Now that I've got all the physical bases covered (rest, eating well, exercise, fresh air), I'm going to write a little bit about the spiritual undergirding of my life: Bible reading and prayer.
This is one of those habits that is very easy to overlook because it doesn't seem urgent. After all, we have to eat and sleep every single day. If you go for a few days without food or sleep, your body will rebel. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially daily life with children, it's a challenge to fit in something as quiet and seemingly non-essential as read the Bible and praying. I know this because I find that it's a challenge to maintain this habit in my own life.
As a Christian I genuinely believe that the source of my patience, kindness, wisdom, endurance, hope, peace, and joy is Jesus Christ. As a human I naturally gravitate to relying on my own strength to muscle my way through the day. But my own strength can only last for so long!
As a Christian I also believe that daily Bible reading and prayer is important to worshiping God, to remembering Who is in charge of my life, to having reminders of what the Gospel is all about, to presenting my worries and concerns and questions to God, to confessing my sins.....so it's a practice that should be a daily habit for me as a Christian.
I'm a student at heart; I love to learn. I love to read, study, dissect, ponder, write, research. So I have to be careful about Bible study because so often I'll start reading a passage and one question begets another question and then another and before long I've looked up a passage in various translations, am trying to find background information, and am looking up what various theologians might say about the matter. For years this was "Bible study" for me and it's no wonder I rarely had time to do it--it took forever to read the Bible in this way!
I have to resist doing this because I don't have time to do it every day. Sometimes I do have time to research and I love it! Our pastor is very good, in sermons and Bible study, about "diving deep" while still keeping the big picture of the Bible at the forefront of our thinking. So I'm learning that I don't have to do research during my Bible reading time. I can actually just....read the Bible. If I have extra time to do more in-depth research, I'll happily tackle it, but I no longer feel that I need to do that every single time I open the Bible. It's so freeing to realize this.
Some days I'll just read one chapter and write down one verse (or underline it) that really jumps out at me--and maybe write a few words about why this verse has struck me. So often I read something and it speaks to exactly where I am, exactly what I need. That's the power of the Living Word!
I personally like to read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month (so, on the 15th, I'll read Proverbs 15), followed by a selection from the New Testament, and if I have time, a passage from the Old Testament. I also like to read whatever our pastor is preaching on; right now, he's preaching through the book of Mark, so it makes sense for me to try to focus on that a bit during Bible reading time.
Prayer is so easy to miss. I send up "flare prayers" throughout the day--asking God for help on something, thanking Him for something else--and I often pray at night as I fall asleep. But the best prayer time for me is when I sit down and truly focus my mind on communicating with God. (A few months ago I was doing this early one morning and had a burning question about the Old Testament and He answered me immediately. It was surreal and amazing.) When I can sit down and have focused prayer, I leave the prayer session feeling energized. I feel reassured. I am able to go through my day with the assurance that God's got this....He's got all of it.
I have a prayer binder, and I'd love to say that I'm faithful to pray with it every single day, but I cannot say that. I would like to try to use it more often, because I'll jot down prayer requests or even my own concerns, and it's so nice to have those right at hand when I sit down to pray.
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So my own challenge is finding the best time for Bible reading and prayer. I think that it varies based on season of life; for me right now, I've been trying to read the Bible and pray in the mornings, either before or after I exercise. I love starting the day off with coffee, the Bible, and prayer, and it works best for me after I exercise (before I exercise I don't drink coffee, and honestly, it's a little hard for me to focus in the morning without my coffee). But by then I am sometimes interrupted by a waking child. On days when I sleep in, I'm trying to be more thoughtful about carving out time after lunch or before bed to read the Bible and pray. It's not always easy, especially once the day gets rolling.
Even reading one chapter per day and praying for five minutes is a wonderful practice. I've learned that this doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. The key is making it a priority to open the Bible and read, and close my eyes and pray, each and every day, whenever that occurs!