Many people, in response to my post from last week have asked me this very simple question. “That’s all great to tell us to put God in the centre of our lives, but how do we do that?” It is a really great question. Encouraging people to put God in the centre of ones life is easy to do, hard in practice, at least that is my experience in the last 25 odd years of trying to do just that.
One of the mistakes people often make in this endeavour, and I am one of them is to mentally say to yourself, “I am going to spend 20 minutes a day with God.” Sounds fantastic, the only problem is we have not trained ourselves to this. Try this exercise. Sit quietly for 5 minutes. If you are like me, you will be climbing the walls after about a minute. There is a reason prayer, and spending time with God etc. is called a Spiritual discipline. It takes discipline to do it.
I swim at 5.30 am usually Monday to Thursday and sometimes on Fridays because that is “Flipper Friday.” However, it takes enormous discipline to get out of bed at that time to go and swim. Further, the distance I swim is up to 2kms. Now I don’t start out swimming 2kms. If I did, I would just about kill myself!!! No, started out swimming about 600m, and built it up. I also went to the gym, and got a Personal Trainer to give me a programme to follow to supplement my swimming and to increase endurance. I did get to 2km distance, and then I injured myself, and now I am working my way back up. I am up to 1.2kms at the moment. What is my point? Simply, just as in physical exercise, so with spiritual exercise we have to train ourselves to put God at the centre of our lives. Most people I know believe in God, most people have God on their priority list, however, most people do not have Him as No.1 on their list. I certainly don’t always. I try to, but other things get in the way. Thus it requires discipline to get God further into the centre of our lives and to make him No.1.
I suggest a few strategies;
- Prayer: We need to be saying our prayers each and every day. It can be as simple as, on our waking, saying the Lord’s prayer, or saying a short prayer such as,” I dedicate myself and this day into your keeping O Lord.” Can I also suggest that you, at the start set aside 1 minute of quiet reflection to start your day. This is especially important if you are like me, a busy, noisy person. We need quiet in our lives, and this is an easy way to achieve it.
- Reading God’s word: Each day we should spend sometime in reading God’s word. At St. Johns we have Lexio Divina which is a Mon to Friday daily readings produced by our Missioner, Bishop Michael. This year we will be exploring the Acts of the Apostles. The readings are short and are accompanied by a reflection. The Basic is Gold, which takes about 10 minutes to complete, then Frankincense for those who want a bit more information, this takes about 15 minutes, Myrrh is essentially a guided meditation which takes about 30-40 minutes to complete. This Lexio Divina is delivered to you by email and can be read on any electronic device. The Shofar is a weekly reflection on the Gospel for the week, and many people use it in the parish for their reading. It is downloadable from our website. There are other apps out there that can help you as well. The point is, there are a plethora of opportunities out there for us to read God’s word, it has never been more accessible, and I encourage people to utilise the opportunities. If you want more information please contact me.
- Quiet Time: In our busy world this is one of the most important spiritual disciplines we can do. I personally find this the most difficult, but also the most rewarding. Start off with one minute of quiet time not reading, not praying, simply saying something like, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.” Or, simply saying “Jesus” over and over. Another option is, “Speak Lord Jesus, your servant is listening.” In a very short space of time, that one minute will not be enough and soon you will be up to 5 minutes and then 10 and beyond.
These are three very simple ways to get started on making God the centre of your life. There are others, and we will discuss them further in the future. Once we start down this road we will soon discover the riches and blessings of opening our hearts and minds to the Lord, and those New Years Resolutions will fade into the past as we look to the New start, the New Resolutions we are capable of having with God in the centre of our lives.
With every blessing to you all,