One of the areas that I’ve been working on over the last year is spending quality time with God. This goes beyond just worship during normal weekend services, or prayer times each day. I try, twice a month, to mark 6-8 hours (at least) to spend time alone with God. From a previous post on “How to Recharge in Ministry” I received a great question on what that looks like specifically for me. We are all busy, have a million things going on, and so I thought it might be useful to process the practical way in which I try to spend that much time in a focused manner.
Here are the practical steps I take when I’m spending that time along:
- Take only the necessary items – For me this includes my laptop, my journals (blog post of how I journal) and my phone. I don’t take any books, study helps, etc. but take enough that as my mind races to different things I have what I need to mentally process things only once.
- Don’t go with an agenda – If I go into my time with a specific agenda, because I’m task oriented, I can blow through time I should be spending with the Father in a matter of minutes or at most an hour or two. If I approach the time with an open agenda and allow God to build the agenda as I go I find that a few hours is never enough.
- Mentally process things once – My mind races when I try to spend time with God, especially when I first start out. Processing things once is a fairly common productivity tip that tells you to only touch tasks once. Too often we think of something and then have to think about it frequently before it gets done. At its basic form, if an idea, thought or task comes to my mind I want to be able to get it out of my mind as quickly as possible without having to remember it later. It wants mental cycles to think about it and try to remember it, why it was important, etc. The key, for me for this, is to WRITE IT DOWN. It doesn’t matter what your system is, but HAVE A SYSTEM. I use a paper journal and an electronic todo system.
- Journal your dialogue with God – Have a dialogue with God, through prayer, and write down your question or thought and what you heard. If you were meeting with the President, or the Mayor wouldn’t you have a paper and pencil, or have some way to record the conversation? Do the same thing with God. Some of the greatest answers to prayer I’ve received was through journaling a dialogue of prayer. For me this starts out what a normal journal might look like and then moves to questions that I’m wrestling with and then I write down what I believe God is saying about that.
While I’m still “perfecting” how I do this, I find the time incredibly useful and productive. The more I focus on this time, and look forward to it, I believe the more useful I am in between these longer meetings with God.
I pray that you the time as well – I highly recommend it.