We must be on guard against having a Christianity that is devoid of real life. Empty religion is a temptation for every generation. If we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of professing Christ while not really walking with Him. We can succumb to a state of doing many religious things in the name of God without having vibrant communion with our God. How can we be on guard? I believe that personal worship is an antidote to such a scenario. Scripture teaches that we are made for fellowship with God (Genesis 1:26-27 and 1 John 1:7). Jesus taught that private prayer is a means of experiencing such communion (Matthew 6:5-8). While abiding in Christ (John 15:5) involves more than merely having a daily “quiet time,” personal worship is indeed important if we want to experience the abundant life Christ offers (John 10:10). As you seek to daily spend time with God, consider three important tips.

Avoid the checklist mentality.

When I first started having a daily devotional time, I quickly learned that it is easy to make the thing monotonous and legalistic. I remember days of rushing through Bible reading and reciting regimented prayers. In time, I learned that I needed to keep my focus on fellowship. As you spend time with God, remember the end goal. Your aim isn’t to merely fulfill an obligation. You are trying to build your relationship with God. A verse from Genesis helps me in this regard. When Adam and Eve were first created, they enjoyed “walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze” with the Lord (Genesis 3:8). Remember — you are made for fellowship with God, and your daily devotional time is a means of enjoying such fellowship. Don’t reduce it to mere ritualistic religion!

Be strategic.

While our relationship withGodisanongoingthingthatshouldinvolve a degree of spontaneity (1 Thessalonians 5:17), a vibrant walk with God requires a level of strategy and structure (1 Timothy 4:7). I have learned this through spiritual sweat and tears. It seems that a plan is crucial to success in private worship. We can learn a lesson from the saints we see in Scripture. Enoch (Genesis 5:24), Jacob (Genesis 32:23-32), David (Psalm 119:62), Daniel (Daniel 6:10 and 9:2), and John (Revelation 1:10) all knew that planning, timing, and structure are key to spending time with God. If you want to experience life- giving communion with God, be strategic in picking a place for private worship, setting goals for Scripture reading, carving out time in your daily schedule, and selecting good devotional reading materials. Remember — a failure to plan is often a plan for failure!

Find what works for you.

At the end of the day, we need a certain level of holy pragmatism when it comes to our personal worship. If what we do in our prayer chamber doesn’t seem to make us feel closer to God, we may need to do some reevaluating. Sure, there are going to be many times when our quiet times seem dry and dreary. Lack of sleep, proper nutrition, sickness, and the problems of life may impede our worship at times. However, private worship should be life giving at some point. Make sure your routine doesn’t become monotonous. If it doesn’t seem to bring a blessing, make some changes until it does!

Dr. Patrick Latham

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