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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Its a daily thing

For 62 days, I've devoted myself to spending time in solitude with God for between 2-3 hours a day. Today is day 38. For 37 of 38 days, I set apart time to spend with God, but yesterday, I didn't.

In the morning, I went to a prayer meeting that we recently started at our church. We prayed for the city, the church, and for the people within our church for nearly 3 hours. This used to be sufficient in the past. I've had friends visiting from Europe and the Mid-West this weekend, birthday parties to attend, and just a general exhaustion from the week's activities. I've been noticing more however, that time "around" God is no longer enough.

In the past, I used to live with the mentality that as long as I was around God doing things like going to church, participating in Bible studies, attending worship services, and going to church retreats, that it was enough. I would generally pray at church or when someone/I was going through a rough time, and always before meals. This, I thought, filled the "relationship with God" meter.

In my walk with God, I've noticed that He was always enough, but I never really felt like I had enough of Him. Its like I'm addicted to something that won't give me any cavities, yet fills my belly with goodness. But the more time I've spent with Him in depth and in consistency, the more I realized that the reason I never felt like I've had enough of Him was because He has so much more to offer than I keep realizing. A relationship with God is like opening up your eyes for the first time and walking through the movie Avatar. The more you explore, the more fascinating He becomes. The sad thing is, we have a great temptation to just settle in a safe area, tear down the trees, and build walls to prevent us from truly experiencing all that He has to offer.

As I spend time in prayer alone (I believe corporate prayer is necessary too), I am realizing the greater need to engage in deliberate meditation upon God's nature and character. It is in His nature and character that we continue to find understanding in the world and love for other people. In is in His nature that we can accept His sovereignty and in His character that we can accept His grace. And through meditation, meaning I spend time trying to see God through the Bible, dwelling on various passages and verses, I see the perfect goodness of God.

The reason we need to do this is because if we don't, we end up meditating on the most random things. Early on in my faith, I would begin by trying to meditate on the goodness of God and somehow ended up thinking about how a piece of gum once got stuck in my hair. The scriptures provide you with an anchor by which you can float around the surface of the ocean that is God without deviating from who He is.

So what do I do?

I wake up, calm my mind and clear my thoughts of any desire of my own. I empty myself of my own will and then spend time reading the Psalms.

In the Psalms, I carefully read the entire Psalm once to get an idea of the trajectory of the Psalm, then go back to read each verse, one at a time, beginning to pray them if they seem to make an impression on me.

I usually find one or two verses that seem to stand out amongst the passage and I take about 2-3 minutes just asking God to reveal what they mean to me, and then sit in silence reciting the verse in my head over and over. Many times, I stand up and walk around in circles to help me focus better.

After, something usually happens where I see how God has been faithful in the way the verse describes in my life or how it gives me hope for the future and allows me to rest in Him in the present. I find a sort of peace through a greater knowledge of God in general and particularly in my life.

Then I pray, thanking God for all He is and all He does, and then go into a time of confessing my sins and asking God to make everything right on this Earth, meet my needs, and the needs of people I know - which usually entails allowing us to see more of God and understanding who we are as His children.

One thing I am certain of though. If I miss a day, I feel like I lost a day. Something no longer feels right when I don't spend time with God alone. It's becoming more and more precious to me that I have begun to arrange my social life around it. I don't go out as much, but find that I engage with people on a much more meaningful way. I don't think about things that don't really seem to add anything to life because there is SO much to think about God and then some. I find myself praying constantly throughout the day just asking God to help me see what He wants me to see. And all this happens in a state of joy, not anxiety, peace, not worry.

I want to challenge whoever reads this to do this on their own. I promise that what you don't know about God will amaze and what you learn about God will make you want more. After all, that happens with everything that seems to be good in this world. Take an hour out of your day and just meditate on God's word and pray to Him for a month. He answers prayers, I promise!

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