“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
As a new year begins to take off, I once again find my heart confessing these words found in the beautiful hymn “Come Thou Fount”. How easy it is for my heart to wander, especially when life is busy. Keeping my wandering heart focused on God requires discipline.
As a new year begins, many of us will reflect on last year and set new spiritual goals for the upcoming year. If you are like me, it will not be long before you become discouraged in your pursuit of your new goals.
Last year, I took a spiritual discipline class with Dr. Lawless. He gave our class some practical tips for practicing spiritual disciplines that I consistently review, as it helps my spiritual life flourish. Many of us want to practice these spiritual disciplines but have never been taught how. I want to share some of the things I learned to encourage you as you practice spiritual disciplines.
One of the first chapters my new Bible reading plan had me read this year was Psalms 19. In Psalms 19 we see that the law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, and reliable. His Word renews our soul, enlightens our eyes, and makes our heart glad. What a great reminder of the importance of reading God’s Word.
When it comes to Bible reading, quality is greater than quantity. Set a realistic goal. If you have not previously pursued God’s Word, it may not be realistic for you to try to read through the Bible in year, but you can still set a goal. You may try reading through one book each month. As the quality of your Bible reading improves, quantity will follow. I would also recommend having a friend hold you accountable. Personally, the best way I have found to do this is by having friends send me an email daily with insights and prayer from their devotional time and having them hold me accountable for sending an email with my reflections. This trains me to share what God is teaching me with others.
As you dive into the Word, the natural response will be prayer. Praying Scripture leads to more focused and God-centered prayers. However, you must schedule time to pray. If you do not intentional plan times to pray and read your Bible, it will easily get pushed to the bottom of the list. One trick I find helpful is keeping my prayer journal open throughout the day and adding to it continuously instead of waiting until my devotional time to communicate with God.
I have failed at this discipline over and over again. The best way for me to journal is to be brief and invest in a journaling Bible. Each year in a new journaling Bible I write prayers and notes on the three Biblical themes I select. Though these small steps have helped me consistently journal, the biggest reward from this spiritual discipline has been reflection. As I reflect on previous prayers, I can see the many ways God has been faithful to answer these prayers. Journals are a practical way to leave behind a witness.
“Tune my heart to sing thy grace. Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
This is my prayer as the year continues, that God will bind my wandering heart to His as I seek to grow in my relationship with Him through Bible study, prayer, and journaling.