The world is loud. It pulls at you and demands much of you. The message it screams is inconsistent and in it you will find no hope.
For Christians, particularly those my age, we cannot be content to allow the world to be the loudest voice in our life. We cannot be satisfied to sit back and be influenced rather than being the influence. We cannot just wring our hands and fret over what we see.
Growing up in church I often heard those around me tell me the importance of having a “quiet time”. They would tell me how important it is to have a “quiet time” every day, to carve out some kind of time throughout my day to spend with God. Over and over again this was the message, but I was never really told what an effective “quiet time” entailed. I never understood why it was so important or what I was supposed to be getting out of it. I just knew I was supposed to do it.
For many years my “quiet time” was inconsistent and unfruitful. I knew I was supposed to read my Bible and pray but that was about it. I had no idea that there was so much power in the quiet moments or how important it was to me. I struggled with the concept and execution of prayer. Even more so, I was frustrated that I could never really see God moving or speaking to me. It wasn’t until a mentor gave me a prayer journal that I really started to see things change
Communion in the Quiet.
As I started with that first green, spiral bound prayer journal offering up my feeble prayers I started to see the Lord changing me. I started to see His Power working through my life, and I was amazed at how much was happening during my “quiet time”.
That’s when I stopped calling it a “quiet time”. That term, however popular, seemed so weak and silly to me. Daily I am meeting with the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth and we call it a “quiet time”? There was nothing quiet about my “quiet times” either. I would oftentimes find myself praying loudly to the Lord or exclaiming in awe as I read the Scriptures. I searched for another word, another term to use when referring to my daily meeting times with the Lord. I found communion:
COMMUNION: noun. 1. the act of sharing; possession in common; participation
2. the act of sharing one’s thoughts and emotions with another or other; intimate converse
3. an intimate relationship with deep understanding
For some reason, once I had that word in my arsenal I was able to understand the deep importance and preciousness of the time I spent in the Presence of the Lord. How amazing is it that we get to have communion with God!
Study to be transformed.
I think the biggest mistakes people make when they approach the Word is that they are looking for what they can get out of it. By doing that they miss the whole point of communing with God! The whole point of studying Scripture is so that the Lord can reveal Himself and His Character to You and in doing so transform your life into the likeness of His Son.
The whole point of studying Scripture is so that the Lord can reveal Himself and His Character to You and in doing so transform your life into the likeness of His Son.
So when we only want to get facts to impress our neighbors or nice sayings to hang on the wall we are selling ourselves short and we are crippling the work that the Lord can do in our lives. We are also ignoring the fact that a large part of the Christian life is the Lord giving us correction and disciplining us in ways that can make us uncomfortable. Why is it that we expect only happy things from the mouth of God when we can learn so much through His correction?
That is why we should not approach studying the Word as a frustrating chore, but with expectation that the Lord will speak to us. Personally, I can attest that every message, every act of correction, every challenge that the Lord has delivered into my life has come directly out of Holy Scripture. If you want to hear from God then you should be reading Scripture daily. But be warned, what you hear may not be particularly pleasant.
Pour out your heart.
I’m not shy about the fact that I have struggled with prayer. There have been seasons where I have even wondered about the effectiveness of prayer, but I know that I have been called to pray. Because of this command to pray that I pressed on despite the feeling that my words were just reverberating off my bedroom ceiling and accomplishing nothing.
But that green prayer journal changed things for me. Spoken words can be difficult for me, but I’ve never had a problem writing. I was able to collect my thoughts and pour out my heart in a way that I was unable to do before. As I went back and read past prayers, I was able to see a record of what the Lord had done in my life. I’m not saying that prayer journaling is the only effective way to pray. For some people it can become a crutch or a distraction that gets in the way, but for me it has opened the door to growth like nothing else can.
Invite and Record.
Even though, that first prayer journal was a breakthrough for me I was still struggling to keep a record of what the Lord had said to me. I knew what I was saying to Him because I was writing it down but that was it. Weeks would go by and I feel as if the Lord had said nothing to me despite my extensive prayer times and sitting in silence. I begged God to show me a way to truly hear from Him and know that it was Him.
And He did.
I am so incredibly thankful to Mrs. Joy Bolton, Executive Director to the Kentucky Women’s Missionary Union, because it was she who taught the method I now use to journal my encounters with the Lord. Every morning, Mrs. Joy takes her notebook, writes the reference to the passage of Scripture she studies, records what the Lord said to her through the Scripture, and then writes her prayer of response.
Every morning, Mrs. Joy takes her notebook, writes the reference to the passage of Scripture she studies, records what the Lord said to her through the Scripture, and then writes her prayer of response.
When I saw her explaining this method, it was as if the heavens had opened up in answer to my prayer. So now I follow in Mrs. Joy’s footsteps of faith. It is the simple act of writing down “What the Lord Said” at the top of my journal before I even open the Word that acknowledges the fact that I am expectantly waiting for the Lord to speak. It invites Him. Virtually every time I have prayerfully written those words down the Lord has spoken through His Word and I have recorded what He said. I do this by writing down the Scripture verses and passages, in their entirety, in my journal.
Discipline into Love.
I will not lie to you, cultivating a productive and consistent time of communion with the Lord is difficult. The natural inclinations of our hearts are not to wake up an hour early or commit to something that requires dedication.
So it requires discipline. It requires denying yourself something to be fully dedicated to the pursuit of God. When you first begin, you may find it arduous. Confess your struggles to the Lord. Admit that you don’t want to wake up early to commune with Him. Acknowledge the fact that you’d much rather be doing anything else. God is big enough to handle it because as you are honest with Him he will change the desires of your heart to match His.
Just prayerfully persevere.
Because gradually, not over night, you will find yourself falling in love with Scripture. You will find yourself wanting nothing more than to pour your heart to the Father. You will find yourself craving time at His feet. You will find yourself waking up each morning desiring nothing more than to commune with Him. And pretty soon, it will even become difficult to leave the quietness of your prayer closet.
Guard Your Time
Finally, dear friends, I pray that you do not let the pressures of commitments keep you from a fruitful walk with the Lord. I pray that you set aside time every day to commune with God and that you defend that time fiercely. When I am at school, I write down the time I plan to spend with the Lord in pen in my planner. Set an alarm on your phone. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you are daily spending significant time alone with the Lord.
Set your phone to Do Not Disturb.
Get your Bible.
Grab a pen.
And prepare for the Lord to completely transform you.