I know the majority of you reading this title are saying, “yeah right, not possible.” Hold onto that thought and consider that I was once of the same mind set. Let’s face it. We are inundated with worldly demands that vie for our attention with diligence and tenacity. With the ever advancing technological dynamics of our day, we are lead to believe that we can recover time or at the very least use it wisely. Unfortunately, neither of these misleading paradigms are true.
We soon find that the ever expanding technological advances simply demand more work, more effort, requires more ways of communicating, which leads to increased expectation on those utilizing the technology. Let me preface this by not saying what you think I am saying. Technology is simply a tool with no inherent value aside from what we put on it. Therefore, it is neither evil nor good. It is truly in the eye of the beholder. If you spend 50%, 30%, 20% or any time of your day on a particular social media platform or video streaming service, it is not the social media platform/video streaming service, nor the internet, nor the device of your choosing at fault.
The fact is simply this, as soon as the alarm screams its ominous toll our precious time starts to fade quickly. We need to intentionally forecast time on our Creator. Therefore, before we get started on the how, it would prove useful to address the why. Although, the aforementioned address to technological advancement and its insatiable lust for our time probably gives way to some form of “why,” we will address it from the lens of Scripture.
Our world is full of “why.” If you want to experience this in all of its fruitfulness, simply allow yourself an afternoon with a toddler. All jokes aside, there are many reasons why we should want to grow closer to God. The first and most important reason is this: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body, soul, and strength. In addition to the first and greatest commandment, we can look at a few verses that further support the “why.” However, by no means an exhaustive list, we can see the importance God places on growing closer to Him.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
1 Timothy 4:7
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness
While all of these verses address the “why” I want to focus on the 1 Timothy. Paul says here we are to train ourselves for godliness. That is the process of sanctification over the course of our life as God the Father continues to mold us into the image of God the Son (Jesus) by power of God the Spirit (Holy Spirit). What do we have to loose with growth in godliness (sanctification)?
Our fears, our propensity toward sin (Caveat of course I mean we will willingly choose to sin less), our shame, our guilt, our baggage, our meanness, our anger. What do we have to gain? We gain the ability to properly love, choose joy, experience true peace, maintain patience in all situations, extend kindness, overflow with goodness, keep faithfulness to God, pour out gentleness and exercise self-control. All to the glory of God, for our good by His mercy and grace. Let’s move to the “how.” How can this be accomplished in 30 minutes? Well, there are 4 things we can do each day that will help us. This is not an exhaustive list but a great start.
I know what you are thinking, “I can’t sing.” No worries, I cannot sing nor carry the proverbial tune in the 5 gallon drum; however, this practice does not mean you have to sing. The purpose is to worship the Lord in song by focusing our hearts, minds and ears to the tune of the music while simultaneously praising God. Find a station on one of the many smartphone apps that allow you to listen to music or search a web platform. I listen to older hymns not because they are inherently better than contemporary music; rather, I do so because they generally contain a lot of theological truth/doctrine in the lyrics and this helps keep me focused on God.
2. Pray the Bible
If you have never done this, you are missing out. If you have ever felt like you say the same things about the same things in prayer, this is for you. If you feel like you don’t know how to pray or what to say, this is for you. All that aside, this is for everyone. Praying the Bible is the amazing process of reading scripture, steeping it in your heart and sending it back up to God in prayer. Let me explain how it works and then give an example.
Thumb to the Psalm of the day (e.g. if It is the 10th, Psalm 10, the 25th Psalm 25 etc..) and read the first verse out loud or silently. Whatever comes to your heart or mind, simply turn it into a prayer and send it back to God. When nothing else comes to mind, read verse two and repeat praying until nothing else comes to mind and then on to verse 3 and so on. This can be done until you meet the time you have set for prayer or nothing else comes to mind. I thought when I first learned this technique that there would be no way I could ever pray for 10-15 minutes let alone 5 but once you get into this routine, time will easily pass by. Your heart will be filled with God’s word and your lips will be full of prayer.
We will use Psalm 4 as an example. – Psalm 4 Verse 1 – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. God, I pray that you will answer me when I call to you and right now Lord I call out. Please bless my family today… Lord God you are my righteousness, thank you for being my righteousness God. Without You oh God, there is no Salvation, thank You for Your Salvation….God you relived me in my distress Lord when I was dealing with that storm or sickness or temptation… God thank you for your grace, be gracious to me and hear my prayer as I pray for so and so, and for situation and thus…. I hope you can see the potential for your prayer life in using this method. Remember whatever or whoever comes to mind, just pour out your heart to God with His words.
3. Bible Intake
This process is simply reading the Bible to yourself. A good practice is to choose a book of interest or one you have not read through and begin in chapter one. Read out loud and slowly while trying to mentally soak in the Word. This will help you get through books of the Bible and cause you to start probing the text more as what you read manifests applications and questions for your life. Remember this process is simply to read God’s word and take in what you read. It is not time to study the depth of the text.
4. Meditate on Scripture
This process is where you choose a devotional book to begin in and study the text more thoroughly. For example, if you choose the book of James, begin in chapter 1 and read a few verses. Have your journal handy so that you can focus your thoughts as you meditate on what you read. You might wish to focus on “bond-servant” in James 1:1. There are various ways to meditate on this. You can ask questions :
The main idea behind Scripture meditation is to focus deeply on the text. James says in 1:2, “Consider it … ” The word consider means to think deeply on, look at from various angles, meditate on, concern yourself with. Simply put, we should consider the text as we read it. Scripture meditation is a great way to increase our understanding of the text as well as draw out application. This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive but a small starting point for us to intentionally grow closer to our Creator using a Biblical method. Furthermore, this process is flexible which means if you only have 10-15 minutes a day, great! Start there and slice up the 4 activities in a way that works for you.
I know it is tough to schedule more things in our already too full calendar but when it comes to sanctification and growth in godliness, let something else go and make this a priority. The benefits far outweigh the cost. Make more time for God and less time for the world. In the words of most notable missionary evangelist, Jim Elliot: “I believe the enemy has made it his business to monopolize on three things, noise, hurry and crowds. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” Don’t let the world steal all your time. Give some to God for worship, prayer, reading His word and meditating on its meaning. When we go to face our Great Creator we will be asked what we did with the time we were given.