Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hungry For Time With God

I think it'd be safe to say that many Christians struggle with spending time alone with God. We get so caught up with the business of daily life that we can often forget to read our Bibles or to spend time in prayer, or we spend a very small amount of time reading or praying and check it off our check-lists. I know I am guilty of struggling with that here lately. I've always been so good about reading my Bible and spending time in prayer, but this summer, it's been a challenge for me.

Between prom, college orientation, high school graduation, work, church, camp, vacations, youth trips, and all of the other good things in my life, I let the things of this world distract me from His word. Somehow I got out of habit of faithfully studying the Word each day. I had always prided myself in that. I had always been so good at reading my Bible. It came so easily and so naturally. And I felt so close to God while doing it. But like working out and going on a diet, if you miss a few days, it's so hard to get back into it. And I missed way more than a few days. I honestly went all of May and June and part of July before truly getting back into the Word. Yeah, I read my Bible almost every single day. But did I ever truly read it? No, I just read a chapter or two to check it off my to-do list. It became a ritual, not a habit. And my spiritual life really suffered. You can tell simply by looking at how many posts I had in December-February compared to April-June.

Thankfully, in July, God really convicted me about it. And I slowly began to get back into the habit. It was tough, because I honestly felt like I was wasting my time. Not because reading the Bible is a waste of time, but because I felt like I was getting nothing out. It was so discouraging. It had always come naturally and easily, and I would get so much out of it. But I knew that the long-term benefits were worth it. I was so spiritually dry but so hungry at the same time. I wanted God so desperately! And I was sick of feeling dry and washed out.

So I had to get back into the habit. I had to rebuild the muscle that I had lost, and lose the fat that I had gained. You see, in order to get into a good habit of daily spending time with God, you have to be disciplined, committed, and hungry. Reading your Bible is like building muscle; the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more you grow. And it's also like being on a diet; staying committed and focused can be a challenge, but you will find that the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term costs and that's what you have to keep your focus on. And I can honestly say that I was very hungry and very committed, and that led to me being disciplined. And I'm working to get back to being in a habit again. I've well over the last week or two. I'm exercising and building my spiritual muscles and losing my spiritual fat.

Also, I have struggled with spending enough time with God. After fifteen or twenty minutes, I wouldn't really feel God telling me anything, and I'd get discouraged. But I once heard it said that if you haven't gotten anything out of a quiet time, you haven't sat long enough yet. And I believe that statement is so true. If you've read your Bible for twenty minutes and still don't feel like God has spoken to you or shown you anything, sit for twenty more. And if you still feel nothing, sit for twenty more. And twenty more. And twenty more. And twenty more. If you are hungry enough, you will spend as long as it takes to hear from Him. Personally, my best quiet times often last between forty and sixty minutes. Now I know that not everyone has that time in their day. But if you're hungry for Him, you'll find the time. You'll find it somehow, because you know that to know Christ is the most important thing in your life, and it's worth losing all else to gain.

Now I would like to make something clear, and I say this entirely from experience: there is a reason it is called a quiet time. If you want to hear from God, I promise that you will most often find Him in silence. So when you're trying to have a quiet time, take out the earbuds and pause your music.

If you want to hear from God, find a place that is quiet and distraction-free. Find a closet, an unused room, even a car. Clear your mind, and then open up the Word. Start talking to Him. Start listening for Him. Sit in silence and let Him guide your thoughts, and you'll be surprised to find that He really will talk to you.

You see, as well-intentioned as we can be about it, listening to music while we are trying to spend time with God can be a distraction. And I speak from experience. I tend to focus more on the music than I do on God. As great and encouraging and worshipful as worship music can be, I honestly get distracted by it more than it helps me focus. So now, when I'm trying to talk to God, when I'm trying to listen to God, and when I'm reading my Bible, I try to remove all distractions from the room so I can focus. After all, it's called a quiet time for a reason, right?

     " constant in prayer." ~Romans 12:12

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