3 Ways to be with God
December 23, 2022 | Jeff Coleman
3-5 minute read time
Is it hard to prioritize spiritual practices like Bible reading, prayer, and silence? The New Year is an especially appropriate time to get “back on track” with our spiritual rhythms. When it comes to developing and maintaining spiritual rhythms (practices, habits, disciplines, etc.), I believe the secret sauce is found in three words. Simple, Accessible, Sustainable. Let me explain.
Simple: New spiritual practices must be simple. Don’t make it complicated. If you’re attempting something new don’t overestimate what you can do in week or month, but don’t underestimate what you can do in a year. Whatever you do, pick one (not two, three, or five) and keep it simple.
Accessible: Your new practice needs to be something that can be accomplished anywhere. You shouldn’t have to take a weekend retreat to a monastery. You should be able to enter God’s presence from anywhere. Plus, accessibility also means you don’t have to have special training, a degree, or some other level of experience. Besides, God doesn’t require those things to experience divine peace and grace.
Sustainable: Reading the whole Bible in a year is a great idea, but is it sustainable? Pick something that’s almost too easy so that you know you will succeed, which sets you up to try something else as you move on to something more challenging later. For example: If you want to read the Bible, instead of reading 1 chapter a day, why not try a chapter a week or one every two weeks?
Speaking of reading the Bible, we all know we should, but most of us aren’t sure where to begin and most aren’t sure how to even go about it. When people ask me where to start reading the Bible for the first time, I always give them the same answer. Start with the Gospel of Mark. Mark is the shortest Gospel, and it gives you an overview of Jesus’ life and ministry, and it reads like the script to an action movie. When you’re done move on to the book of James. James is about practical Christianity and how to live out your faith in everyday life. Plus, it’s the only book in the Bible with no theological language to trip you up.
OK, so that covers the secret sauce of spiritual rhythms, two books in the Bible to consider reading, but how should you read the Bible? In other words, how should you approach the reading of Scripture? Here’s three simple, accessible, and sustainable ideas (see what I did there).
Read Consistently: It is better to read a little every day than to try and knock out two hours of Bible reading in one sitting. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and certainly don’t compare your “performance” with that of others. If you miss a day or two, pick up at the next reading, but stay with it and DO NOT give up. Satan would love it if you’d quit reading the Scripture, but don’t play his game.
Read Prayerfully: Talk to God as you’re reading. Try not to rush through your Bible reading. If you come across something you don’t understand, pause for a moment, and ask God about it. Reading prayerfully is making space and time to talk with God AND giving Him time and space to talk to you. Taking time to meditate on God’s Word is just as important as reading it.
Read Expectantly: You are about to partake of the bread of life, so foster an attitude of expectancy. Believe that God is going to speak to you through His Word. Here’s a simple prayer I sometimes use before my Scripture reading: “Lord, this is your Word. It’s living and active and if you have anything you’d like to say to me then I’m all ears.” If God speaks, GREAT! If not, no worries, there’s always tomorrow. Come, however, with an expectation to hear from God.
The New Year is an excellent time to embrace some new spiritual rhythms, but whatever you do please . . . do what God does, which is give yourself an extraordinary dose of grace. If you miss a day, mess up for an extended period of time, just can’t quite seem to “get the hang of something,” or you wake up one day and are just too exhausted . . . it’s OK.
Spiritual practices are designed for us to experience God’s presence and grow in grace. They aren’t about how we execute them, the amount of time spent doing them, or the frequency of when they happen. 2023 is the year for us to “Be With God” because Jesus came to be with us so, why not enjoy his company and begin a new spiritual rhythm?