Today I’m gonna share some thoughts on what I like to call “mastering” the daily.
Simply put, it’s a way of learning to surrender to Jesus and connect with Him all throughout the day: whether you have 10, 20, or 60 focused minutes to spend with Him each morning.
I hope these ideas will stretch your thinking about the whole “quiet time” process.
Quiet time is meant to deepen
your connection with God – NOT replace it!
WHY QUIET TIME?
That’s actually a great question. Here are a couple simple answers.
1 – Because being a disciple is first and foremost a relationship with Jesus.
He doesn’t just tell the truth, He is the Truth. He doesn’t just show the way, He is the way. When we signed on as disciples of Jesus, we not only chose Him as our Lord, but also our closest friend and teacher. And there’s no other way to learn from Him and become like Him—than to spend actual time in His company.
In this crazy counter-kingdom world, it’s very difficult to “master” the daily and surrender our lives to Christ without spending regular time with Him, apart from the hubbub and distractions.
2 – As a car engine needs oil, so our hearts and minds need God’s truth and love flowing through them at all times.
I love this story about the great evangelist, D. L. Moody. He was once asked why he talked so much about being filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit.
He was quick to answer: “Because I leak.”
3 – None of what I’ll share today is the ultimate “right” way to connect with God daily.
There are probably as many ways to connect with God as there are people. Yet there are also a few tried and true methods that have helped many through the years (myself included) to connect with God, so I’ve included some of them here.
So please feel free to pick and choose – or even come up with your own ideas – ask you seek to connect more deeply with God’s Presence and truth in the daily life you actually have.
PRIMING / ABIDING / RE-ABIDING
Have you ever had to pump the handle of a Windex bottle to get the sprayer going? That’s how daily time with God works. We’ve gotta spend some time each day priming the pump of God’s Word and His Spirit to keep His truth and love flowing through our lives. (otherwise our hearts and minds get “clogged up” with the muck of living in a fallen world)
Here’s a three-word reminder to help keep your spiritual well from running dry: priming, abiding, and re-abiding.
PRIMING – getting connected
Start the conversation with Jesus…
Get the Word and the Spirit flowing through your heart and mind as soon as possible each day.
CONNECT WITH GOD
- Relax in His Presence as you drink your morning coffee.
- Dialogue with Him as you prepare for the day.
- Or maybe go for a short walk and enjoy “the book of nature” as you and God enjoy time together. (Even walking around your house or apartment building briefly can be effective, if you’re short on time.)
CONNECT WITH HIS WORD
- Read or meditate on God’s Word – whether it’s a verse, passage, or chapter, or chapters.
- As important as it is to get in the Word regularly, it’s even more important to get the Word in YOU.
- So yes, challenge yourself – yet also choose an amount you can truly digest each day. (The amount can increase over time – but especially at the beginning, don’t overwhelm yourself by biting off more than you can chew!)
- REMEMBER: Priming doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it does take some.
ABIDING – staying connected
He’s the Vine, we’re the branches…
- Continue in conversation with Him as you go through your day.
- Set prayer reminders on your cell phone.
- Pray deep breath prayers to remind yourself that He’s closer than your very breath—and always there with you.
- Wiggle your toes to remind yourself your “roots” are in Him.
- As you go through the day…
- Tell God: “Thank you that You are with me today…”
- Ask God: “Please give me power for this task or challenge.”
- Ask God: “Lord, how would You approach this situation?”
- Keep alert: “What is Jesus’ perspective on what I’m facing?”
- Ask yourself: “Is my spiritual tummy feeling full or empty?”
- Ask yourself: “Do I need to reconnect with God for a moment?”
RE-ABIDING – reconnecting
Repent, reconnect, and re-abide…
REPENT / RECONNECT / RE-ABIDE
Ever find yourself not abiding? If so, don’t panic. Just follow The 3 R’s of Re-Abiding and you’ll be back on track before you know it.
- Agree with God that you’ve gotten off course.
- Stop what you’re doing and make a U-turn.
- Head back in God’s direction.
- Tell God you love Him.
- Recommit yourself to His ways.
- Briefly pray / Review Scripture cards or Bible app
- Take the next logical step of obedience.
- Don’t overthink it—just do it.
- Continue abiding.
- (yep, it’s that easy!)
