Sunday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the questions, “What kind of prayer life do you have? How much time do you spend in the Word of God? What are ways you can make your devotional time more meaningful and life-changing? However important that we spend time in prayer and reading the Word, time alone isn’t the only element. What other factors are needed?”
I do not pretend to be an authority on these topics, but I will attempt to answer these questions personally.
First question: What kind of prayer life do you have? I have learned that every breath can be a prayer. I have learned that just because I say “amen” the prayer does not need to end. I talk to God about everything. I ask Him to help me find eternal life while contemplating the themes of life, but when at the grocery store I ask Him to help me find the enchilada seasoning mix. I have learned to not only pray before reading the Bible, I also pray before reading any book. I pray for God to help me find anything that will make me a useful better person. I have also learned that when someone calls and asks you to pray for them, that they want you to pray with them right there on the phone-now. I have learned to pray in restaurant parking lots, Wal-Mart isles, and anywhere I am with people who are asking for prayer. Sure I will pray later, but these people want prayer now.
How much time do you spend in the Word of God? My job as a Bible Instructor requires I spend a lot of time in God’s Word, but that is not why I do it. I want to stay in a relationship with Christ. I haven’t always been a Bible Instructor. For a couple of years, in Fort Worth, Texas I worked at UPS from 3 to 8 AM every morning and then went straight to my day job from 8:30am to 5 or 6pm or later. My schedule tore me away from a lot of things, but I was determined it was not going to tear me away from God. I often hear people say they are too busy to study the Bible and pray, but my attitude was that if life was too hectic to spend time in God’s Word then life had just defeated its purpose! Everything else is meaningless without God so why let it take you away from God? I had my Bible with me all the time. I read it first thing in the morning at 2AM. I had it with me on breaks and lunch hours. I had the Bible on CD in my car. What I would have given to have had it on my cell phone back then like I do now! (Today you can get the Bible and Sabbath School lessons on your cell phone.) I want to share something very important right here. My parents raised us with having family worship every day. If we had guests, they were invited to join us, but we never skipped it. If we were visiting family or friends we had it in their home. I believe my sister and I are still in a relationship with Christ today because of this foundation. I think this is something we need to hear a lot more about. We go on and on about Christian education and good church schools which are great. However, I am convinced that Christian Education often takes credit for what was going on in the home. Fact is, many and I mean many kids who attend Christian schools leave God once they are out of school if they were ever with God at all. The kids who attend church school and stay with Christ were also having family worship like my family was. I do not mean to take away from Christian schools, but we need to give credit where credit is due, and I believe family worship needs to be preached in our church as a necessity even above placing your kids in Christian schools.
What are ways you can make your devotional time more meaningful and life-changing? I have always enjoyed having special places where I meet with God. In Fort Worth I loved going to the Japanese Gardens in the Botanical Gardens. Here I love going to the parks on the river or by the bay. It also becomes more meaningful and life changing when I share the relationship I have with God with others too. I love to write or blog or even just post statuses on Facebook about what God is teaching me. If you are not as transparent as I am and a little more private, then try just writing in a journal for personal reference. Many Bible apps for your cell phone provide opportunities to make notes. Even if you don’t want to share what you are learning with the whole world, share with somebody.
However important that we spend time in prayer and reading the Word, time alone isn’t the only element. What other factors are needed?” I remember a while back going door to door, asking people if they wanted Bible studies, and I met a lady who told me she reads four chapters a day. To me, that sounded a little legalistic. I don’t use a stopwatch when spending time with friends and I don’t use one while spending time with God either. Yes, there is a lot to spending time with God, but sometimes it is better to read a small passage and mediate to get the whole meaning, than it is to read several chapters and not comprehend any of it. Sometimes you can just let one phrase soak in. For example, in Genesis 12:3, God tells Abraham “in thee (his seed) shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Take some time and let that soak in. How has every single family in the world from Adam to today been blessed by the seed of Abraham? How have atheist families been blessed? How have families suffering from physical and sexual abuse been blessed? How were families who were born and died in slavery blessed by Abraham’s seed? You will be begin to sense the power of the cross as you let that short phrase really sink in instead of just quickly skimming over it on your quest to read several chapters.
Again another important element is sharing with others. This is where Sabbath School comes in. Small groups are fun and educational too. One on one Bible studies are helpful as well. If you would like to find out how you can become involved in a Sabbath school class, small study group, or one on one Bible studies, please contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net I would love to hear from you!