I’m hesitant to write a post like this because I think many of us fall into ‘check-the-box’ ruts in our spiritual routines. However, there are others who have never experienced the deep joys of walking in daily spiritual disciplines. If that is you or if it has been years since you have, then I think these words could be nothing short of life-altering for you.
I’m incredibly entertained by staring at a camp fire. I can, and have, sat all day tending and staring at a camp fire – and it was incredible. Starting the fire, well, is a little tricky because you don’t yet have a hot coal bed. Once a fire has been burning a little while and there is a nice bed of hot coals, then you can throw any size or formation of wood on the fire and it is going to burn well.
Many times we get so distracted by what books to read, what time of day to read them, how to pray, and what our journal looks like, that we completely neglect the basics of cultivating our relationship with Jesus. The burning embers of our spiritual life are three basic things: scripture, prayer, and response. There are so many different ways this can materialize in our lives, but at the most basic level these are the three things that create those embers that continue to keep our spiritual lives vital throughout our days. I don’t want to wade deep into the waters of detailed strategies of this because I believe that if each of these three are present you can use all sorts of different arrangements to facilitate the joy of growing intimately in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- The Bible. This is not only our source of truth but it is the very words of God speaking into our lives. If you are attempting to have a ‘quiet time’ (translation from Christianese to english would be spend time with Jesus) and your plan does not include reading the Bible then ABORT ABORT! Everything we need to know about living our lives in a relationship with Jesus is in that book. Reading Christian literature by great authors is extremely helpful, but if we replace our own time in scripture with these books then we are only getting a hand-me-down relationship with Jesus. If you can imagine being married to one person but living with and only communicating with another about your spouse… then your real relationship wouldn’t be with your spouse but with the person with which you were living. Be encouraged by great writing and preaching but do not base your relationship with Jesus on them.
- Prayer. You can’t have a relationship with someone and not communicate with them. You can observe them and learn a lot about them but that is where it ends. God desires for us to communicate with him in prayer. There are not special formulas we have to follow or any secret language we have to use. Our Bible is full of examples of people just thanking God for his work, asking God to help in difficult situations, and even just crying out in frustration to Him. God is not surprised by our needs or feelings. We often find comfort in talking through a difficult time with a friend who knows us well. Imagine what it might do in our hearts if we authentically communicate with the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb. Prayer takes our intellectual relationship with Jesus and makes it intimate and personal.
- Response. I could possibly leave this one out because if we are honestly approaching the Bible as truth and spending time in prayer, then responding will be a natural result. However, it is beneficial for us to remind ourselves that our relationship with Jesus isn’t just about acquiring knowledge. There are many scholars in our world who have studied the Bible extensively and yet are not walking in gospel transformation. When we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit applies the ideas we read to our lives. Sometimes that application is to do something differently. Sometimes the application is to think something differently. But, every single page and word of our Bible is given to be profitable for life change (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Regardless of how long you have been going to church or how much knowledge you have acquired, I encourage you to begin a spiritual routine that includes these three each day. There aren’t many guarantees in this life, but I can guarantee that these three will change your life.
Do you have a daily routine of spending time with Jesus? Would you be so bold as to share how that looks in your life with those reading? It could be a great encouragement to people and help them grow deeper in their relationship with our Savior.