SPIRITUAL FITNESS 101
For those who prefer a bit more detail, here’s another analogy for you. In many ways, the process of staying spiritually fit is similar to staying physically fit. Feel free to adapt these principles in any way that helps you draw closer to God and walk in obedience to Him.
WARM-UP: Starting Each Day with God
Ideally, your morning time with God is the beginning of an unhurried conversation between you and Him that is meant to continue throughout the day. The warm-up is probably the most neglected part of a physical workout. We get in a hurry and forget, or we don’t think it’s necessary in the first place. Yet without a warm-up, we run the risk of injury or burnout.
We often do the same thing with our spiritual fitness. We rush into our day without connecting with God, hoping against hope that whatever truth and love we have in our spiritual tanks will be enough. Or we try to cram our whole day’s conversation with God into one brief period in the early morning. Both approaches shortchange our connection with God and leave us vulnerable to spiritual injury or burnout down the line.
Start your daily spiritual warm-up by finding someplace quiet, being still before God for a few moments, and letting your heart be refreshed by the simple beauty of His Presence.
(even two to five minutes can make a huge difference)
It doesn’t take long to pause, take a deep breath, and say Good morning, Lord. I love you. I can’t wait to live this day together… Once you establish a warm-up routine with God, it can change the tone of your morning—not to mention your whole day.
EATING HEALTHY: Feeding on Scripture
God’s Word is nourishing to our souls. Feeding on His truth satisfies our deep hunger for meaning and perspective. The Bible is also filled with practical principles for daily living, which provide the nutrients we need to grow strong and healthy. So spending regular time reading, studying, and mediating on God’s Word is a must for growing disciples.
The good news is, we don’t have to read the Bible for hours and hours each day to start reaping the benefits. If you think of the Bible as a huge smorgasbord, it’s only common sense that we can’t eat everything in one sitting. It’s often helpful to start small and work your way up to more intensive Bible study so you don’t get discouraged.
Here are a few Bible reading ideas to whet your appetite.
- Choose a book of the Bible and read it in small portions each morning. (examples: John, Philippians, Psalms, or Proverbs)Eating a sensible spiritual meal each morning will go a long way toward energizing your spirit for the day ahead.
- Use a daily devotional app, like Jesus Calling or Neil Anderson’s Freedom in Christ, which both include brief Scripture readings.
- Google verses/passages that apply to your current situation and write them out on 3×5 cards—then put them in your purse or tape them to your dashboard or mirror. You may even want to personalize a few verses into your own Scripture prayer to renew your mind in specific areas.
SPIRITUAL CARDIO: Two-Way Conversation
Prayer is central to our relationship with God. In fact, it’s the very the air we breathe. Yet for many new believers, prayer can be an uncomfortable experience. They may feel intimidated, unworthy, or afraid they won’t do it “quite right”—as if everyone else has read “the perfect prayer manual” and they didn’t get the memo.
The devil wants to convince you that prayer is difficult, or even impossible. Yet in truth, it’s quite simple: Prayer is a two-way conversation between you and God.
You share your heart…and He shares His.
You ask for help…and He answers.
He instructs…and you listen.
Talking with God on a regular basis, frankly and directly, lets Him know you’re interested in drawing closer and hearing His voice. Even a few short minutes a day is a great start, especially if that turns into a regular habit.
Yet as important as daily time with God is, our last spiritual fitness habit may be the one that encourages Him to speak to us the most.
WEIGHT LIFTING: Daily Obedience
Helpful as spiritual warm-ups are, there’s no way you’re fitting into your skinny jeans on warm-ups alone! For that you’ll need the whole workout.
And the whole workout requires obedience.
You might even call obedience the heavy lifting of the spiritual disciplines. (lifting our “chooser” and moving it forward in faith)
As it turns out, obedience is one of Jesus’ favorite subjects. At one point He even said, “If you love Me, you’ll obey Me.” To some this might seem the teeniest bit legalistic. After all, I thought Jesus was all about grace and forgiveness, not rules and regulations, right?
Yet picture this scenario for a moment.
Imagine you have an assistant who hangs on your every word. She follows you around, consults you constantly, and writes down everything you say. Yet whenever you give her an actual assignment, she rarely takes steps toward doing it!
My guess is, that’s how God feels when we pour our enthusiasm into church, Bible study, and even great quiet times, without developing the daily habit of actually doing what He tells us to do.
