Daily time set aside to meet with God should be like a visit with your closest friend. We make time for close friends and look forward to their visits with us. The Lord cherishes time with us too. He is a God of relationship. He created use with a desire to have close and intimate relationships. First and foremost, we were created to have a relationship with Him and then with one another.
Why is it so vitally important for every believer to have a daily time with God? Although we “pray without ceasing” and walk with the Lord minute by minute, setting a special time of day to be alone with the Lord is vital to relating heart-to-heart with God. It helps to give a divine rhythm to our daily routine as we place ourselves in a position to hear from God.
Yet so frequently, as Christians we find it hard to commit to a daily time with God. Often, we fall into a rut of allowing our time to become a drudgery or an obligation.
Max Lacado writes that because some of us have tried and not been successful, we practice a type of surrogate spirituality where we rely on others to spend time with God and try to benefit from their experience.
Let them tell us what God is saying. After all, isn’t that why we pay preachers? Isn’t that why we read Christian books? These folks are good at daily devotions. I’ll just learn from them. If that is your approach, if your spiritual experiences are secondhand and not firsthand, I’d like to challenge you with this thought: Do you do that with other parts of your life? I don’t think so.
You don’t do that with vacations. You don’t say, “Vacations are such a hassle, packing bags and travelling. I’m going to send someone on vacation for me. When he returns, I’ll hear all about it and be spared all the inconvenience.” Would you do that? No! You want the experience firsthand. You want the sights firsthand, and you want to rest firsthand. Certain things no one can do for you.
The simple fact remains — if you truly want an intimate, grace-filled relationship with God, we have to spend time alone with Him on a regular basis.Listening to God is a firsthand experience.
Ralph Neighbour suggests that our meeting time with God would involve so much more than a one-way conversation in which we speak to God. He says, “It also involves listening to Him, and everyone needs a listening room where we can hear the directions of God for our own life and needs, the needs of others, and for His assignment to us.
A Japanese pastor invited an American pastor to visit his home. The Japanese pastor took his guest to a lovely garden behind the house, where a one-room cottage stood. The pastor explained. “This is my listening room.”
Our listening room is more an attitude, a value of our lives, than a special room built for that purpose. It is a condition in which we not only speak to Him, but also hear from Him. God does speak.
When we spend time listening for God to speak, He will! Our daily alone time with God gives us the opportunity to hear Him speak so that we can be encouraged.
Avoiding legalistic approaches to spending time with the Lord will help to keep the time fresh and inviting. First of all, we should never allow others’ expectations to manipulate our emotions and make us feel guilty for not devoting an hour or two alone with God each day. Although some people will easily spend an hour or more each day with God, others may have to start at five, ten, or fifteen minutes, and increase it over time. Allow the peace of God to rule in your heart about the time you believe God wants you to spend with Him. The best length of time spent with God is the time you will actually practice! Start with a realistic goal.
If you want your encounters to stay fresh, you cannot do it out of legalism but instead because you hear God calling you each day saying, “Arise, my love … and come away…” (Song of Solomon 2:10). If you miss a day or two, God is not disappointed in you. He always welcomes you back with open arms. He is thrilled when you seek a friendship with Him.
You should pick the time of day that works for you. It works best for me to spend time alone with the Lord in the morning. I find that I am most alert and can give God my peak concentration in the morning; but everyone is different. So find the time, readjust your priorities, and plan for it.
Two main activities of spending time with God are reading the Bible and prayer. The Bible is God speaking to humanity. Reading the Bible opens the door to communication from God.
Trying to listen for God’s voice without being dedicated to spending time in God’s Word on a regular basis will open us up to hearing voices that are not from the Lord. Knowing the written Word of God protects us from deception. There are many evil spirits ready to whisper lies to us if we are not prepared spiritually by reading and studying the Word of God regularly.
Knowledge of the Word is of vital importance to us in discerning the voice of God. If we don’t know the Word, we won’t have anything with which to compare the ideas and arguments that war against God’s perfect will for our lives. The devil can give us ideas that may make sense to us, but just because something seems logical does not necessarily mean it is from God. We may hear what we want to hear, but it doesn’t mean we have heard from God. Any idea can feel good to our emotions but fail to give us lasting peace when it isn’t in line with God’s Word.
Prayer is, of course, simply talking with God from our heart. It is a two-way conversation between you and God. When you spend time alone with a friend you start to understand your friend’s hopes, dreams, needs, and wants. You do this by speaking and taking the time to listen to your friend. Communication is incomplete if all you do is talk.
The more listening time you spend with your heavenly Father, the better you will understand His heart for you. Do not expect God to function simply as a drive-through fast food restaurant. While we may place our order (heart’s desire), we must take time to hear His heart’s desire on the matter. God always knows what is best and always has the timing exact.
God seeks to quiet the noise in order to make way for His voice to be heard. When is the last time you got away for an extended period of time without technology at your fingertips, where you just sat and quieted yourself by the beach, or simply closed the door and sat in silence waiting on God? Too often life is such a rush that we rush up to God, say a few hurried prayers and rush away again.
To hear God’s voice, we must learn to find ways to be quiet and listen for the Lord to speak. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and worship Him and Him only without distractions. The Bible says that Jesus departed to a lonely place to pray early in the morning (Mark 1:35), and after a day’s ministry, He went to a mountain to pray and be alone with God (Luke 5:16).
As you talk to God and spend a quiet time listening, you can draw on His presence and power to give your spiritual life energy and vitality. You will begin to understand Him better and know what He want you to do.
God desires our closeness. He wants our unwavering love. Developing a love relationship with the Lord changes us from the depths of our beings. We will learn to hear His voice more clearly when we spend time with Him. Let God have all of you as you develop a listening heart that is open to hear His whispers.