Here’s one of the biggest challenges facing Christians today: we cannot grow in God without investing time, but time is exactly what we feel we don’t have!
If this really is about relationship rather than religion, then things like reading the Bible, prayer, worship, listening to God are not just tick-box activities that we ‘should do;’ rather they are like gazing into our lover’s eyes and spending quality time together. This shift in mindset takes away some of the legalistic pressure, but in a different way it makes such time even more important. Time with God is as important to our Christian walk as time with my wife is important to my marriage…but where do we find the time?
Find the time. It can feel like a hunt in the dark or looking for a needle in a haystack. When we’re surrounded by the busyness of life with work, family, home, admin, chores, friends, hobbies, church…where do you find any more minutes in the day let alone hours?! One of the big changes for us came in moving to London commuter belt and suddenly finding that my wife’s journey to work jumped from 15 minutes to 1 hour each way…add 2 hours of travel into an already squeezed schedule and ‘time with God’ becomes a pipe dream! (And we don’t even have kids yet!)
So what can we do? As someone who genuinely wants to grow in relationship with God, but also feels the pressure of competing responsibilities…what can we do?
Shift. A mind-set shift is helpful here. ‘Finding time’ often starts from the assumption that we don’t have enough of this scarce commodity. I want to suggest to you that there is always enough time to do what God has for us to do…and what He has for us to do is all we need. The challenge is that we don’t start with a blank slate, we start with time already allocated, 24 hours a day, to a host of different things. Yet this is where the Christian life always begins: when we first met Jesus we weren’t a blank slate; the difference Jesus made wasn’t giving us something to do, but was redeeming who we already were. We don’t need to ‘find time’ as if it doesn’t exist already – we already have it. Rather we need to let Jesus come in and ‘redeem the time we already have’.
What does that mean?
It means asking ourselves how we take every moment of the day and invite Jesus into it, to make every minute time spent with God. When we wake up: praise God for a new day before we get out of bed; as we shower talk to God about anything in life we want washed off; making breakfast thank Jesus for all His provision and pray for the things we need; if we’re making breakfast for others or school lunches, talk to God about the needs of others or the people we’re preparing food for; as we walk through the door at work take a moment to tell God we’re working for Him today so come and fill every task; and on and on we go….!
It means more than that. It means also asking ourselves: ‘Are there any times of the day that can be given wholly over to God?’ A prime target for this is TUBE TIME…
…Here is a thought we may not have noticed: if you commute to work/school then everyday you have a set amount of time where you can do nothing else but travel. If you’re on the tube then you have a set amount of time with no phone signal, being uncontactable, where you can’t be expected to do anything for anyone else…all you can do is sit there (or stand with your face in someone’s arm pit…I know!)…and spend time with God….
….Here are 3 simple tools that can help you do that:
This is an amazing resource specifically designed for people to use as they travel. There is a daily mp3 podcast that lasts about 12 minutes. It has reflective music, a Bible reading, some questions to think about, then the reading again, finishing with some directions for prayer. I have found this an incredibly helpful tool for bringing me into a place of peace and focus on God.
God bless the Church of England! You can download an app to your phone/tablet that brings up automatically the liturgy for Morning, Evening and/or Night Prayer. I have been loving this recently! You have right in front of you a series of prayers, readings from Psalms, the Old Testament and the New Testament, followed by some more prayers. There are even martyrs or saints for particular days that you can look up and read about on Wiki if you like. Takes about 30 minutes and I have found a really valuable way of regular Bible reading interspersed with Prayer.
Another app that in one sense simply gives you the Bible on your phone…but also comes with a whole series of reading plans from 2 weeks to a whole year. There are plans for focusing on particular topics or for reading through all/chunks of the Bible. It pops up with the reading for the day and ticks them off. And if you get behind you can simply reset the reading to continue from today.
All 3 of these are simple ways to sit on the tube (or bus or…for the first one…car or walking…), turn on your phone, and be with Jesus. If you take a few moments before you start just to close your eyes and become aware of God’s presence and ask Him to speak to you…then you can find the tube becomes your chapel, not your chain.