At the end of a sermon series called “Living Deep,” my pastor handed out a list of steps to help us go deeper in our faith. The seventh step on his list is “simplify your life and make time with God a priority.” I can see why he phrased it the way he did. Our lives can become so full and complicated that it’s hard to make time with God a priority. But you simply can’t go deeper in your faith without spending time in prayer, worship, and spiritual reflection.
Simplify your life
One way to simplify your life is to stop chasing things that don’t really satisfy. Solomon wrote, whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. So much of what we do with our lives is meaningless. The pleasures of life are fleeting.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NIV)
Jesus said we shouldn’t spend time worrying about even our most basic needs like what we’re going to eat or what we’re going to wear. God cares for us and he knows what we need.
To simplify your life, find contentment and joy in the basics of life. Be content with less.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8
When you simplify your life, your priorities change. You stop serving money. You stop trying so hard to prove your worthiness. You stop loving this world and the superficial things it has to offer.
Between work, family, recreational, social, and other activities, our days fill up quickly. These days, it seems like everyone is busy. Being seen as busy has almost become a form of competition or a badge of honor. What does our need to seem busy really say about us? Do we need reassurance that our lives have purpose? Just as we should stop trying to find meaning in things, we should stop trying to fill the void or sense of emptiness, with meaningless activities.
I work full-time but busyness is not what keeps me from making time with God a priority. During my downtime, I am distracted by social media and television. My mind is led astray from my sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).
When I think about the impact of distractions on my spiritual life, I’m reminded of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). When the farmer scattered the seed, some of it fell among the thorns which choked out the plants. The worries of the world and the meaningless ambitions of this life can keep the message of Jesus from bearing fruit in us. They can keep us from making time with God a priority.
Prioritize time with God
Jesus said that our first priority should be to seek his kingdom and his righteousness. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21, 33). Apart from God, I have no sense of well-being (Psalm 16:2). Apart from God, my heart is restless. My soul hungers and thirsts for God.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. – Augustine
I want to make time with God a priority because the Lord restores my soul. He is my refuge and my strength. He fills me with shalom, the inward sense of completeness or wholeness. With God, I can sing, it is well, it is well with my soul!
Come all who are thirsty. Why waste your money on bread that doesn’t give you strength and your labor on things that do not satisfy? Listen, listen to God for the life of your soul is at stake (Isaiah 55:1-3).
I want to make time with God a priority because the Lord redeems my life. Every day, he crowns me with love and compassion (Psalm 103).
I want to make time with God a priority because his word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105). His law is perfect, refreshing my soul. His statutes are trustworthy, making wise the simple. His precepts are right, giving joy to my heart. His commands are radiant, giving light to my eyes. His ways are more precious than gold, sweeter than honey. (Psalm 19:7-11)
When I make time for God, his priorities become my priorities. When I live in accordance with his Spirit, my mind is set on what the Spirit desires. I want what is good. My ambition is to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. This is meaningful.
I struggle to make time with God the priority that it should be. I talk to God every day. I read the Bible but usually don’t spend much time studying or reflecting on what I have read. I confess that I can be spiritually lazy.
Lord, I want to make it my ambition to lead a quiet life; to be in your presence; to listen patiently for your voice; to seek your face; to pause and reflect at the end of each day. May this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Reading List: 1 Chronicles 16:11 Psalm 46:10; 131:1-2 Isaiah 55:1-2 Micah 6:8 Matthew 6:21-33 Luke 16:13 John 6:35, 14:23 Romans 8:5-6 2 Corinthians 11:3 1 Thessalonians 4:11 1 Timothy 6:6-8 1 John 2:15-16, 28