Tag Archives: devotional

Take Your Time

Open Bible

The world today is about speed. The ability to multi-task is not only highly valued, but quite necessary for survival. Employees are asked to do more with less, and that includes less time. Studies have determined that many people sleep less than seven hours a day, not resting nearly enough to give their bodies and minds time to recharge.

This state of affairs explains why many people have trouble making time for the Lord. Their days start early in the AM, and they run as fast as they can go till late PM.

These busy people all believe they must be organized. The industry that makes organizers is alive and well and growing. What fills up all this time? The entries cover work, family, home maintenance, physical exercise, volunteer charity work, professional education, and so forth. It is no wonder that people throw up their hands in despair when someone says that they should take time every day for spiritual nourishment in prayer and Bible study.

Yet the Bible is very clear that God wants us to spend time with him. After he had created the first man and woman, he met them in the garden every day. Every day! The first time they missed a meeting, it was because they had disobeyed him, and they felt too guilty to face him. When people today miss their meetings with him, God feels the loss.

Jesus, God’s Son, needed time with his father, though he was often so busy that he did not even have time to eat. (See Mark 6:33) Contemporary families can identify with that problem. Yet throughout these busy days, Jesus made time to pray.

Mark 1:21-39 records a very busy Sabbath that opened with a demon-possessed man in the synagogue and ended with “the whole city . . . gathered together at the door” of Peter’s house. (Mark 1:33 ESV) Yet Mark says that, “very early [the next] morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35 ESV).

Old Testament or New Testament, God’s desire to spend time with us is a consistent theme. You can read the complicated story of Saul’s anointing to be king of Israel in 1 Samuel 8-10. The country is suffering, and Saul is clueless about his future. When Samuel contrives to be alone with Saul in order to let him know God’s plan, this is what he says: “Stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God” (1 Samuel 9:27 ESV). Samuel as God’s agent, God’s voice to Saul, separates Saul from the busyness in his life and compels him to slow down for a while in God’s presence just to listen. To listen!

That is why we need to spend time with God. We need to make our petitions for our needs, because God desires to care for us, but even more than we need to get what we want, we need to hear God speak and share what he wants for us. How many blessings do we miss, because we do not take time to listen to God? What would have happened in Saul’s life if he had said, “Sam, I’m a busy man. I don’t have time to sit down for your jawboning right now. Why don’t you have your people talk to my people, and we will for sure get together soon.”

Many, many people treat God this way. They get up to the sound of the alarm clock. Maybe their first thought is, “I promised myself that I would make time to pray and read the Bible today. I’m gonna do that today for sure. Soon as I get out of the shower.” After the shower, they say, “Oh, I need to read my Bible, but maybe I’ll get coffee going first.” Then they remember that today’s status meeting is fifteen minutes earlier so the district manager can attend. “Okay, I’ll throw everything in the car right now, and then I’ll grab a few minutes for the Bible, and then I’ll go.” After the car is loaded, they can’t find the Bible or the devotion book or the phone rings. They hop in the car for the early meeting and run by Starbucks for a cuppa to get through the early meeting. As the meeting comes to order, the district manager says, “Folks, I’m sorry, but I have some bad news.” The participants sigh, “Oh, God!” and that is the prayer of the day.

Many, many contemporary Christians feel that they simply do not have the time for prayer and Bible study, and they have this attitude, because they do not realize what will happen after they start spending regular time with God.

I know this to be true.

I started my time with God by allotting only five minutes a day to him. I knew, or felt that I knew, that I should give him more time, but I knew, or felt that I knew, that I would never be able to give more. At that time, I started work daily at 6AM or earlier. I never left work till 6PM. I tried to have a life after work, and it was very hard to add anything to my days. Yet God kept whispering his call to me, and I kept feeling as guilty as Adam and Eve, hiding in the bushes. I had to do something.

I allotted five minutes, and I specified it would be immediately after my shower. Out of bed, start coffee, hop in the shower, dress, and sit down for God’s time. Five minutes. I gave God five minutes out of a day of 1440 minutes. I gave God .3% of my day.

