I signed up for a photography class when we first moved here to Spokane. The first day was memorable, mostly because I immediately fell in love with the 100-year-old building our class was being held in. But also because it was a fascinating indication of how the rest of our time together would unfold.
Right away, the serious photographers let us know who they were. There was an intensity to them that told the rest of us we were in over our heads. That and the equipment they were towing around could entice one to drool without even realizing it.
I, on the other hand, approached the class with a casual curiosity. The serious photographers were there to learn and grow while I was messing around with a hobby. And the results showed up in the quality of pictures we captured.
Our level of expectation affects what we get out of something.
A few weeks ago, I told you about the three questions I ask before I read my Bible every day. It doesn’t take me very long (10 minutes at the most), but it has transformed my morning time with God. These questions help me focus on what God’s already doing so I can be more expectant for what He’s wanting to speak to me as I open my Bible.
That’s the first part of my devotional time.
The second part is where I communicate with God in prayer.
Lots of people tell me they pray as they’re driving or doing chores. I do that, too. But there’s something to be said for focused attention to the conversation.
It makes Danny crazy when I try to multitask as we’re talking about something important. He wants my undivided attention. And he deserves it. The depth of our relationship demands it.
How much more does God deserve focused time?
For that reason, my morning time includes worship, surrendering my heart and will to God’s ways, and talking to Him about anything that has been plaguing my thoughts. Then throughout the rest of the day, I pray for needs and other people as I’m doing chores or driving.
After my morning prayer time, I answer three more questions:
- What’s the focus for today?
Lots of things are screaming for my attention. I need to be able to sift through what’s not important so I don’t miss what is. Letting God direct my focus has saved me, more than once, from spinning my wheels on something that I didn’t need to be focusing on.
2. Who are you going to encourage today?
People are the gold. Everything else is like the pieces of a monopoly game that are folded up and stashed back on the shelf when we’re done. Our careers, bank accounts, toys…all of it only matters if it’s leveraged to influence eternity. The only thing going with us from this life into the next one is people.
It’s one thing to know that and another to remember and live it out. So, I want there to be a place in my life where I let God direct my heart toward the relationships I need to invest intentionally in.
3. Whose potential can you help realize?
Let’s be honest. God doesn’t need me. The people around me don’t need me. What they need is God through me and that only happens if I get out of the way.
I can be a bit of a perfectionist and it causes me to hold back instead of step out to invest in someone else. When I ask this question in the Presence of God, I don’t get to qualify whether or not I think my contribution is worth bringing to the table. God’s in charge and if He puts it on my heart to invest in someone else, I do it with no questions asked and the least amount of hesitation I can manage.
God might want you to meet with someone else to have a devotional time together. Or He might put someone on your heart to invite to church or be in your small group for the fall semester. Sometimes the most valuable thing you have to give is an invitation into a life-giving environment where someone can realize their potential.
So that’s my second set of questions. I hope they help inspire you to create your own plan so that you get the most out of your time with God. If you’re just starting a daily time with God or restarting that practice, I would love to hear from you:
What are the biggest challenges you face? What practical things keep you motivated to carve out that time?