10 Simple Ways to Enrich Your Time Alone with God

10 Simple Ways to Enrich Your Time Alone with God

By Ronald Saunders from Warrington, UK (Birchwood. Entrance to the Secret Garden.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Our true religion is what we do with our solitude.  Churches tend to emphasize the activities of discipleship that take place in the fellowship of believers–common worship, mission, looking after one another, and religious education.  Once we’re out of the church building and by ourselves, there is often not much from Church that we can carry into our loneliness  It is alarmingly easy for people to attend worship for years and never hear or be taught the importance of spending time alone with God.  As a consequence, practicing Christians know little about the Bible and little more about a sustained habit of prayer.  Our relationship with God is very much like our relationship with any other person.  It’s a glorious friendship.  And like any friendship it doesn’t run very deeply, nor does it last unless we’re in continual conversation.

Jesus’ Example

Jesus had a powerful prayer relationship with his Heavenly Father.  He spent much rich time alone with God.  One would think that he didn’t need one.  Nevertheless, we read that Jesus slipped away, sometimes in the middle of the night for conversation and communion with the Father.  Obviously, his example leaves us with an inescapable conclusion.  If Jesus needed to have uninterrupted stretches of time with God, how much more we, as his followers, need it.

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The Christian Life is a Relationship

The ten steps below come out of my own experience.  It’s helpful to have some pointers in order to enrich your time alone with God.  These ideas get us started.  It won’t take long after you start having your own quiet time that you will be learning on your own.  In other words, we can get some ideas about being married from the college class: “Marriage and Family Life 101.”  But we really learn about how to be and stay married by being and staying married.  So it is with prayer.  I’m guessing that many adults who start their own discipline of personal worship will spend a year or more focusing mostly on the discipline itself–experimenting with new ideas, making mistakes, and gaining confidence.

10 Simple Ways to Enrich Your Time Alone with God

 

  1. Find a place that is free of noise and interruption. When we tell people about our prayer life or  fail to be subtle about retiring for prayer, we are inviting the specialness of our God—provided time and place to be violated and possibly lost.  Let the trickster in you guard your private time with God.

  2. Try to be alert and rested. This calls for an overall lifestyle of self-care.  Taking care of yourself in general , scheduling reasonable amounts of activity, and stopping the day before you’re exhausted or sick is wise self-discipline.

  3. Allow for plenty of time. Relationships have their own rhythm.  Fifteen minutes for talking with God is too rushed.  Forty-five minutes is closer to a reasonable amount of time for beginners.  Being unhurried in prayer is consistent with being “present.” In scheduling enough time to connect in leisure with God helps you to distinguish between putting in an appearance and really connecting with God

  4. Bring a notebook and pen into your personal worship. You may feel moved to record what you are learning in your meditation and Bible study.  Having a running record of how you’ve senses God speaking creates a private sacred literature.  Writing is a form of focus.  Having opportunity to pace your thoughts is like walking through the woods instead of driving.  Writing is a special form of presence with God.  Also, the accumulated thoughts and insights is a wonderful resource for times of spiritual dryness, distress or emptiness.

  5. Resolve to act on all that you feel God is asking you to do. We are not really listening or in a right relationship with God if we cherish a plan to ignore or violate God’s will if it doesn’t suit us.  To hold out a plan to do as we please really means that our own will is our god.  Approach prayer with an attitude of placing yourself entirely in God’s control.

  6. Be willing to experiment with different exercises in devotion. This flexibility provides movement or progress in one’s prayer life.  Our techniques in devotion need to grow out of our devotion.  In other words, God teaches us how to worship within the context of worship.  We need to be open to the ways God is teaching us to pray.

  7. Establish a disciplined routine of personal worship. Any thought that a particular time of prayer is either the first or last time with God in a long time is in itself a distraction.  If you are so busy apologizing or feeling guilty for not being in prayer more frequently, then you are not fully present with God.  Make it a point to come to prayer—whether you  feel like it or not—each day.

  8. Carry a Bible and a Bible reading plan (lectionary) into personal worship. The Bible prevents personal worship from straying into undisciplined subjectivism, which is a flight from God rather than an encounter with God.  The lectionary provides specificity so that some portion of the Bible is actually being read on any given day.  This rescues us from the subjectivism of uwing only our favorite passages.  It also rescues us from the randomness of just flipping around.  The Bible’s authors never intended their texts to be read randomly.

  9. Depend on God to help the two of you to fill the time you’ve scheduled to be together. This attitude trusts to God an active lead in guiding your personal worship.  Sometimes the weight of responsibility to have a “good” prayer time can come to be too much for us.  We need to enter personal worship knowing that its success rests on both ourselves and God.  It’s helpful to ask God at the beginning of worship to direct the activities of your time together.

  10. Adopt a work-like attitude in prayer, which is busy and productive during your time with God. Don’t attempt to worship exclusively in that last minute of the day when you are about to drop off to sleep.  Worship is an active thing.  Worship and sleep are incompatible.  Using one’s whole body in worship is the fitting reaction to God’s giving of his whole self in Jesus Christ.

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One Reply to “10 Simple Ways to Enrich Your Time Alone with God”

  1. Good points- Very helpful! Seems weird that I find having disciplined free time more difficult in retirement! (number 1) Seems if you can get number 1 nailed down the rest is easy to work on!

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