Monday, August 17, 2009

At the Heart of It All

This is a follow-up post in regard to a wonderful book I have been reading called "Life Management for Busy Women" By Elizabeth George. You can read the first post here.

George puts first things first for sure. There is so much scripture and encouragement to bolster every point she makes. I wish I could include it all. Part 1, called "At the Heart of It All-Managing Your Spiritual Life" starts with a call to develop a passion for God’s Word, encouraging the reader to give this passion time (in your schedule), first time (like the first fruits of the Old Testament Pr 3:9), and early time (the first of your day Ps 63:1). I know that the Bible does not mandate that you get up early and give that particular part of your day to Him as apposed to having quiet time at some other point. But there is so much to be said for starting out your day with the Lord (Gen 19:27, Ps 5:3, Mk 1:35) all of which she highlights in the book.

The following quotes are all taken directly from the book, with the exception of my comments in parenthesis.

Ten Disciplines for Developing a Passion for God’s Word

1. Refuse to miss a day. (She suggests using a Quiet Times Calendar, like this one, and simply color in each day you had quiet time and use it as a gauge to see how you are doing.)

2. Pray as you approach God’s Word. Ask Him to assist you in understanding the living Word of God. Do as Solomon advised and cry out for knowledge and lift up your voice for understanding (Pr 2:3)

3. Consume God’s Word in various ways. Play teaching tapes and videos. Memorize and medicate on Bible verses. Place Scripture verses at strategic places throughout the house or your workplace.

4. Find a rhythm or a pattern that fits your lifestyle.

5. Be a woman of one Book-the Book. If you only have time to read one book make sure that is the Bible. I have friends who even make it a discipline to read the Bible before they read anything else each day.

6. Be accountable. Declare your intention to those who care for you most and are willing to check up on you and “hold your feet to the fire"

7. Beat the family. Does this sound strange? What I mean is to aim at getting up before your family gets up…As you take time via a personal quiet time to tune your heart strings to heave, then-amazingly!-your “tune” is sweeter when your husband and children get up.

8. Teach your children Deut 6:7 (I know these two points won’t apply to many of you yet.)

9. Purpose to get up. Set the alarm (When I was first trying to start this habit I would set the alarm for I time I knew I would actually wake up at, and pray the night before that God would help me to wake up and spend time with Him the next morning. Then when I got comfortable with that time I would set the alarm for five minutes earlier, and keep up this pattern until I had reached my goal, praying through the whole process. It worked really well for me.)

10. Aim for more time. Something is better than nothing and always aim for more. Donna (a mentor of George’s) shared with me that she did not allow herself to spend more time in any personal activity each day that you spent in the Word of God. (Wow! What a change that would be in my life!)

Five Disciplines for Developing a Passion for Prayer

1. Make a commitment. I know that for the first ten years of my life as a Christian, I flopped flailed- and failed! –in this vital area of prayer. It wasn’t until I made a written commitment that I began to seriously put in the work that the spiritual discipline of prayers demands. These were simple words, but they communicated my heart’s desire to God and defined my commitment-“Lord, I dedicate and purpose to spend the next ten years (lord willing) developing a meaningful prayer life.”

2. Realize that prayer is not optional. Decide that you will set aside some portion of time each day-alone-for prayer. That time can be five, ten fifteen minutes, or more. Once you’ve determined the amount of time, settled down in a place (your prayer place), set a timer (if it helps) and actually gone about the task of prayer, I think you’ll find that, as the sweet hymn bids us, you’ll want to “linger a while with Jesus.”

3. Refuse to miss a day. Like any muscle, the “muscle” of prayer must be used regularly to grow stronger.

4. Study the prayers of the Bible. (She mentions All the Prayers of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, which sounded interesting to me.)

5. Study the prayers of the saints through the ages. One volume I (as a woman!) especially love is The Prayers of Susanna Wesley. I appreciate two things about these prayers. First, Susanna Wesley had a passion for God and a passion for prayer…Second is the fact that Susanna Wesley gave birth to 19 children! (talk about BUSY!) Without domestic help-and without her husband’s presences for much of the time-she cared for her babies (nine of whom died) and her lively brood, schooling them herself….and yet she still set aside time for prayer. When I think of this dear woman and her taxing circumstances, I can only surmise that…there goes every woman’s list of excuses for not praying!

I am blessed to have had in the past a wonderful, godly, older woman who taught me one of the great lesson of living and managing the Christian life. She cautioned, "Never major in the minors"....And now it's time to look at your life, dear one. What are the current raging passion of your heart? Evaluate your activities, the way you spend your God-given time. Such an exercise will reveal your passions. For instance, I know women who work scrapbooking...all night long! It's an out-of-control passion! I know women, too who stay up half the night reading...Beloved, these activities are "minors".

In this book we're addressing-and dreaming of-a life that's lived with passion and purpose. We're attempting the better management of our lives so that we better life out God's plan for us."

What challenging words! I plan on copying all the lists of personal disciplines into the Moleskin note book I carry in my purse, so maybe some of these things will start to take root in my life.

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