For most of my adult life, finding quiet time with the Lord was a goal, but not a priority. I thought that it was enough to want to spend time with the Lord, even though I rarely found that time, and usually it was motivated by guilt rather than an actual desire to spend time with Him.
Recently, however, in the last year or so, I had that breakthrough in my life, and my ability to experience the presence of the Lord is somehow heightened. It was right after I had my second child, in an awakening service that the Lord came and brought deliverance to some areas of my life (you can read about it in a previous post if you like).
From that place of freedom, I have had a growing hunger for the Lord and hoping for time with the Lord is no longer acceptable. I MUST have time with Him! Some days I feel like I will cry if I don't just get away and have a few minutes with the Lord and hear from Him. It is a new reality for my Christian life, and although I still don't always 'feel' Him, I know He is there and I know that spending time with Him is key to 'feeling' Him more in the long run.
Everything I have ever read, and any note-worthy Christian teachers say this is what Christianity should look like. We should want to love the Lord above all others, we should want to spend time enough that we make time for Him, and we should notice the lack of His presence if we haven't been giving Him our attention and time.
What is kind of scary is that I use to be in ministry, considering myself 'called' by the Lord to do His work, and what is even more scary is that He would show up and encounter people when I would pray or work or evangelize. I look back now and see that I was doing ministry in His name, but I didn't really know the Lord. It was like I had had a few cool encounters in my Christian walk, and I remembered the way God felt and moved, but I hadn't felt it in a long time. In fact, when I moved to Kansas City almost 4 years ago, I had been working in a church and I was so dead inside, that when I got around people who were going hard after God, I thought they were a bunch of weirdos. I look back now and see with a sad heart that if the Lord had allowed me to remain in that place I would have been one of the ones in Matthew 7:22-23:
'Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.'
I didn't really know Him in that season, but I was working hard in His name...
I was convinced that you didn't have to run that hard after God, He would just somehow find you throughout your day and you would just someone know Him. It has been so long since I had felt the tangible presence of the Lord that I had forgotten what it felt like. It was in that early season in Kansas City that the Lord began to encounter me in dreams, and it was the beginning of my journey to awakening to the reality of my own soul.
I had been mostly dead in religion for years and as the Lord began to wake me up, He taught me how to love Him better.
First off, He showed me how to learn to love the Word - it is not always a natural response to do so. So I had to ask Him for it, and ask Him, and when I was feeling bored reading the Word, I would ask Him again, to make it come alive to me.
It eventually kicked in and now I am passionate about the Word for the first time in my life, but the key for me was realizing that it was not necessarily natural to love it first thing, but to ask for love toward His Word.
Secondly, He taught me that spending time with Him is key! Oh my goodness, I could right a whole blog about the importance of this discipline in the Christian life.*
How do you get to know someone you have never met before? How do you make friends with someone you were just introduced to? You call them up in the coming days and weeks and talk to them. You get together for lunch and make arrangements in your schedule to include them on major occasions. Your best friends, well you probably talk to them almost every day if not every day, and you make a lot of one on one appointments/calls.
So then how can we say Jesus is our best friend if we haven't talked to Him all week, or how can we say that we are His friend if we only call to talk about our day, our needs, or ask our selfish favors of Him.
Quantity does not matter as much as the quality of the time, and your flexibility is also helpful. Don't try to set aside just one hour a day and that's all He gets. If Holy Spirit is talking to you, then try to find some extra time to sit and listen to what He has to say. Being too busy is not a good excuse. I have two babies, a house to keep and a job that I work 20 hrs a week at, and I still try to tithe my time, that is 18 hrs a week**, to the Lord. Not all of it is one on one, and it doesn't always look like that, but it is my goal and I try to stick to it as best as I can, some weeks its less and sometimes its a bit more. Make a goal.
Well, I didn't intend this to be an instructional thing, but these are a couple of the important things that I have learned in the last year, and it is amazing that I have gone from a place where I relied solely on others to feed me the Word and the things of God, to where now I get just as much of a 'feeding' from a 20 min. prayer time on my own as I do on some Sunday mornings.
When I take the time to meet with Him daily, I learn more and more what His voice sounds like, and I find its so much easier to follow His leadership because I've become use to His style. I also trust Him more, because I know Him for myself (to some degree, it's a life long journey) and don't have to just rely on others to tell me what He is like.
Well, so I say all of this as an encouragement that if you haven't been finding time to spend with the Lord, it is so important that you do. Our very lives depend on knowing Him and recognizing His voice, and how can I know His voice if I haven't talk to Him in three days!
Make time for Him and His Words. You won't be disappointed. I'm loving this season of learning.
*If you feel what I have said is nothing more than religious rules, then I'm afraid you are probably where I was for years. I've learned since then that we are called to be holy, and that living a life of discipline done with a heart of love for God is not religion, but can become religious if done in the wrong spirit/motive. A fear of having a religious spirit however is not a reason to throw off discipline and healthy guidelines completely, it is only a warning to keep your heart in tune with the Lords. Ask Him what He thinks about things, I'm pretty sure He's going to say some of the same things He's already said to me about how to live a holy life.
**I say this with almost no pride, because most days it is super hard and I know there are other people who are just as busy if not busier than I am, but I do know it is worth it, and setting goals for yourself is pretty key to starting a holy discipline in your life. Be encouraged that even though it is my goal to spend 18 hrs a week, on average I am only at about 65% of reaching that goal, still it is my goal and I sometimes have to sacrifice doing fun things to keep my times with the Lord. He never leaves me disappointed though sometimes I don't see the results of the sacrifice until later! And be of good cheer, when my ability fails, that is where His grace picks up.
Got questions? post 'em in my comments.