With our busy get-up-and-go lifestyles, it might seem more difficult than ever to find time for God or where we can fully make time for the essential aspects of the Christian life like prayer and Bible reading. Yes, like working out or eating healthy, it comes down to the priority and importance of those things in our lives and whether or not they’re important enough to us. At the end of the day we will make time for the things that are most important to us in our lives. Though God is not a “thing” to be fit into our schedules, I believe it’s more than possible to make a place and priority in our lives for connection with him.
As we create space and make time to meet with God, we find our connection to him increasing and our intimacy and relationship with him growing. It’s in the word of God contained in the Bible and in prayer that we not only sharpen our senses to hear him better, but also feed our souls in a way nothing else can. I have yet to meet a person who has told me, “I’ve been spending time with God… and it did nothing for me.” Time with God allows us to renew our minds, strengthen our spirits, and fill up with more of God’s love and divine perspective when life tends to drain us. Understanding the need to be refreshed, maintain connection, and learn to hear what God is speaking to us is incredibly important. The two most prominent ways we hear God is through prayer and reading the Bible. Knowing that these two are so essential to the Christian life, it begs the question: “How do you maintain relationship, connection, and intimacy with God despite your busy life?”
There’s a fine line between putting God into our schedule and just doing “Christian stuff” in order to feel like we’ve checked a to-do box and feel more righteous, holy or have done our duty. I believe that fine line is a heart posture. Only we ourselves know if we’re doing something out of guilt or performance rather than truly desiring to make time for God. I’m talking about an ongoing, honest, real conversation with the only living God. Do you find it difficult to “just talk” with God regularly? Does prayer feel more like a task on your to-do list than a comfortable, open conversation? When I talk about Bible reading, I’m talking about reading a book that the Bible calls “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Hebrews 4:12). This means that when you read, God’s word changes and impacts you and his words are not just letters printed on a piece of paper.
One pastor I spoke to about what it looks like to incorporate God into his day said he does several things: the first being what he calls “shower time,” meaning that while he gets ready for work in the morning he uses his time in the shower to speak with God, he even has a waterproof Bible he keeps in there! Secondly, he makes it a point to keep the radio off on the way to work and instead uses that time to pray. Furthermore, he and his wife even make sure to stay connected with each other by finding at least 15-20 minutes out of the week that are dedicated to just touching base with one another and praying together. Another person I asked about incorporating God into their day told me they’re absolutely an evening person because they’re more awake and therefore can hear God better when spending time with him. But despite their preference for evening, find that with a family of four, they have to make it a priority in the morning or they just won’t get time at all. And yet another person who spoke about their time with God, maintained they have to get creatively intentional as they travel a lot and are on the road often. Reading the Bible on an iPad because they make time while flying, or listening to Scripture in their car through the Bible App on the way to a meeting. A full time student I asked about incorporating prayer into her day said her rhythm looks like reading the devotional Jesus Calling around 12 at night, but also has a notification on her phone that goes off at 11:45 pm to remind her to read her Bible app. As far as praying, she takes time to do that while driving in her car. Lastly, I asked a stay-at-home parent how they make time for God in their life. Though they admitted it was the hardest season to try and find time to do that, they felt there was grace despite the lack of time. It looked like putting on worship while folding laundry, or choosing to know that they could change diapers or give baths while maintaining an awareness of God’s presence. And if you’ve ever raised two kids under the age of three, you know you can’t do it without prayer. As you can tell, there are many ways to pray and read the Bible, you’ve got to just find the best way that works for you in your season of life.
I personally incorporate time with God in many different ways. Most often I start my day with a Bible plan I’m currently reading through in my Bible app. It keeps me on board with a theme, like something I’m dealing with in that particular season. I might follow that up with worship music on my way to work, often singing truth and words in the music straight from Scripture. Many times I’m praying before I step into meetings, praying with those I’m meeting with, or even praying with my two boys at home when I put them down for bed. Other times it’s just a cry for help, a simple prayer of thanksgiving, or a prayer of protection if I’m sensing fear or feeling afraid. Sometimes it’s reading Scripture with my wife before we go to bed, or praying together before we go to sleep. Often I’ll look and see what the “scripture of the day” is in the Bible app and use the themes of that verse to focus on throughout the day when I pray. For example, today’s selected scripture is Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.” I’ll take that piece and focus on Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins. I let that scripture be at the center of my prayer.
I also take one day a month I call a “solitude day” centered around the idea of Jesus in Matthew 26:36 and Matthew 6:6, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’” “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Jesus often withdrew from even the disciples to get time alone with God, the Father. It’s in that space you’re able to rest in his presence, push the world out and be refreshed by him. In a life that finds most of us constantly pouring out, it’s this intentional time that leaves me sane and with something to give. My solitude days look like incorporating different kinds of prayer and allows me to focus my heart and mind on many aspects of God’s character in new ways. Like the writer of Psalms says in chapter 77 verse 12, “I will also meditate on all your work, And talk of your deeds.” Some of the types of prayer I focus on are prayers of thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6, Luke 18:43, John 11:41) , intercession (Ephesians 1:15-18, John 17:15, II Thessalonians 1:11), protection (Ephesians 6:10-18), and petition (Matthew 18:19-20).
Sometimes I don’t realize it until later, but when praying for something, God has often already revealed it in the scripture I’m reading! Sometimes when I’m talking (praying) with God, it’s a prayer of contemplation about what lies ahead, prayer about commitments in my life and what I’m giving my time to, or simply asking God what he’s doing and partnering with him in prayer for that. Lastly, and in my opinion most powerfully, is corporate prayer. Gathering with my life group in my home and praying together or with others at my church carries immense power, perhaps creating a far reaching outcome we may not even be aware of. When we pray for something together, there’s strength in that. When we pray for each other, there’s often strength and healing in that.
In Luke 18:1 it says, “Then he spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” There’s something about learning to pray consistently and often that results in us being able to persevere despite what life throws at us. The learning how to “pray consistently and often” part becomes the biggest challenge for us. Author and Life Coach Michael Warden gives his advice on how to let prayer stick consistently. He says that our daily habits we’ve already created are a great place to start. When life coaching and getting people to incorporate new habits, the best way is to start by attaching them to an already existing one. For example, if you get up and make coffee every morning, make your coffee time a time that you pray or read the Bible. If you do laundry every day, or go for a walk, or sit on the toilet (I’m kidding, but not really), or any daily activity you do, you can find a way to incorporate God into that. After all, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I believe it’s in the intentional thought and connection that we do anything which can be used as a prayer or time with God. So give it a shot, what have you got to lose?! I can confidently say that any time invested into our relationship with God, is time best spent. It’s like a river that runs through all aspects of your life, refreshing and nourishing to every facet. Prayer and the Bible are two things that the Holy Spirit uses to transform us, and he can quite literally change us for the better.
Phillipians 1:3-4: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you with all joy.”