Shorter Devotions On Purpose
What if long quiet times with God are not always the highest good?
I have this great morning routine, everything I’m supposed to get done from 5AM to 9AM… but the problem is, that after a few minor items–like waking up–the morning starts with Bible reading, journaling, and prayer. Problem? Yes. It becomes a problem when it becomes too introspective, and pushes out courage and time to take action on what I learn in the quiet place. My natural way is to journal for hours. And while I love it, …I just can’t swing that every day.
God has called me to be in the center of my home. To be present with my family. And also to stewarding my other talents well. How to proceed with the balance between good stewardship of time, and soaking in the Spirit? We need to be good managers of those morning times. For me, the “margins” of my day are pretty much the only times I have to work on the things that require solitude and intense focus. Because I am a homeschooling mother of five, the bulk of the day is spent in ministering to my children.
I have given up my night owl ways, in fact, because I have realized that even though there is major resistance to getting up, the rewards of morning productivity are great. But where does the time go? I find that even with an early-bird mindset, I am not always that productive. And yet–isn’t time with the Lord ALWAYS productive? I have been taught that time with God is never wasted. That if you have eleven hours in which to accomplish something, you should spend ten of them in prayer. I’m not saying that is wrong for everyone, but I have found out–that is wrong for me, in this season.
All of life is the Lord’s, not just my “quiet times,” which I happen to love more than some other things. He requires not only time to be in his presence, He calls us to discipline, wisdom, and faithfulness in all areas. In all the small things. Washing dishes is just as holy as reading the Psalms–depending on where your spirit is. The verse that illustrates this best for me, which I have taken as one of my life verses is Zechariah 14:20 (NLT)
On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: Holy to the LORD. And the cooking pots in the Temple of the LORD will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar.
My house is the temple of the Lord. My body is the temple of the Lord. His presence is here; His presence has burst out of the most holy place and permeated my life, down to the last bent fork in the back of the drawer. It’s all His. I am holy. My sweeping the floors is holy. My washing my hair and wiping little noses and cooking eggs are sacred activities.
My years and years of long devotion times may not have even been productive at all. I mean, I did hear. I did learn. I did soak. But I also did a great deal of wondering “why” and crying out to the Lord, and asking for answers and asking for help, when more answers may have been found by putting my God-drenched hands and brains into action. As my good friend Holly has so often said, “God can’t steer a parked car!”
I actually used to argue this in my mind: Yes, He CAN steer it. He can PUSH the car or set it on a downhill slope! This says a lot about the way I thought. I wanted to wait for God to move me, because action–and my own power to act upon my destiny–were unfamiliar to me. We are all learning. And part of personal growth for an ENFP (see the Myers-Briggs types here) is to learn how to lean more toward that scary thing called action and sit less in that comfortable place of analysis.
And I finally found a way to do it: I do my morning devotions standing up. I stand at the high counter overlooking my kitchen. Bible reading, a bit of journaling, praying for others and the day, praying with my husband, and speaking my declarations. And now it only takes me 30–45 minutes. Which still sounds like a long time, but it is so much shorter than it used to be, and I can enjoy it without neglecting it altogether with the excuse that “it takes too long.”
It is cold out there in the kitchen in the winter mornings at 6AM. It is uncomfortable. I would rather go into the warm office room and sit down in my comfy office chair and curl up and do what I do naturally: analyze. But this over-processing can cause imbalance, stagnation, and self-sabotage in a lot of ways. When I stand in the cold in my purple bath robe, I might look like an oversized, frozen plum that is simply trying to defrost, but I am actually blessing God and disciplining myself in an intentional way. The cold and the standing discourage me from processing too much. I understand much better now the traditional cold stone church. The kneeling. It keeps people aware and awake.
This car is now moving. Slowly, bumpily, perhaps, and I may stall every day and take a bunch of wrong turns. But at least it’s moving! To the adventure!
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