Summer is an important time for rest and relaxation, a time to be refreshed and recharged. It is also a wonderful time to focus on some spiritual disciplines that tend to be pushed aside during our regular schedules. These practices are able to give us the spiritual renewal we need to face the hectic fall schedules and responsibilities. There are many activities that are considered spiritual disciplines. Prayer, fasting, meditating on God and His Word, worship, and concentrated Bible study are some that come to mind. Three of these are on my heart today; extended times of prayer, biblical fasting, and in-depth Bible study.
Extended Time of Prayer
A good friend of mine has a ministry in our area to encourage and bless women. Once a month she opens her home for five women to come for a Personal Prayer Retreat. She offers a time and place that allows women to set aside the cares and demands of the world, and focus completely on God’s Word and what He is saying to them. It’s a time to bring life’s problems and cares to the feet of Jesus. The better part of one day is made available to be still and hear God’s voice. Ellen always begins the day by sharing what God has been teaching her. It never ceases to amaze me how her words are always so relevant to me. She often addresses an area of my life that I had not even been focusing on.
Although it helps to go away from your own home environment, away from the temptations of responsibilities and distractions, with great effort and discipline, you can have a Personal Prayer Retreat right in your own space. If you are not accustomed to long sessions of prayer, add several minutes to your normal prayer time. Do that again several days in a row. Begin your prayer time by reading from God’s word, and then move to your prayer list. After several days you will notice that time is going very quickly. A search on the internet may give you ideas for your personal prayer time. However, be careful not to allow this time to become rigid. Allow God to guide your thoughts according to His agenda for you.
Fasting added to the discipline of prayer is powerful. But it is one of the hardest disciplines for me to implement. When I put it into practice God speaks to me very specifically, and more powerfully than at any other time. If I am earnestly seeking Him, and listening, He reveals areas that I need to confess, and areas where He wants to help me to be more like Him. As I write this blog, I realize that it has been too long since I have put this discipline into practice. I found the following website which I am going to use to determine just how I will begin my fast. I know that the link speaks of “women”; however, as I read the article I see that it is not for women only, it will be helpful to men as well. http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/the-different-types-of-fasts-11626299.html
In-depth Bible Study
Psalm 119 describes numerous benefits to the study of God’s Word as it becomes ingrained deep within our mind, soul and spirit. Some benefits are promises that have conditions to be met before the promises can be fulfilled:
I am sure you would be able to add to both of these lists, and perhaps you can think of even more benefits of in-depth Bible study.
What portion of scripture should you delve deeply into? I suggest that you go to a passage of scripture that resonates with you. Read it over many times over several days. Stay with that passage and let the Lord really work it through into your life. Be sure to journal what God is saying to you over those days.
In these last days of summer, consider carving out some extended periods of time for a Personal Spiritual Retreat. Is there a special need in your life that you should be Fasting about? Determine to spend extra time in Bible Study. See how God prepares your heart and renews your mind, body, and spirit for the days ahead.
I would love to hear how God renews your soul. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Debi Snider... more