Does This Count? (ATP)
This week’s question is for us all. “When you are going through seasons that are fuller schedule-wise, how is the best way to maintain Word and prayer? Does it “count” to listen to messages online, or CD sermons from ministers as Word time?”
Our time with God is not about keeping score. Our time with God is not something that we need to check off our “to do” list. This is wholly and entirely missing the fact that our walk with God is about relationship, not religion, not ritual. I love what the Apostle Paul said, 1 Corinthians 14:18,
“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.” Paul knew something. He knew that a supernatural prayer life was crucial for the plan he was called to walk out on this earth. He knew the fruit of praying in tongues. He knew the benefits for his life. Notice, Paul never said anything about any spiritual brownie points. He knew he couldn’t be successful without prayer, and especially prayer in the spirit. One way to build our relationship with God, that can happen as we go about our daily life, is praying in the spirit, like the Apostle Paul.
Look at Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The Word doesn’t lie. These things, things that benefit our lives and make our lives easier, come through growing a spiritual harvest. Spiritual fruit comes by paying attention to our gardens so to speak. Plant the seed of the Word, till the ground of our hearts, nourish our spirits by Word and prayer, and we will bear these spiritual fruits. Notice also that our character is built by spending time with God.
Look also at Psalms 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In His presence there is joy, there is fullness and there is direction. We can have as much joy, as much self-control, as much patience, as much love, as much direction, and as much fullness as we choose. This can come in many ways, as long as our hearts are turned towards Him. The Word speaks of joy that comes in His presence. Sometimes we’ll just need to take the time to enter into His presence through praise and thanksgiving. We know this invites Him to move in our lives. This can happen as we go about our daily lives, taking care of errands, cleaning our home, in our car, taking a walk, etc.
Besides prayer in the spirit, and praise and worship, His Word is our direction and our answers for our lives. Look at Psalms 119:103-105, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word should be sweet to us. We’re looking at it wrong if we’re seeing the Word, and our Word time as anything but sweet. Through His Word we get understanding! Through His Word we get clarity! These are things we need more than ever in busy seasons. Skip down a few verses, Psalms 119:11-16, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” Notice that we must hide the Word in our hearts. This denotes a personal time of digging deeper into the things of God and into the Word. It really could be likened to digging to bury a treasure deep down underground. As we spend personal time in the Word we bury it into our hearts. This is not the same as only listening to someone else share a sermon, while we are preoccupied with something else. We should endeavor to find time for this, not because we have an obligation, but because we understand the importance.
Now look at Psalms 1:2-3, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” The most prosperous life is for one that takes time to delight in and meditate in the Word. The most rooted and stable life is for one who delights in His Word. This word delight is very interesting. It means to willingly purpose. Whenever someone willingly purposes to spend time in the Word, they will prosper in whatever they do. Joshua 1:8 says this same thing, “This Book of the Law (the Word) shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” If we want to be doers of the Word, we’ve got to keep the Word at the forefront of our hearts and mouths.
Finally, another consideration we must make is whether or not the things we have filled our plate with are things the Lord has called us to. If you were in church this week, you’ll remember Psalms 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it…” If what we are doing isn’t blessing our lives, it’s not of God. It’s not failure to admit we can’t do it all. It’s not failure to step back and re-prioritize our lives.
Keeping all this in mind, God is fully aware of our situations. The fact that we want to make sure we’re spending enough time with God is more than many Christians even think about. Remember though He is not keeping score, no matter what the enemy wants you to think. He desires time with us because He loves us, but He’s not holding it against us if we legitimately have busy schedules for a season. Mothers can understand this very well. Sometimes we have very little left to give after a busy day of caring for our families. Would a loving Father rather you neglect your children and households? I think we know that’s not the case. Our lives are blessed as we seek Him, but remember each one of us has a personal relationship with Him. We need not compare our walk with our neighbors. We need to make the time we have with God intimate and meaningful and always be assessing whether or not we’re keeping Him a priority in our lives. Remember condemning thoughts are not of God. He’s a loving Father, always here to hear us and keep us in the right direction.