If you’re new to this and are wondering why I skipped some verses in Mark, then you should know something: This is a devotional, not a commentary. Between last year and this one, we’re going to at least read most of the Gospels. But in order to avoid repeating myself, we’re going to skip over some passages which will be covered in other studies.
I have to admit, however, that this is one of the most convicting passages in Scripture for me. Since the name of this blog is the TAWG, let’s spend a few minutes talking about that, shall we?
First off, we should note that there’s no specific command to spend time alone with God on a daily basis. We’re commanded to encourage each other daily as siblings in Christ. But I can’t tell you that we’re commanded to spend time alone with him daily. And since a lot of (or most) people who've been exposed to God's word have been illiterate, it wouldn't have been practical for him to issue a universal command to read the Bible every day.
But there are plenty of reasons to have some type of time alone with God every day. Since all of Scripture is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” then I think it would be a good idea to have a plan to systematically read all the way through it. Personally, my wife and I are on a 3-year plan, and (God willing) we’ll finish it next year. If you get into a routine of reading God’s word at least once a day, that seems like a good idea. And of course you’d want to spend at least a few moments in prayer, asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit and putting yourself in the proper frame of mind for listening to what he wants to say.
This needs some clarification, however. Although it’s great to have at least a few minutes each day in seclusion with your Father, that doesn’t limit you in how often you speak with him during the day. You can pray anywhere (just keep your eyes open while driving), and if you keep a copy of your Bible handy--and if you have a smartphone, then you always have it handy--then all the better.
Now let’s get to my least favorite aspect of this--the time when to do it. There’s no doubt about it: Our Savior was an early riser when it came to spending time alone with the Father. In fact, he literally was up before dawn in order to do this. There are really good arguments for doing this, of course. The pace and atmosphere of your day is set within the first fifteen minutes. If you spend the first few minutes grumbling and complaining about having to go into work and deal with that boss again, then you’ve got a negative day before you even start. But if you spend a few minutes alone with the Father in private worship, prayer, and Bible-reading, then that also will set the tone for your day.
But let me make a confession here. I don't normally have my full TAWG at the beginning of the day. I’m very much a night-owl, and that’s my most productive time. In the morning my brain takes a while to get up to full speed, and I wouldn’t get much use out of a full Bible study. So I do the next best thing—I pray for just a few moments, then go into my day. I reserve my full one-on-one time with my Savior for when my brain can actually focus on what we’re doing.
But let me close with this. No matter what time of day you do it, it’s best to be consistent. Try to find a time and place where there are a minimum of distractions. If you wanted to have an intimate talk with your spouse, then you probably wouldn’t want to do it while dodging cars during the morning commute or in the middle of a crowded restaurant. You’d find some privacy, so you could concentrate on what both of you are saying. It’s the same with this.
Right now your Father wants to say something to you. It might be a word of comfort for you during your struggle. It might be a nudge in a new direction for your life. It might concern a sin that you committed and never confessed, which will slowly drain you of your joy and peace. If you don’t slow down for a little bit, how would you ever know? Listen.
Yes Lord, I’m listening. Please slow me down. Please give me listening ears and a soft heart, so that you can change me.