The prayer request I hear most often is, “pray that I’ll read my Bible and spend more time with God.” I’ve prayed the same many times.
There’s a woman who asked me repeatedly to pray the same. She said she wasn’t disciplined enough to take time to read her Bible. “I know I should, but I don’t.” “I know I’m selfish. I do what I want,” she told me on several occasions.
In a way she’s like an alcoholic who must admit they’re an alcoholic before they can discover freedom to change. I saw strength in her honesty, but sadness that she is content to live a life that doesn’t include intimacy with God.
Over the years, she didn’t hesitate asking me to pray for her and the situations that were taking place in her life. She believed in prayer and that God answers. She knew where her help could come from; “the maker of heaven and earth.” Nevertheless, her preference was for someone else to pray for her. Psalm 121:2
The time came and I finally mustered up the courage to tell her what I thought on many occasions. “I don’t need to pray the same thing over-and-over. If you want a heart to spend time with God you’ll do it. I can’t do it for you,” I repeated.
God hears the prayers of his children, but the peace of God that surpasses understanding comes from our personal relationship with Jesus Christ; not on the relationship of another.
I have other friends who rise at 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning to spend time with God. I put a plan in place to do the same. Months passed and I didn’t follow through on what I was saying I wanted to do. Primarily because I didn’t want to do it. I said I wanted to, but my heart was saying, “No way am I getting up that early!”
I tried and when I continued to succumb to my fleshly desire to sleep, I had this overwhelming guilt that a good Christian rises early in the morning to pray.
I preferred having my quiet time in the evening, but the pressure I put on myself to do it in a way that appeared more pleasing to God and more holy did nothing but pour guilt on me and a continual sense of spiritual frustration and defeat.
I finally changed my attitude and stopped setting unrealistic expectations how my walk with God should look and that it should look like someone else’s. However my time with God looks, the Bible tells us that “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 Darby Translation states “Better is a patient spirit than a proud spirit.”
I never looked at this verse from the perspective when I choose my schedule over God’s that I’m being arrogant. It’s a selfish pride that puts my desires above Gods.
Whether we take time seeking God through prayer and reading our Bible morning, noon, or night, we must recognize that we need God and his guiding hand in our lives. We need him continually, not sporadically. If we want strength for each day, guidance on what to do when decisions need to be made, we need to seek God whole heartedly. Nobody can do it for us.
The Bible talks about being double-minded. What I say I want to do and what I do are often in conflict. I’m giving lip service to God. “Lip service” means “to publicly support or approve of something while taking no action to produce it.” (Cambridge Dictionary)
Isaiah talked about judgement because the people were just going through the motions serving God. “Because this people draw near with their words and honor me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from me, and their reverence for me consists of traditions learned by rote.” Isaiah 29:13
There’s no such thing as too much time with God and there isn’t one rule of thumb to say it’s necessary to carve out a specific amount of time each day. The key is to start giving some of your time to be with God and from it, you’ll begin to desire more of him.
The Message states, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish …” Philippians 1:6
If this blog is a devotional for you and a way you can read scripture, I encourage you to take a few extra moments and ponder the verses that are included. Ask God how you can apply his Word to your day. God’s children flourish best when they commit to knowing him and serving him through times of worship and prayer. May every day you spend with Jesus bring you to a “flourishing finish.” Enjoy God and finish well.
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate … I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway … I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind. Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord … Romans 7:14-25