How, specifically, do you maintain your connection to the Vine?
I thought it might be edifying to share our various methods for connecting with God. I have struggled with what I always hear called “the discipline of daily devotions” for my entire life, but have found some things that have made a difference. Maybe we can learn from each other.
I hear you. I have discovered over the years that “devotions” is not necessarily equivalent to “read your Bible every morning”. Checking the checkboxes just makes me dejected after a while, BUT a mix of showing up in prayer, reading, and committing my day to God and asking Him where He wants to go seems to work a lot better. And that doesn’t always mean all those things every day. Oddly enough, that mirrors relationships here on earth a bit too: speaking, listening, and making an effort to know the other party. It’s hard to let go of feeling bad for not doing the politically correct thing every day and grasp relationship, but I think you hit the nail on the head – staying in the Vine is where it’s at.
I’m curious to see what others will say too! This is something I want to grow in.
To answer my own question: for the last couple years I have been filling a hard-back journal, one page front and back at a time, with my spirit-led thoughts about one Bible verse or passage at a time. I intend to do this daily, but don’t always manage that. For this reason, I chose a book that is NOT dated so that my OC nature would not be too stressed by missed days to just start up again when I can. I pretty much analyze the verse one word or phrase at a time, sometimes referencing surrounding verses or backstory information about the Bible story in question. Something valuable and useful and pertinent to my current life is always revealed. Incidentally, my original intent for this effort had been to simply choose a verse per week and copy it over and over in the journal until I knew it by heart; it was an attempt at scripture memorization since I am so terribly bad at that. But the Word spoke to me and the rest is history!
I also take notes during the Sunday sermon. It helps what I hear to stick better if I write it down and then look at it again after the service. (And then I have notes to refer to when I try to share what moved me…)
These are such small actions, but reap such huge rewards!
Christ IS my life (Col. 3:4). He’s not just my #1 on a priority list. I am in Him and He is in me. He is the sweet love of my soul, He’s everything to me, He’s all I hope to be. There’s not a time that He isn’t taken into account, I talk to Him, He talks to me, I listen, He listens. He calls, I go, but not alone. He strengthens, I do (act). My flesh wants to act out, the Spirit checks me. I stumble, He picks me up. I sin, He forgives. Any righteousness in me, He gets all the glory. In everything, He’s working it for good. He is my all in all.
Even in the season I was as (in)capable as an infant, with a mind so numb and scattered I couldn’t even pray beyond a line, or when attempting to study there seemed to be nothing. I had learned the blessed beauty of silence and just being held in His presence. He showed me that He wasn’t punishing me or scolding me because I wasn’t practicing the disciplines we “ought to do”, He loved me and sang over me, knowing full well my limitations, much like a grandma holding her newborn grandson (Real life turned spiritual lessons.) As we see in Hosea, He called me out into the wilderness, not to punish me, but to show acceptance of me and to lavish His love on me… nothing takes “works” out of a picture quicker than being incapable to do so, and love and grace is all we have left.
But to the disciplines I do because Christ is my love and my life….
1) I am a studier. I am not a “reading plan” person. As soon as I hit Leviticus, I putter out. I like Bible studies that dig deeper into the Word. My Bible studies typically require six days a week of work and commitment. But guess what, when we have weeks (or a summer) with nothing, I don’t feel guilt and condemnation because I am not cracking open The Book, daily.
2) I talk (pray)….as I study, as I go about my day, for others, with others, about little things and big.
3) I fellowship. There’s nothing like being unified with the body of Christ, at church, in homes, and online.
4) I disciple and serve. I am always trying to point others to Christ, in word and in action. This is our #1 mission in our family and homeschooling, to train up our children in the way of the Lord, so that they will love and live for Christ, academics fall in the shadow of that priority….and it spreads out to our neighbors, our city, and wherever we go.
Keeping close to God?
Working the night shift at a grocery store (that isn’t open 24 hours) gives me a chance to listen to several Christian podcasts, both sermons and other, as well as a Bible listening plan (NT, Psalms, Prov in 6 months)
Although my handle (same as on old forum) is based off my wife’s name…
Over the years I have used various methods. I have read through the Bible multiple times. Sometimes I journaled. Other times I have done more in-depth study. I like that the most!
