I recently came back from Kansas City for my spiritual retreat and gained some insight into how I can sustain a level of spirituality that is consistently connected with God.
I felt the Lord say two things to me to really improve my time with him. They’re semi related: Remove distractions and press into his presence.
1. Remove distractions
I don’t know how your mornings look but one of the greatest battles I fight is to push back the tide of the tyranny of the urgent. Unanswered emails, new texts, breaking news, prepping for work, thinking about breakfast, thinking about lunch, etc…
These urgencies are played out in subtle ways in the morning while I’m trying to spend time with God. A glance at my phone, reading one article, responding to someone’s social lmedia post, starting some cooking process, etc.
What I learned is that these “subtle” ways are really romance killers when it comes to quality time with God.
Imagine a date night between a couple. In the middle of their great dinner, one of them is just on the phone the whole time. The other begins losing interest and the smile that once marked their relationship-buildling date is becoming a frown facing the reality of a seeing a great time ruined.
In the same light, do we realize how “unromantic” it is when we engage in distractions while trying to spend time with God? He is a deeply relational person and longs for distraction-free face-to-face encounter with us every day if we would but give him a focus worthy of his affections.
Moses spent 40 days on the mountain beholding God’s glory in his awesomeness. If we gave Moses a smartphone during his time up there, I’m curious as to whether God would’ve sent his butt back down there with how dishonoring he would’ve been tapping and flicking away.
Be “romantic”. Be engaged. Remove all distractions.
Peronally for me, that means no phones, no screens, no food, and no people. That time is completely dedicated to hearing from God. This is the strength of my life and this is how I guard that time.
2. Pressing into his presence.
This is really related to the first point because often times we are driven to pursue distractions because there is something amiss.
There are times in the morning when I’m stressed about something, worried about a situation, or simply because “I don’t feel anything”. Its at those mental junctures that my mind has a tendency to veer towards distractions. E.g. “I don’t feel anything… I wonder what’s going on the news.”
I felt the Lord encourage me: Don’t pursue distraction, but instead run in the opposite direction and press into his presence.
Pray outloud, worship, confess, do whatever it takes to be engaged. I find that God sees the hunger pains we experience and rewards the pressing in. This concept is reveberated in the book of Hosea as Hosea encourages his people to “press onto the know the Lord” because God’s response is as “sure as the dawn”.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.
Two keys for a great devotional time with God: Remove distraction and press into his presence.
As we critically consider our how we orient towards him, may our love for him increase all the more.