I suffer from chronic devotional neglect. As a teenager, I would spend several hours at a time in my room, praying, singing, totally enthralled with Jesus, finding full joy in my time with Him. The 20 years since have been profoundly blessed, but my fervor for protecting that time has been embarrassingly inconsistent.
My most committed seasons have been times of personal perplexity or tragedy—it’s easy to cry out to God when I need something desperately . . . when I feel like He’s all I have. But really, He’s still all I have when things are going well.
So I suppose I was Lorne Sanny’s prime audience when he wrote “How to Spend a Day in Prayer.” Someone who needed a direct but loving reminder. Someone who had forgotten the value of a day spent, eyes fixed, on the better thing.
Lorne Sanny was the second international director of The Navigators, and, from what I’m told, he was a man who was often discovered in his office on his knees in prayer. He knew how to spend time with God.
Not long after finishing my initial read of Lorne’s article, I headed to Glen Eyrie Conference Center on a Saturday, to spend a couple of hours in intentional communication with God. I didn’t follow Lorne’s rubric religiously by any means, but his writing inspired, challenged, and reminded me of the ’90s me. The person I was before I started checking my phone 80 times a day. Before I started believing the lie that you can keep depth with God relying on old investment. Before pride became my pet sin.
During these precious hours with God, He spoke to me by giving me peace, and a sense of closeness that I had been missing. He gave me wisdom (James 1:5) in a decision I was examining. It wasn’t new revelation or anything extrabiblical. But it was powerful, and God communicated His love through it.
My most memorable takeaway from Lorne’s writing, and the thing that really drove me to the Glen that Saturday, was this quote:
“If God has given us plans and purposes in those times alone, we will be ready when opportunity comes to move right into it. We won’t have to say, ‘I’m not prepared.’ The reason many Christians are dead to opportunities is not because they are not mentally alert, but they are simply unprepared in heart. Preparation is made when we get alone with God.”
Major life decisions fill me with compulsive panic. I feel unqualified, unprepared, unworthy of hearing any direction from God. I find myself wishing that, like my husband, I had been spending consistent time with Jesus for months before crisis surfaced.
God still seems to have mercy on me, but I know I’ve missed out, over and over again, in my inattention to Him. My problem is certainly not mental alertness. I can think with the best of them. But my heart often walks into situations completely unprepared. I hate that.
Do you want sweeter friendship with Jesus? Do you want to be better equipped for His next move in your life? The first step may be to simply make the time. Purposeful days don’t just happen.
“The test of such a day is not how exhilarated we are when the day is over but how it works into life tomorrow. If we have really exposed ourselves to the Word and come into contact with God, it will affect our daily life. And that is what we want.”