Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Refueling Your Soul: Time Alone With God by Thumper

Refueling Your Soul: Time Alone With God
by Charles F. Stanley
Have you lost your spiritual motivation and drive? Has ministering to the needs of others become a chore rather than the joy it once was? Do you feel bored at church? If so, you may need to renew your commitment to spend time alone with God.
Jesus knew that time alone with the Father was essential. As busy as our Savior was with His mission, He often withdrew to pray. In those private and intimate moments, Christ found strength for what He knew lay ahead.
Many believers call these one-on-one meetings with God "quiet times" or "devotions." They are a basic ingredient in a maturing relationship with the Lord. Quiet times change our approach to God from intellectual, detached, and "religious" to relational. When we give Him an opportunity to do so, the Father will speak to us through His Word and times of prayer in a real, personal way.
One by-product of a strong devotional life is a heightened sense of accountability to God. Spending time regularly with Him is strong motivation to keep sins confessed and bad habits in check. It is also a powerful incentive to resolve broken or damaged relationships. Holding a grudge against someone makes it impossible to have genuine intimacy with the Father.
When We Don't Draw Near to God
As with any relationship, communication is the key to knowing the Lord better. Where there is no communication, there can be no relationship. Where there is no relationship, there can be no trust. And the less you trust someone, the harder it is to follow that person. So a Christian with no devotional life generally struggles to have faith and obey the Lord.
Christ came not only to reconcile all people to God (2 Cor. 5:18-20), but also to establish oneness between mankind and Himself. Without a devotional life, the relational side of the Christian faith fades away.
Practical Steps for Effective Quiet Times
Here are some things that make my devotional life richer:
1. Schedule time with God. Like anything else you intend to do, devotional time usually won't happen unless it is planned. How often have you said to a friend, "Hey, let's get together," but failed to follow through? If you are like me, those plans seldom materialize. When I'm serious about getting together with someone, I make an appointment.
Specifically, before you go to bed, try to decide on a time and place to be alone with the Father the next day. Personally, I find mornings to be the best time to meet with God. I enjoy getting up early and beginning my day listening to and talking with Him. There is something extraordinary about focusing on the Father first thing.
2. Choose a place. If possible, conduct your quiet time in the same location every day. Eventually, this spot will take on special significance. Being there will affect your mood and your ability to concentrate. It will create an attitude of expectancy in your spirit.
Choose a place off the beaten path of your daily activities. It may be a spare bedroom, your living room, or even a closet. You need a place where the only thing you do there is meet with God.
I know a man whose special place is under the stairs in his house. A college student I know pulled his bed away from the wall and made that his spot. For me, it is a corner in my study at home. No matter where you live, you can find a spot to be alone with God.
3. Use a variety of methods. People often tell me that their personal devotions have become dry, routine, or even boring. God is certainly not uninteresting. And chances are, you are not dull either. So if spending time with Him becomes monotonous, the culprit is probably your method. The cure is to modify your routine.
For example, if you've been reading a devotional book, put it down, and instead, journal your thoughts and prayers. If you've been following a plan for reading through the entire Bible, take a break and read straight through one book of your choice. If you have been praying, supplement your prayers by memorizing Scripture. If your devotions have turned into in-depth Bible studies, find a devotional book to lighten things up for a while. Remember, this is a relationship. Look for ways to keep it fresh, and your quiet times won't become stale.
Adapted from "Charles Stanley's Handbook for Christian Living," 1996, p. 500-503.

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