InPursuit

Cultivating The Practices That Deepen Your Faith {Book Club Thursday}


Welcome to Book Club Thursdays!

Own Your Life Book ClubWe’re reading through Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love (aff. link). For your convenience, all the posts in the series are archived {here}. So, if you missed any,  feel free to head on over and catch up. Or, to make life even easier,  subscribe to our Book Club Thursdays newsletter and receive all book club posts directly to your email!

Chapter 8: Cultivating The Practices That Deepen Your Faith {Owning the Spiritual Disciplines}

“Mom!” Her voice woke me up.

Ugh! It cannot possibly be that time already! Please go back to bed and let me sleep,’ I thought.

Mornings were dreadful. From the moment I opened my eyes, the kids pulled me in different directions. They wanted my attention and I was barely able to even manage attending to the morning necessities, like getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and cooking breakfast.

In the background I heard the talking and laughing, but to me it was all noise. Noise. Noise. Noise. Why can’t there be silence?! My face said it all. You know, that blank, I’m-so-disgusted-with-my-life-right-now face. Yeah, that was me. This cycle continued for a long time.

Something had to give. My mornings were led by my attitude and emotions. They were led by my desire to sleep and the inconvenience I felt to be woken before I was ready. My mornings (and the rest of my day) were run by the mood I woke up in. Something needed to give.

I needed Jesus. I needed time with Him at the onset of my day. I needed silence (because that’s just the way I’m wired), but I couldn’t take it out on the kids. My little one would wake up with joy and laughter and in less than 20 minutes I was already trying to shush her. Something just wasn’t right about this.

Understanding the Value of Spiritual Disciplines

I didn’t like this about myself. I didn’t like the attitude I felt towards my children when they did nothing but get up ready for the new day. As I started praying about this, I began to understand myself. I learned that it takes me about a good hour (hour and a half) to wake up fully. I’m not much in the mood for talking before then. If I wanted to be ready (mentally, emotionally, and physically) for my children in the mornings, then I’d have to wake up earlier.

This simple change in my schedule made it possible for me to have continuous morning times in prayer and in the Word. And, just like that my mornings changed.

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By the time my children awoke, I was ready to greet them for the day, and I welcomed their chatter and smiling faces. My daughter, especially, with her rambunctious energy no longer irritated me. Rather, I delighted in her and in her personality.

What I didn’t know then was that this simple discipline of getting up earlier was helping me to practice the most important discipline of spending time in God’s Word. Sally writes, “We cannot have the wisdom to own our life choices and behave prudently if we do not have God’s Word informing our thoughts. It is impossible to be godly and mature without spending extensive time with God.” This was me. I reeked of ‘immaturity’. But, time in God’s words began to change me in ways I didn’t even understand.

The Whys of Studying the Word of God

1The more I read God’s word, the more I understood how to live a godly life. I learned what it looked like in my every day. I learned to look at myself and be real with what I saw. I learned that, in Christ, I could be Spirit-led and not emotionally-led. I learned how to discern the messages that came forth from an alter. I learned truth and I gained my own personal (God-inspired) convictions.

  • God’s Word will make you prosper and succeed (Joshua 1:8).
  • God’s Word will show you how to make decisions and plans along your journey (Psalm 119:105).
  • God’s Word is as essential a food is in sustaining your life (Matthew 4:4).
  • God’s Word is the true source for helping you persevere in challenging times and for giving you hope (Romans 15:4).
  • God’s Word is alive to counsel us, make us sharp, and help us evaluate issues of the heart in our own lives and in our dealings with others (Hebrews 4:12).
  • To be effective Christian leaders, we must accurately understand an apply God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15).

The Bible is God’s voice in our lives. (Sally Clarkson)

Prayer

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Getting up earlier afforded me ample time for prayer. As I grew in my knowledge of the Word, my prayers changed. They no longer were desperate prayers, hoping God would listen and answer. Rather, I came boldly before the throne of grace because I knew what the Bible told me. I began to know more of God and so my prayer life was enriched. It grew. It blossomed. It became an anchor in my day. The quiet I so needed was being fulfilled and satisfied in my time with the Lord.

Except this quiet wasn’t just about silence. It was the kind of quiet that happens when God’s word perfects, establishes, strengthens, and settles us (1 Peter 5:10).

He was anchoring me in Him and I didn’t even know it!

 

Choosing Rest To Stay Spiritually Alive

And because this is an area I’m working through, I’ll let Sally share a bit here.  She recently celebrated her 60th birthday. So when this woman speaks, I lean in and glean from the wisdom gained in her lifetime.

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“When we are preoccupied with our work, we almost always exclude the person right in our midst who is hoping for relationship. Sometimes when we are shouldering too much responsibility, we worry and start to fret. Sinking under the weight of so much to do with so little time zaps our energy. God always seems farther away, life’s pressures feel unbearable, and our reactions to people, including our loved ones, becomes harsh when we live in a state of constant exhaustion. Eventually we likely end up with a serious illness, a bad attitude, and a frustrated faith.”

She encourages us to choose physical and Sabbath rest, and to refuel throughout our day with breaks in which we can refresh our body, mind, and soul.

“Refueling as a way to find joy, to create pleasure, and to celebrate life in the midst of all its demands fills our hearts with renewed hope. When we take the time to breathe, listen, and rest from the daily grind, we will slowly but surely begin to see miracles bubbling up in our lives.”

Cultivating the practices that deepen our faith is life-transforming. I’ve shared much on the blog about the difficult times we’ve had over the years. Without a doubt, I know that owning the spiritual disciplines in my life have made the difference between standing strong in faith through them and losing my mind in the storm. I’m so thankful for that first morning I chose to own my life by rolling out of the bed and making time with God a priority!

How about you? What spiritual practices have made a difference in your life? What has that looked like for you?  Let’s talk about it (feel free to do so in the comments section, on our Facebook page, or privately).

Then meet me here next week when we’ll continue Owning Our Lives By Partnering With God and Owning Our Faith.

Thoughts To Ponder

♥ Note: We’ve barely hit the surface here. Discussion questions will serve you best after reading the week’s chapter. 

1.) Do you see your time in the Word as a time of talking with God? What are some things that get in the way of this “friend time”?

2.) Does the idea of taking a Sabbath or regular times of rest appeal to you? How might you ensure that you set aside times to slow down and to quiet your heart before God?

3.) How can you fit habits into the rhythms of your day so you will gain spiritual strength?

*All quotes taken from Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life Book, unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

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