A question that I believe every follower of Christ needs to ask himself is "How often do I think about God?". Seriously, when we read passages like Deuteronomy 6:6-12 where Moses tells the people of Israel to think on God always and do whatever necessary to think about him; and like 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that tells us to pray continually, we should get the sense that faith in God is not something that we do for a half hour each day followed by an hour on Sunday. We are called to a 24/7, 365.25 days a year, every year of our life kind of Christianity! We may be busy, but it doesn't matter, because nothing should be held higher than our faith in God. This means that we need to focus in on Him throughout our day, but the question of how we can do this still remains.
We are called to a 24/7, 365.25 days a year, every year of our life kind of Christianity!
I think it is pretty safe to say that most of us are not "praying continually" or thinking about God constantly or talking with our children diligently "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deuteronomy 6:7). So what are some ways that we can elevate God in our lives? How can we examine where our head's at and turn it toward God?
First and foremost, we should always start with a daily personal devotional time. This means spending time reading God's Word (the Bible) and asking him to speak to us through it (and then applying what is revealed in our life). It also means spending time in meaningful prayer and communication with God. This isn't a "wish list" of miraculous tidbits we want from God, but a true conversation with our Father in heaven.
There is no right or wrong time to do this--really whenever you can be sure to actually do it and stay awake doing it. Some of us are night owls and for you there would be no point in trying to get up at 5am to squeeze it in before work--you won't be effective and you'll give up. Same with morning people--don't try doing it at midnight if your body craves sleep at that hour, because you won't follow through.
At the same time, we need to make sure we don't forget and allow other commitments to take away from this daily time with God. Put it in your calendar with a reminder. Maybe even set a timer and force yourself to sit there in God's presence for a particular amount of time. However you decide works best for you the key is to do it! A plan of attack is often helpful too. Right now, the congregation of Abundant Springs is working their way through the Bible in a year and I would invite you to join with us if you're not right now (see www.thebibleplan.ca). You don't need to start at the beginning. Start on today's date and work your way through. When you get to the end then start at the beginning and go to where you left off. Once you've finished that, make a new reading plan and stick with that, marking the days off as you complete them. That'll keep many of us on track: especially goal-oriented achievers!
We have to make sure we don't forget and allow other commitments to take away from this daily time with God.
Other Spiritual Disciplines
Once you have settled into a consistent time of devotion with God, it may be time to focus yourself even more and dig even deeper. In 1988, Richard Foster wrote a spectacular book on the spiritual disciplines entitled Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth. If you are looking to grow your relationship with Christ I wholeheartedly recommend this book, in fact the link above will send you directly to Amazon.ca to buy it if you so choose. In the book Foster outlines three categories of spiritual disciplines: Inward, Outward, and Corporate.
These are those that we work on within ourselves that are just us and God. These are Meditation (not the "ohmmmmm" type. This is thinking on God and his word), Prayer, Fasting, and Study.
These are Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, and Service.
These are Confession, Worship, Guidance, and Celebration.
Keeping Our Focus During Our Busy Day
At this point you are probably saying, "That's great, Pastor Stephen, but that's all stuff that I would have to do in my free time (of which you'd probably say you have none)! How does that help me keep myself focused on God all the time like you're saying I should?"
First, this does not mean we should all quit our jobs and become monks so we can focus on God 100% all the time. He understands we have things we have to do to survive and provide for our families. Praying constantly can involve us pausing throughout our day to give thanks or ask for help. It can also be a ceaseless undercurrent of running dialogue within ourselves between our soul and God. We can keep our heart focused on God by maintaining an awareness of his presence and power throughout our day. These things come through practice and through growing our relationship closer to Him.
At the same time, there are some intentional ways we can give ourselves "reminders" to think about God.
Keeping our focus on God during a busy day can be from a ceaseless undercurrent of running dialogue within ourselves between our soul and God. We can keep our heart focused on God by maintaining an awareness of his presence and power throughout our day.
Memorizing Scripture is a great way to focus our heart on God and keep him in our mind, because we are literally committing His words to our memory. You will be surprised at how often those verses you take the time to take to heart come back to encourage you or keep you on-track.
Write it down
There's a reason Moses told the Israelites to put God's Laws everywhere in Deuteronomy 6. Everywhere they would go they would see a reminder to think about God and his desires for us. So put some scriptures in your wallet, or on your desk or your walls, or your computer, or your car (just not anywhere that will impede your ability to drive safely).
Talk it Out
Take the time to have conversations about your faith. Those you have with non-believers will be difficult, but they will force you to dig deeper and ask and answer questions you never considered. The talks you have with other Christians will be refreshing, but you will be amazed at what you learn and discover and how encouraged you can become.
Live It Out
The ultimate way you can ensure your head is in the right place is to live out your relationship with God in every area of life. This comes with the added benefit of making the spiritual talks you have with your children and those you disciple (you have these talks, right?) much more genuine as they see you living rightly. There will be many instances that this seems difficult or even impossible, but God doesn't desire us to be part-time Christians who only follow his ways when they are convenient or make sense to us. He wants us to always follow Him in everything.
Hopefully all this has encouraged you to push forward in your relationship with God. No one ever (rightly) said it would be an easy road following Jesus, but it truly is a rewarding one. My prayer for you is that you can make God a priority in your life and learn to follow him ceaselessly. My desire is also that you will train up and disciple those around you, and especially your children, to be strong Christ-followers as well.
If this has touched your heart, be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. We'd love to hear your comments below or on Facebook.
If you'd like to hear more on this topic check out the Morning Message Podcast here (will be available later on September 16, 2013).
--Pastor Stephen Valcourt