Every Tuesday, I go biking with a few high school friends. It helps me stay physically fit, build strength, and gain endurance. I know this is not enough but I try to walk around the neighborhood on other days for my exercise. Many people understand that their physical health is as good as what they put in. In the same way, I believe that our spiritual health depends much on our daily devotions. Worshiping God daily strengthens us in every possible way.
Just like in physical exercise, we know the importance of doing it, and yet so many don’t.
This is not a personal opinion. The scriptures teach that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and the Psalms have numerous examples of the need to take our requests to God in the morning before the day starts (Psalm 5:3, 119: 147-148).
I was talking to someone recently who wants to become healthier but doesn’t know how to start. There are also Christians who feel embarrassed to admit that they don’t know quite exactly where to start. Do I really need to pray every second of the day? What does that whole “without ceasing” thing actually mean? Am I supposed to sing? What about studying my Bible – is that considered worship…. and where do I start in actually reading my Bible?
If I may, let me share with you some things I have learned in life through the years.
The first step is this…take a deep breath (Smile). The fact that you are reading this article shows that your heart is in the right place.
First, let me ask this,: What does God desire the most from His children?
Relationship. He wants us to know that we are loved unconditionally. He desires that we see Him as our loving and caring Father. He wants us to have Jesus live in us (Galatians 2:20).
Just like our relationships within our families, it is meant to be enjoyable, not endured – and your time of worship with God, our Father, should be a reflection of your own uniqueness.
I say “uniqueness” because worship can be different for each person. For example, in the 1981 Chariots of Fire movie, Eric Liddell declares, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Consider that not everyone enjoys singing, or studying, or in the case of Eric Liddell…running. But when it comes to seeking a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, what we do desire is to know Him.
Let me start by giving a practical suggestion. A simple exercise that you can do. On your first day of daily worship, decide to consciously talk to God about your day. It may seem silly at first, but talk to Him about everything. Were there things that didn’t work well for you today? Tell Him about it. Something wonderful happened? Tell Him about that, too. Looking for a job? Tell Him about it. Heard someone is sick? Talk to God about it. The goal is to begin a conversation. Grant you, it may feel one-sided, but this is what “praying without ceasing” is all about. Imagine that God is your friend accompanying you all day, and enjoy the conversation. You don’t have to converse with God loudly. You can talk to Him in your thoughts. When our thoughts are on God all the time that is like “praying without ceasing.”
Here is another suggestion: Get a pen and paper and write Him a letter. Instead of “Dear Diary,” start out with “Dear God” and share your thoughts about the whole experience. The purpose of this exercise is to provide you a positive experience – a bit like having that nice coach walk you around the gym to get you oriented. They get you to try a few things and you realize that it’s not as difficult as you thought! Try doing this a few times a week and observe how it impacts you. This is your prayer journal with God.
After a few weeks, you hopefully are hungering for more. In Hebrews 6:1-8, we learn that we need to desire to grow. Wherever you currently are spiritually right now – God would like just a little bit more. When Paul wrote to a bunch of new Christians in Corinth, he talked about how he gave them milk and not roast beef because they are still growing (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
Here is a suggestion I find powerful: Go deeper and learn all you can about WHO God is. Again, you need to make this enjoyable. If you enjoy reading, this will be the easiest for you. The best way to start is to ask those in your Christian circles what their favorite book is that they would recommend for you to learn more about God. I love reading books and I read at least one book per month. Authors spend months and even years to put together their research, wisdom, and inspiration in a book. Most of them immerse their writings in daily contact with God. For a few dollars, you get to read all these. The library is also a good resource. Friends also have good books that they can lend you. Go to church and listen to spiritual messages prepared for you. Choose good friends who are positive influences to your life. It is time to blow the dust of your Bible and start a personal Bible study. It will be much better if you can join a small group Bible study.
Again, ask for recommendations from Christian friends and make it a point to enjoy the experience of learning more about God. In the midst of this, don’t stop with your journaling and speaking to God about the whole experience.
In conversations with many believers, here is what happens. When a daily time is set aside to focus on God, their schedule seems to become more efficient. They can’t imagine anymore not making the time.
Making the decision to set aside time is important but it’s not the amount of time, it is what it does for you. Some days the schedule doesn’t permit it. On those days, I try to just read even just a scripture to think about. There is always something new that God teaches us. For example, something as quick as “A kind word turns away wrath” is absolutely useful and a great reminder on how to deal with every situation with diplomacy and tact.
The biggest decision you will make as you decide to move into a deeper daily worship is the decision that you will not let the day go by without doing something – anything – to take your mind off yourself and on to God. I do use Facebook and Twitter. Whenever someone posts a beautiful quote, I stop even for a few seconds and meditate. When someone shares his/her challenges in life, it is time to pause and pray.
A few years ago, when my high school buddies decide to bike, it was not easy. We struggled with the actual biking and with our schedules. However, as time went on, biking has become a joy. It has become something we look forward to. When I bike, I feel His pleasure. God’s pleasure.
In the same way with worshiping God, the more you do it, the more you enjoy it. You will find that spending time to reflect on God will give you fulfillment and spiritual health.