On the flip side, when we make it a priority to do what He says, His heart soars with joy. C.S. Lewis’s literary mentor George MacDonald once said, “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.” In the long run, He will never be satisfied with anything less than total transformation. Yet in the short run, even our stumbling steps of obedience bring Him great delight. As Lewis put it, “Every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son.”
Too much learning and not enough obeying can lead to spiritual bloating, which is the direct opposite of the health and spiritual fitness we desire. On the other hand, one of the benefits of acting on God’s Word today—is He’s much more inclined to teach us more tomorrow!
COOL-DOWN: Thank You / Review
The other most neglected part of the workout tends to be the cool-down. Yet it too can pay huge dividends—if we take time to build the habit.
Spiritual Fitness Overview…
WARM-UP Starting Each Day with God (Psalm 5)
EATING HEALTHY Feeding on Scripture (Psalm 34:8)
SPIRITUAL CARDIO Two-Way Conversation (Philippians 4:6)
WEIGHT TRAINING Daily Obedience (Luke 11:28; James 1:2)
COOL-DOWN Thanking and Reviewing (I Thess. 5:18; Ps.119:66)
PREVIEW – DO – REVIEW
For a while now, God has been whispering to my heart this sing-songy phrase: Preview-Do-Review, Preview-Do-Review. And gradually, through much trial and error, I’m learning how life-giving this pattern can be. It gives us three chances to partner with God in everything we do—before, during, and after. This is especially true of our daily spiritual fitness.
Here’s how it works…
PREVIEW Morning time with God
DO Abiding & obeying during the day
REVIEW Evening overview
The practice of setting aside even five minutes each evening to review the day with God can help you press enter on what’s happened in the past twenty-four hours: things that went well, things that didn’t, lessons learned, perspective gained, and clarity for applying today’s lessons to tomorrow’s to-do list. This gives Jesus a chance to lovingly instruct us without having to chase us down. We just show up every night—or at the end of the workday—and briefly review the day with Him.
Once you’ve renewed your heart with gratitude, briefly review your day with Him. Tell the Lord what went well, what went poorly, and how you felt about it. Then listen for anything He might say to your heart in response. If He gives you any insight or instruction, soak it in and jot it down briefly. Then go to bed. It’s that easy!
WHAT’S A GOOD FIT?
As you read through these suggestions for spending time with God, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in overwhelm.
Does one in particular stand out to you? Even a simplified version of it? Then choose that one and go for it!
Learning to spend time with God – in a way that primes the pump on the rest of your day with Him – is more art than science, and it may take you some time to figure it out.
Don’t let the enemy freeze you up with performance anxiety. The bottom line is this: Your Heavenly Father loves you – and simply wants to spend time with you, revealing His heart and hearing yours.
You can do this. God will help. And a small step forward taken consistently will be far more effective than you can even imagine!
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. -Zechariah 4:10
If you’re new to abiding / spiritual fitness, I’d recommend starting small. Even fifteen minutes a day can get you on the road to a healthy heart. If that sounds overwhelming, then start with five. (yep, you heard right, five)
It’s far better to start small and build slowly than to set your goals too high and give up. For now, what’s most important is to decide on a time, place, and plan for this next week—and get started!
THE NEW SORT OF LIFE
To give you one last boost as you begin “mastering” the daily, I’ll leave you with an encouraging quote from C.S. Lewis.
It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. 1
And finally, here’s a PreScripture I’ve personalized for you. You can pray it regularly, as often as you need, to help reset your thinking about “mastering” the daily…
Here’s the audio version of the “Mastering the Daily” PreScripture…
And here’s the full PreScripture list…for both audio and PDF!
- IDENTITY IN CHRIST PreScripture
- “MASTERING” THE DAILY PreScripture
- WISH-I-KNEW BASICS PreScripture
- KING’S DAUGHTER PreScripture
- RELATIONSHIPS PreScripture
- SMASHING STRONGHOLDS PreScripture
- PASSIONATE PURPOSE PreScripture
- INVESTING YOUR INHERITANCE PreScripture
I’ll be sharing the remaining 6 PreScripture audios in future individual blog posts. And all 8 PreScripture audios (and printable PDF’s) are also available on the Drink In “Freebies” page on this website.
1 C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity, Chapter 8: Is Christianity Hard or Easy?