The prophet Amos described the Lord as one who “reveals his thoughts to man” (Amos 4:13). Communication is a fundamental part of God’s nature. Though He dwells in unapproachable light and no eye can see Him (1 Timothy 6:16), our Heavenly Father is loving and He wants us to know Him! Creation itself contains a certain level of Divine communication (Psalm 97:6! Despite this channel of communication, a personal, private time of worship is perhaps the best way of experiencing fellowship with the Lord. Jesus promoted private worship to His disciples, saying, “What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops” (Matthew 20:27). In the first century, rabbis often whispered in their pupils ears as the novices debated and instructed others in the fine points of the Torah. Jesus used that circumstance as a metaphor. Disciples are to continually listen to and learn from Jesus. Do you have a plan for daily hearing from Him? Consider three more tips for a daily devotional time:
Don’t get stuck in a rut, don’t think you’ve got to do the same thing every time, and don’t beat yourself up when life gets too busy for personal worship. When I was a younger Christian, I struggled to keep the right perspective in this regard. I saw private worship as a failure if I didn’t read a specific number of chapters in the Bible, and if I didn’t pray for a certain number of minutes. If I missed my daily quiet time, I felt depressed and I falsely believed that God was displeased with me. Eventually, I became disgusted and disheartened. I’m thankful that some older mentors taught me to be flexible. I once had a friend encourage me to make sure I made my devotional time “life-giving.” That admonition has helped. Nowadays, if I miss my quiet time, I don’t give in to despair. I just make sure that I get back on track and make fellowship with God a priority. Also, I no longer view private worship as a legalistic obligation. I give myself grace, and I make regular changes to my routine to keep it fresh and flexible. Do something similar. In remaining pliable, you will make your devotional time more refreshing and “life- giving.”
Throw the ball back and forth.
In his book “Life on the Edge,” Dr. James Dobson talks about how interpersonal communication involves both talking and listening. He likens the activity to a game of catch. Each person needs to catch (“listen”) and throw (“talk”) for healthy communication to thrive. I believe this metaphor can be applied to our devotional lives. To have well-balanced worship we need to both catch the ball (“listen to God”) and throw it (“talk to God”). As Christians, we accomplish these two things by reading the Bible and praying. If both of these activities aren’t included in your quiet time, you will feel like you are riding a bicycle with only one wheel! Listen to what God says through His Word (John 17:17 and 2 Timothy 3:16) and talk to Him through prayer (Colossians 4:2 and James 5:13-18)!
Ultimately,private worship is designed to enlighten, encourage, edify, and equip us! Make sure you are getting something out of your time with the Lord. Remember — Scripture teaches that the presence of God is something to be enjoyed (Psalm 84:10-12)!
Dr. Patrick Latham