Cultivating and protecting a vibrant and consistent “private” life with God is essential in the life of every Christian.
For the believer this SHOULD sound like a no brainer. No deep mystical revelation required. However, the reality is many of us live as though we can produce the kind of fruitfulness God has called us to without connecting with the one who called us in the first place.
Before I get too deep into this conversation I want to make point.
I am not blogging on this topic because I am some guru who has always possessed the perfect blue print for private devotional life.
I don’t wake up at 5am to the voices of cherubs singing sweet melodies as they lead me into my secret prayer chamber fully equipped with knee pillows, bluetooth speakers, half melted emo-candles, and an amazing cup of coffee.
Most of my life I have not identified as a “morning person” or even a pre-lunch time person. However, I do identify as a husband, a father, and most importantly a follower of Jesus and the truth is I came to the realization that I would not be very effective at any of those things unless I intentionally “abide in the vine”.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
– via www.bible.com
“Nothing” is NOT what I’m shoot for.
We were not made for “nothing”. We were made to bear much fruit.
In order to accomplish this we must abide in Christ. We must intentionally fellowship with God in prayer, in worship, and the reading of His word. Knowing God and being known by God is the greatest treasure we could ever receive, so let us treat it as such.
What you protect is what you ultimately value.
You protect your money.
You protect your family.
You protect your smart phone.
You protect your thursday nights to watch #Scandal or your every other night (like me) for the NBA playoffs.
Why would we not protect our time with God?
Last week I began the conversation about the importance of cultivating and protecting “private” time in the presence of God in a blog titled “Protecting Your Privates”.
There are many ways to cultivate a great devotional life and several other strategies of how to schedule such. One of my favorite books on the matter is by Bob Sorge titled “Secrets of the Secret Place: Keys to Ignitiing Your Personal Time with God”. It is an incredible book that I would recommend to every believer. In that book, Bob (cause we’re cool like that…not really…well, not yet anyway) lays out 52 SECRETS!!! Spread it out over the course of the year and BAMM!
In this blog I am going to glean from that book as well as other life experience to share 3 tips I have found useful in protecting my private time.
This timeless idea of meeting with God in the morning is timeless because…it works. My morning with my family, the start to my work day, and my kingdom awareness throughout the day is so enhanced when I’ve started by engaging with God.
My pastor, Russ Austin, is the one who first got me chanting this mantra in my sleep. It started with him challenging me to pick an early enough time to get up so that I can engage with God, get in a good workout, and get ready for the day before my kids wake up and the day “begins”.
It completely improved my day!
However, I quickly found that the true key to #WinTheMorning is to “win the night”. It’s amazing how easy it is to wake up at 6am when you go to bed at 10pm instead of staying up watching a Netflix marathon (that Daredevil though), playing Xbox One, or just staying up doing whatever “cuz I’m grown”.
Putting our time with God at the top of the day protects it from being crowded out by all the STUFF of the day.
Being that I am legally blind in a few states, the first thing I do in the morning is put on my glasses so that I can see and don’t fumble around in the darkness. In the same way, engaging with God first thing in the morning allows us to see properly so that we don’t waste time fumbling around in the darkness.
2. Shut The Door
I get this one from my good friend Bob Sorge (serisouly though Bob…let’s be friends). He got it from…well…God of course.
Matthew 6:6 (ESV)
6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
– via www.bible.com
The reason we have to protect our time with God is because life will try to crowd it out. We want to engage our private times with God with undistracted devotion, not undevoted distraction. It’s amazing how many random things begin flooding our minds for attention when we try to focus our hearts and minds on God. I really love the way C.S. Lewis puts it in his book “Mere Christianity” :
“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in
listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
We must “shove” back every worry and every smartphone notification. We must shut the door on every distraction, come into the secret place, and enjoy being present in the presence of God.
Now I know you may be thinking, “wait a minute Jon, I thought this was supposed to be tips to ‘protect’ my private time, not things to do when I am in it”.
Sometimes, even when we “shut the door” it can still be challenging to plug in and connect with God.
The quickest way I’ve found to connect has been to open up my mouth and begin singing to God…telling Him how great He is…thanking Him for His loving kindness…and lifting His name above every thought and distraction. When we sing to God we set our hearts, our minds, and our physical bodies toward Him.
It’s doesn’t have to be a “whole song”. It doesn’t have to be a recorded song. SING A NEW SONG!
As a song writer, my best songs have been birthed out of my private time with Jesus. My friend Roma Waterson calls it “singing in the secret place before it reaches the marketplace.” As a worship leader, it’s these moments of singing to Jesus in private that fuel our passion to help others experience the joy of being in His presence.
Whether you are a worship leader or not, singing to God is an excellent way to shut out distraction and place our focus on Him. It announces in your soul and in the atmosphere…
He is here. He is worthy. I am available. Have your way.
As I said before, those are just a few of the ways that I find helpful to protect and cultivate a vibrant private life with Jesus. I would love for you to share some of your ideas below in the comment section. Whatever ways you choose to protect your time with God remember this: