Every morning I rise early, make coffee, and settle down for my time with the Lord. This time is essential for my spiritual health, for the focusing of my priorities, and for the deepening of my relationship with God. I share it with you in the hope that it may encourage you to orient your life in a like manner and be a blessing to you as it has been for me.
I began this habit of a lifetime when I committed my life to Christ at fourteen years of age. My pastor introduced me to the Scripture Union (www.ScriptureUnion.org) method of reading the Bible. I have followed it ever since. I use their Encounter with God guide which takes me through the Bible and supplies a brief commentary written by an international and interdenominational stable of Christian authors. The method is fourfold: PRAY before you read the passage, asking God to help you understand knowing that he is the author and wants to speak to you directly through his Word; READ the Bible passage for the day; MEDITATE on the passage, writing in a journal anything that you have learned; PRAY again, asking God to help you live out his message to you. In addition to the passage I have committed myself this year to read through all the Bible. Encounter with God provides a One Year Bible Reading Plan of three chapters each day.
After the Bible reading I have a devotional book that I add to my spiritual diet. I will read a chapter in each one and thereby gain the insights of other Christians. Over a year I may read through many of these books on the Christian faith and life. Recently I have read Risky Faith by Susan Yates, Intersections of Grace by Susan Kerr, Letters of Faith Through the Seasons edited by James H. Houston and many others.
Finally, I like to read a book of theology or Christian philosophy. At the moment I am reading He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World by R. Albert Mohler. Similar books I have reviewed in my blog posts, e.g. It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies by Mary Eberstadt, Political Church: The Local Assembly as Embassy of Christ’s Rule by Jonathan Leeman, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene H. Peterson, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (Abridged) by Richard Baxter & Isaac Crewdson, Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme by Dave Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons. This is a time when I can reflect upon some Christian classics which make me think through my faith.
Usually all this takes an hour. After I have taken in all this material I try to listen to what the Spirit is bringing to my attention. Listening to the Lord is an important part of meditation. I will sometimes take notes of what comes to my mind of thoughts and actions I need to take and apply to my life.
Then I spend time in prayer, either in my chair or during my morning walk. I begin with praise and thanksgiving, go on to confession, prayers for my life and direction, and then prayers for my family and friends. I use a Prayer Manual which is a monthly calendar of prayer for members and outreach ministries of Amelia Plantation Chapel, praying for about fifteen members of the congregation each day, and for the coming week of ministry.
This time has proved invaluable over the years in enabling me to keep fresh and focused on what God wants me to be and do. I could not have survived the challenges and difficulties I have experienced without this discipline. I commend such a daily practice to you. Let me know what you have found works for you which may encourage others.