Monday, March 5, 2007

The R.O.A.D. to God

When I first started having a quiet time, I wasn't sure exactly what I supposed to do. I mean, I knew it should involve me and God spending some time alone, probably reading something in the Bible, and praying. But what should I read in that big book?! And how much? Then, my youth pastor shared with us a R.O.A.D. map for our quiet time, and it radically changed my Christian walk. So I wanted to share it with YOU - here it goes!

Take 15-30 minutes of your time each day when you are most alert and awake. (I'll tell you how I do mine later.) Some people are the most awake in the morning, and others don't wake up until halfway through second period. :) But DO remember that the further along you get in your day, there's more danger of "getting too busy." Don't let anything get in the way and cheat you out of your time with God. Before you begin, ask God to clear your mind and reveal something to you as you read the Bible.

Read through a book of the Bible. Pay attention to the details. When and where is this happening? Who is involved in the story? Who is talking? What is being said? What is the reaction of those involved? Why do you think this was written? To whom was it written?
As you read, ask yourself, what do you think God is saying here? Does it match other areas of Scripture? What promises are here for me to know and understand? How do I see myself in this story? What character can I relate to? Write down any verses that come to mind and your thoughts.
Examine your own heart. What is God trying to say to me? Why did he bring this piece of scripture to me now? How am I impacted by the revelation expressed in this passage? Talk to the Lord about what you have read. Ask Him, what are You asking of me? How does my life need to change?

Scripture is designed for transformation, not just information. Ask God to reveal to you how your life should be different now that you know this particular truth. Then, share what you have learned with a friend to encourage them and ask them to hold you accountable to what you have learned!

Now, notice that prayer was never a specific step within this. That's because you should pray throughout your quiet time! This is a CONVERSATION between you and God. When you've finished reading and journaling your thoughts, ask God for His power to act on His truth. Thank Him for all He has done in your life, and praise Him for who He is. Ask for His forgiveness where you need it. Talk to Him about your needs and concerns, as well as the problems you know others are facing. Pray for the friends you have who don't know Him as their Savior. Talk to Him like you would talk to your best friend or your dad - that's who He is!

Over the years, I've tried various ways of applying this - in the morning, at night, in the afternoon, whenever I felt like it...and I've learned the best way that works for me. Unless this is the first post that you've read of mine, you know that I'm a runner. You've probably also figured out that I don't exactly have a problem talking. My problem with prayer is that I tend to spend too much time talking and not near enough time listening. So one day, I decided that I would pray as I ran. After about four miles, I was pretty winded and couldn't talk I stopped. But here's the amazing part - God started talking! When I actually gave Him a chance to speak, HE DID! So now, I get up every morning (I won't tell you how early - it's crazy. I beat the roosters!) and read a passage of Scripture. After I've made sure that I understand what I've read, I take off running. I pray about everything going on in my life and about what I read earlier that day. Then, I shut up about 4 miles in and let God talk to me for the rest of my run. When I get back from my jog with God, I journal about what God has revealed to me. There is a point that comes where I have to get in the shower and get ready for work/class, but I always carry a notebook with me so I can continue writing as God reveals things to me throughout the day.

All of this to say is find what works best for you! I doubt there are many theologians that would tell you that the only way to pray is with your tennis shoes on, but that is what works best for me! Find something that is uniquely you and God...and stick with it!

Psalm 25

1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
2 in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.
4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
13 He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.
14 The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.
18 Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.
19 See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

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Esther 4:14b

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"