I used the Daily Texts published by Mount Carmel Ministries. I read two verses and meditated on them. Then I read the prayer already written for me in the book. Five minutes, and I was gone.

What was the consequence of that decision? I was never late for work because of that commitment. I discover that those five minutes were very precious to me. I began to look forward to them. Those five minutes became my daily refuge in a very hectic and demanding career. Before long, I wanted to write down my thoughts on the verses, and I increased my time to ten minutes. Soon, I was reading my Bible, journaling my meditation, and praying for fifteen minutes. Yet when work responsibilities were overwhelming, and I worked round the clock from time to time, I could always find at least five minutes. It takes that long to go to the bathroom or go get a cup of coffee in the break room. I could give God five minutes.

That five minutes has been increased several times over the years, but I have never forgotten how important it was, even when it was just five minutes. During the most frantic days of my life, I never want to miss that five minutes. There have been times when I was so overwhelmed that I truly did let it slip away. Those were days when my motto was “Watch and pray,” and I hated being unable to step out of the midst of things for time alone, time to slow down and listen. However, months and years of having made that time apart happen day after day meant that I had a reservoir of peace and fulfillment that helped me through the days when it simply could not happen.

You may not realize it right now, but you need time alone with God every day. You may think you don’t even have five minutes, but almost certainly you do. There is more than one way make that time work, and here are four suggestions:

  • Sign up at Bible Gateway to receive the Verse of the Day by email each day. This site has a wealth of Bible reading plans and devotional series, but you can start giving God your five minutes by reading, meditating and praying a single verse each day. If you start with this simple practice, your life will change.
  • Use Daily Texts published by Mount Carmel Ministries for Kindle and paperback. There are many excellent devotional helps in this book, but you can start very simply with two verses and one prayer.
  • Get the First5 app on your phone. It allows you to set an alarm for the time you choose to give God your five minutes. The alarm will sound, and when you respond, you will receive a devotional and prayer. Step out of the fray and give God your First5.
  • Sign up to receive “Drops from the Well” each Sunday afternoon on your phone or by email. The site provides suggestions for ways to use a single verse as inspiration for meditation throughout the week.

Do you really think you cannot give God just five minutes each day? Think again. It is worth the time.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: Open Bible
Source:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOpen_Bible.jpg
By Wnorbutas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0


Some Thoughts for the New Year

th_praying-handsThe Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you. John 14:26 

It is time to begin thinking about the new year. Maybe you don’t need a long list of resolutions, but perhaps you know of one thing you need to work on. What is the one thing that is worth your effort above all the others? Maybe this is the time to commit to meet your Holy Teacher every day. Sit at his feet. Listen. Learn. Is this the time? 

If you are thinking you should have a daily quiet time, maybe you need something very simple that won’t take more time than you can give. Take a look at Mount Carmel’s Daily Texts. Two verses and a prayer. Every morning. There is much more you can use, but these simple verses with a prayer take about five minutes. If you have five minutes, you have time for the Daily Texts. (I receive no commission or affiliate fees from the sale of Daily Texts. I recommend them because I have used them. )

How Can I Start Praying Every Day?

"Praying Hands" (study for an Apostl...
“Praying Hands” (study for an Apostle figure of the “Heller” altar) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of my Christian friends bemoan the fact that they do not pray faithfully every day. I have known them long enough to know that they pray, because we have prayed together, or they have told me about praying in a crisis. Still, they want to have a daily time apart, and it doesn’t happen.Here’s a fact: daily time for devotions will never happen. If you commit to do it and then do it, you will have that daily time. But it will never just happen. You will never get up and discover that you have fifteen extra minutes with nothing to do before you need to leave for work. You will always find that you are in the car on the way to work aware that you ran out of time to do many things that needed to be done, and you will never see the day when you just accidentally have time for prayer and Bible study.

