorize all the things you are doing in a day
This will help us to realize the things that are consuming our time in a day. List down all of these including the non-sense ones.
Once you completed your list, categorize them between valuable and non-valuable. Valuable are those activities that add value to yourself such as work, trainings, rest (sleep), studies, devotion/prayer, reading, meetings, eating, exercise, etc. Non-valuable are activities that do not add value to yourself such as excessive watching of TV, surfing the internet, social media, idle times, etc.
You will be amazed that you are actually not busy! You might just doing a lot of non-valuable activities.
Given the non-valuables that you have, what needs to be done? What are the valuable activities you can replace for these?
In the list of your valuable activities, where is your personal time with God there? Is He the least of your valuables? I hope not. I hope He is the topmost priority in our list. How about attending a discipleship group?
Setup a plan and commit on it
I hope it is now getting clearer and you now have insights on which are the activities you can scrap off in your daily life. Now, let’s setup a plan and commit onto it.
When attending classes or doing our work, we have our preset time. We are doing our best not to be late in our classes or work. We even render overtime at work some times to accomplish our responsibilities.
When meeting someone, specially a VIP, we are getting excited, dressing up well and even reach the meeting place earlier than the schedule.
I hope that we have greater excitement in terms of spending our time with God. I agree that most, if not all of us are having challenges doing it but we should fight for it and commit ourselves into it.
Commit a specific schedule for your personal devotion with God. Again, He is our VVVVIP, He deserves the best time of our day! Choose a time when you are at the peak of your strength where you can dwell deeper in His word.
Personally, I am having my devotion every morning. My set time for it is the first 30 minutes of my day, usually 6AM-6:30AM. I admit there are times it I’m facing challenges doing it but I have to fight for it. Until I got used to it that every time I wake up, my body will move into a prayer position and start thanking God for the new day ahead, then play worship songs or read the bible. Aside from that, for the rest of my day, as much as possible, I am allotting my other idle time as well to read, pray and worship. Usually, over the weekends, I extend my personal devotion for two hours and I really like soaking with God during this moment. It will be an amazing experience that you are not keen of the time but enjoying every second with Him.
It will be difficult to commit on our own. It will be best to have someone we are accountable to, to remind us about our commitment on having our personal devotion. Talk to someone who can follow you up, who can rebuke you in case you fail and encourage you to be back on track. This will help us to discipline ourselves in building up our devotion habit.
Start with worship
Now, that we have our set time for our personal devotion, the next question is how?
The best way based on my experience to start our personal devotion is thru singing of worship songs. Just sing, sing and ask God for you to experience His presence. Pour yourself into Him. If you wanna jump, jump. If you wanna dance, dance. If you wanna shout, shout. It is only you and God. Don’t limit yourself and let your heart pours in His presence.
Talk to God. Be personal with Him. He is just around us. His presence is everywhere. Treat Him as a person who is willing to listen to you. Open up everything that is in your heart and your mind and cast to Him any burdens and worries that you have.
Read the word of God and do journaling
For beginners, it is recommended to start with the book of Mark. If you find it difficult to continue or you don’t know what to read next, you can opt for a bible plan. There are several bible plans around. One of these that I am using is the One Year Bible Plan from http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com. If you are not into reading, you may download the Super Book application for iPhone and Android as it comes with videos and some bible quizzes to get you into reading the bible.
As for journaling what you have learned from reading the bible, there are several approaches but what we are using is the SOAP method:
Share your devotion to others and encourage one another
Always remember, you are not alone. There is a group of people that will help you to grow and develop the habit of having your personal devotion. Come up with a plan together, share what you have learned from your devotion and encourage one another. As mentioned in Heb. 10:24-25:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
That’s it! I hope this will be helpful to you and happy devotion! May You grow more in your relationship with God and be build up in your faith through Jesus Christ!
All Scripture is breathe out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Tim. 3:16-17