But I have also thought about the fact that for millennia God’s people didn’t have their own Bible (or the ability to read even), yet they maintained a close walk with Yahweh or Jesus. So, I’m less hard on myself than I was during my younger years about what I do or don’t do devotionally.
I believe more is almost always better and so is being regular. Yet, I want to be sure that instead of merely reaching some personal goals or achieving some target, I am really communing with Jesus and enjoying intimacy with Him all day! (and when awake at night too)
Wow, I’ve been thinking about posting something along these lines. It’s a challenge for me to remain steeped in the Word, and I need as many ideas as I can get.
I’ve tried journaling, but have never stuck with it. I’ve never read the entire Bible, so that’s my current focus. I’ve got a Bible in one year plan on the YouVersion app. But I’m something like 35 days behind. It’s tough for me to start a new habit. But I do like YouVersion for its free access to different Bible translations, and it’s devotionals. I’m doing the Advent devotional now, and it’s been very eye-opening.
Nice question and good answers. This is something I have struggled with for years. I also am a perfectionist in some areas, which wreaks havoc with me!
I struggle with guilt, because I am not reading my Bible enough, or praying enough, or praying in the right way, such as kneeling versus going about my day and talking to Jesus. Than, I wonder, do I even hear His voice? What is His voice?
For praying, someone gave me a ‘schedule’ to go by. I adjusted it for myself, and I am really happy with it. A load lifted off my mind, with that list. I pray morning and evening, when I am laying in bed. Occasionally, I will kneel down during the day, if I am burdened about something.
For Bible reading, I read either a chapter or part of one at a time. I try to do it every day, but don’t quite always manage. My mind and life are so busy right now, its the hardest thing for me to sit still and wait in God’s presence. Besides, its very difficult for me to feel wrapped up in His arms. Impossible, actually. But, thats the place I want to get to, where I actually feel SAFE in His arms.
I also downloaded a Bible app. So, I read some on that. With that, though, it doesn’t seem to soak into me so well, likely because I am doing it to pass time while I wait.
I want to start journaling eventually. I’m like Duchess. It will be an undated book. Otherwise, I miss a day or 2, and thats very hard on me!
I think communing with God through the day is important but I find that some focused time in the morning makes a huge difference to my day. But I am not a morning person! If I get up and try to read my Bible right away I will process very little. I love listening to music first and worshipping by singing along, then praying, then reading my Bible. That usually is a good flow for me. I usually try to get through the psalms once a month unless I’m focusing on another part of the Bible or a Bible study. I don’t manage to do this every day but it’s the goal.
The four (4) disciplines pointed out by @SC are superb and are shared disciplines by Mrs. Oldbear and me.
Regarding being into the Word on a daily basis, one free app (iPhone, iPad, etc.) that is quite good is BIOY. It’s produced by Nicky Gumbel, founder of Alpha. It’s a 25 minute daily devotional that draws from a Psalm/Proverb reading, a NT passage, and an OT passage. Each reading is followed by a recap of key thematic points and a prayer. I’ll read the daily devotional with my morning cup of coffee or listen to it (the audible version is of a scripture reader and Nicky’s voice plus a wrap-up thought by Pippa, his wife) while walking or working out. Of course, the lilting English accent is delightful.
In addition, we pray with each other – a lot. Sometimes it’s on the spur of the moment, other times it’s when a concern for others or family member comes up in our conversation. At bedtime, I often pray before we kiss and say goodnight.
Others have mentioned the value of journaling. That’s been one of my joyful and beneficial disciplines throughout my life. My journaling centers around a nugget gleaned from the Word and reflecting on its application to my life. Periodically, I’ll read an old journal – always revealing and refreshing.
Lastly, I keep an online prayer list (using a Prayer app). This keeps me accountable and faithful to my commitment to pray using the ACTS (Adoration of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Confession of my sin, Thankfulness for His blessings, and Supplication for the prayer requests) steps of prayer.