There is never a good time to start a diet. There is never a right time to start exercising. If you plan to get together with friends once a month, you will never simply look up one night and discover that they have all accidentally joined you at a fine restaurant. Anything you want to accomplish requires commitment and planning, or it will not happen.

I discovered the Mount Carmel Daily Texts online in the late nineties. I really don’t remember exactly when. I loved that site from the beginning. I read the two verses and thought about them and prayed. It was very nice, but I didn’t do it faithfully. In those days my computer was a desktop unit on a large wooden workstation. I had to go the kitchen in order to use it. If I were rushing around in the morning, I usually forgot even to turn the computer on, so I often did not read my verses. The website today still displays the verses each day, but it has expanded its scope and changed its style over the years. The texts are only one ministry of the Mount Carmel Retreat Center.

When I began traveling every week for work in 2000, I started buying the annual Daily Texts devotional book. I packed that little book, a small Bible and a notebook in my bag every week. Even though my workdays were 12 hours or longer, I could still find time each morning, just 15 minutes or so, to read the day’s verses and then pray.

The ministry of the daily texts goes back to a Moravian settlement in the 18th century. Their practice of meditating on a single “watchword” verse from the Old Testament each day was later expanded by the addition of a verse from the New Testament. The texts were selected annually by a committee. The selected texts were then printed for distribution to congregations and their member. Today, the daily texts are used around the world, translated into 50 languages, and available in a wide variety of formats. Everyone who uses the daily texts reads the same verses on the same day.

I buy Daily Texts through the Mount Carmel website . The emphasis is the simple presentation of two texts and a prayer for each day. Busy, overstressed Christians can find a brief comforting retreat from the chaos by limiting their focus to the basics. However, time permitting, there are other features to enrich the private worship experience.

The list of daily texts is changed annually, and each year’s devotional book is printed with weekly calendars. Each week’s readings are headed up by a list of the lectionary readings and a watchword text chosen from those selections. A hymn thematically related to the gospel reading is also printed for personal meditation and inspiration.

The daily entries include the two key texts, printed in full. You don’t need to search for them in your Bible. You can always choose to read them from your own Bible, and you may even want to read the context, but if your time is limited, you can read them as printed in the book. After the text, there is a printed prayer, focusing on the theme of the verses. Nothing prevents you from praying your own prayer, but when time is short, or when you feel too depleted or frantic to choose your own words, the printed prayer is a wonderful guide for your thoughts.

Monday through Saturday, after the prayer are suggested readings for two Bible reading plans. Notice that there is no reading on Sunday. You get to take a Sabbath from your Bible reading plan on that day. The lectionary readings for the day can replace the plan readings on Sunday if you wish. One plan takes you through the Bible in a year. The other takes you through the Bible in two years. I have used the two-year plan and found it more comfortable than the single year. It is completely optional. Mount Carmel also posts a blog with a three-year Bible reading plan. You have choices.

The slim little book of Daily Texts somehow crams in a wealth of additional material for your personal growth and study. You can learn three different prayer methods which may enrich your prayer time. You can learn how to share the daily texts in family prayer time. There is an article about Martin Luther’s prayer life, a guide for daily intercession, Luther’s Small Catechism, and a guide for personal confession and forgiveness.

The Mount Carmel Daily Texts is a rich resource for daily devotions in just under 200 pages. The pages are about the size of a 4X6 index card. You can use as much or as little of the options as you choose, but nowhere are you likely to find a resource better suited to your individual needs. What’s more, it is quite inexpensive. Currently, you can buy a single copy for less than ten dollars, and there are a variety of discounts for purchases of two or more. I don’t get any commission for referring you to Mount Carmel. This recommendation is simply my own experience.

Making time for prayer is like making time for exercise, or for washing dishes, or for anything else you consider important. Using the Daily Texts, however, makes it about as easy as it can be. You can use this simple, inexpensive resource to help you keep the commitment you want to make to a daily prayer time. There are many good devotional books available. I took the time to share this one because it has meant a lot to me.

What devotional resources do you find most helpful?