Intentional Living: Part 2 - Intentional Faith

I grew up in church. In fact, my parents met and married at the church I still attend today. It is where my husband was raised as well. Sometimes it’s easy to think that since I have been in church my entire life perhaps I am already spiritual enough. I have formed healthy spiritual habits such as regular church attendance, tithing and giving other offerings, regularly involving myself in the childrens’ and music ministries, and being involved in my adult Bible class. But all of those great habits are meant only to enhance and express my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If I do those things without that personal relationship they may still be very good things to do, but they are just a show on my part.

So how can I ensure that I have a close relationship with my Lord? How do you improve any relationship? Time - I must spend time with Him and time learning what His will is for my life. For me that involves doing four things regularly. I must spend time reading His Word each day. I need to talk to Him in prayer often (many times a day)! I read good Christian books that encourage and challenge me in my walk with Him. And I identify and work on specific characteristics that will make me more useful to Him.


Bible Reading

I will admit, I have struggled finding the right routine for my personal devotions. Toward the end of my time in college I found that doing my devotions in the morning worked great for me because I had late morning classes and lots of quiet time in the mornings. When I started teaching that was not the case. I rushed through my mornings just hoping to get out the door in time. I would come home exhausted from a long day of work, eat dinner, relax, and then head to bed. Often my head would hit the pillow and I would realize that I hadn’t even opened a Bible all day and I would struggle feeling guilty whether I got up and quickly read a chapter or two or stayed in bed and promised myself I would read the next day. What I failed to do was plan my devotional time into my day. Eventually I found a time that worked and did better, but it has always been hard to make my Bible reading time a true habit. Now that I am staying at home I have a quiet time each morning that is devoted to my Bible reading and reflection. I’m not going to try to convince you that I spend hours each day reading and meditating. I often read only two or three chapters. But I am methodically making my way through the Bible and I enhance my devotional time by reading a devotional book that a friend recommended to me. I am reading Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman and it has ministered to my heart time and time again as I have struggled with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss. I suggest that you find a time that works for you and write it into your daily schedule. And finding a great devotional book is a great way to be sure that you find something to chew on throughout the day even if you’re reading in Leviticus and just trying to make it through what I call the “begats.”

Prayer Time


My prayer time is also something that I have struggled with. I recently read a book called The Me I Want To Be by John Ortberg. I would love to share with you some more things I learned from this book in the future. But one thing this book changed my perspective on was prayer. I am striving to make more of an effort to stop and talk to God throughout the day in all kinds of circumstances. It’s easy to think that we should save prayer for serious decisions and hard trials, but God wants us to bring everything to Him! One of my favorite times with Him is after the lights are out and my husband is snoozing away. I lie in the dark and talk to God about my day thanking Him for each tiny blessing I can remember. I have poured my heart out to Him about all kinds of things - big and small. I usually fall asleep while talking to Him this way, but I don’t really feel guilty about that. What better way is there to end your day than by dozing off while talking to the Lord?

Christian Books


I have written down on my own personal goals to read at least one chapter of a good Christian “self-help” kind of book each day. Notice, I said I have this goal written down - not that I have achieved it. This is a habit I am still trying to form! I don’t think it’s important that you read a certain number of books each week or month. I think what is important is that you are filling your mind with something godly and helpful. Reading Christian books is a great way to challenge yourself to live for the Lord in all areas of your life. Right now I am reading The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. If you don’t know of a good book to start with ask around! This is a great way to enhance your walk with the Lord!

Self-Improvement


Finally, I think it’s important to always work on improving who I am. I have many flaws. Sometimes someone will point one of my flaws out and I want to say, “You think I don’t know that about myself? I hate that about myself!” While I think it’s actually detrimental to spend lots of time focusing on my flaws, I do think it’s necessary to spend time working on characteristics that I do want to have. The difference is that instead of beating myself up for my impulsiveness in conversation I can instead focus on trying to speak less and listen more. Does that make sense? That, by the way, is my current area of improvement. I am working on being more delightful in conversation - meaning, I need to be quieter in conversation! Imagine that! You may want to work on things like being friendly, thoughtful, efficient, encouraging, etc. The Lord knows I need to add all of those to my list as well!

How are you living out your faith intentionally? Do you have a plan? It’s easy to just hope that we find time to fit these things in, but unless you pencil them into your schedule and write your goals down you are not going to make the progress God wants you to make! And don’t just write your goals down - refer to your written goals daily. The more you read them the more likely you are to accomplish them. Pray for me as I purpose to live a life of faith more intentionally. I will pray that you are able to do so as well!



(This is part 2 of my series on living intentionally. Be sure to join me tomorrow to read about how I plan to have an intentional marriage!)

Comments

  1. I love reading your posts! They are so encouraging. I also fall asleep every night praying and I think it's a great way to end the day. :)

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