“After he (Jesus) had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23)
We all know that Jesus was a very social person and a hard worker. He celebrated with the community at a wedding, for example. He spent countless hours teaching and traveling in order to spread the Word far and wide. But He also knew the importance of spending time with God – especially time alone with God.
Clearly, as our role model, He was demonstrating to us that we should take that time with God too. But how many of us actually do it? If you’re like me, you have a lot of reasons (excuses?) for not dedicating time every single day to God. In fact, you might feel overwhelmed at the thought of “one more thing” to add to your day.
What could be more important than spending time with God? And yet, I find it continually gets pushed down to the bottom of the list. Here’s how to change that!
Make God a priority.
We say we love God and we want a relationship with Him but we just aren’t making time for it? Actions speak louder than words.
Here’s an exercise I have done with the attendees when teaching time management. Write out your schedule, showing how you spend your time for 3 typical days in a week. Now, make a list of the 10 things that are most important to you. Are those 10 things adequately represented in your schedule?
I now make my schedule based on those 10 things. I don’t try to squeeze in time with God after everything else. He is top priority. Other things are added around Him.
Make a place for it.
Find a space that is conducive to spending some uninterrupted time alone with God. This could be your office, the bathroom, your car, a closet – whatever it takes!
I have a “prayer basket” all set up and ready to go. In it, I have a Bible, a journal, pens (colored, because I like to color code things sometimes), stationery/greeting cards and stamps (in case I’m inspired to drop someone a note to let them know I’m praying for them), and my latest devotional book. I’ve also included a rosary, my holding cross, and a battery operated candle (you could use real but I’m afraid of causing a fire when I’m really engrossed in prayer).
The prayer basket allows me to move my quiet time location as needed. On a nice day, I might take it to the backyard. When my house is full of overnight guests, I might head to the local peace garden. I’ve even been known to take the basket with me to the school pickup line and use that waiting time productively.
Make time for it.
Not just any time though – the right time. Hmmm, that almost makes it sound complicated. I’m not trying to imply that there’s a right time and wrong time for being with God. What I am saying is that sometimes, trying to schedule it in at the right time for YOU, can be really helpful.
For example, I used to always hear that you should spend time with God first thing in the morning. “Always start your day with God!” But early morning is not the best for me. I wake up in pain and it takes me a bit to get going and to focus my mind. So, my time with God comes a little bit later.
You might have more luck if you scheduled it for after the kids are in bed. Or while they’re napping. Or maybe you can work out some time with your spouse – they take care of the kids for an hour while you have your time with God. Look at all of the “empty” times of day too. What about using your commute time? Or the time spent making dinner? Or doing the dishes? If you need to be hands free, you can always look at options like Christian podcasts, recorded books, even a recording of the Bible.
Make a plan.
Another roadblock that sometimes comes into play when we find it difficult to spend time with God is that we simply don’t know what to do! Do we just sit down and wait for God? Again, a podcast or recording could get things going. Or perhaps you want to pick out a devotional or Bible study to work through. Even just flipping open the Bible and reading a few passages can get the conversation started.
Obviously, prayer is an important part of God time too. In the past, this was another hurdle for me. I thought there were “rules” for praying. There are some models for prayer, but there are no rules. It’s simple a way of talking to God.
Share your day with Him. Tell Him what you’re worried about. Ask Him for help. If you don’t know how to get started, look to the traditional prayers – The Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary (no you don’t have to be Catholic to say it), and so on. Find a book of prayers or look for some online and choose your favorites. These don’t have to be seen as formulas for prayer – they can simply be warm-ups for you.
Make room for God’s voice.
Time with God isn’t meant to be one-sided. We need to be open to hearing Him speak to us too. This doesn’t always come as a spoken voice. We might read something and feel that it was written just for us. Or you might see something later in your day that is particularly meaningful to you. The more you can see results of your time with God, the more meaningful and important it becomes to you.