Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Change I Needed - part three

Just in case you missed the first and second parts of this discussion, you might want to go back and read.

This third part will hopefully give some practical help to anyone out there (like me) who needs it -- logistical help -- in Personal Worship.

Mrs. Drown said this: "Let the Word of God have the run of your house!"  In other words, fill your life with it.

To have success in your Personal Worship (as opposed to the years of repeated failures that many of us experience), pay attention to the process and the plan for my personal worship.

(I'll say that, if I were a younger woman, I might have tuned Mrs. Drown out at this point.  I would have turned up my nose at a private worship experience that required planning and a systematic process.  Ugh! What's the fun of that? Shouldn't my personal worship be spontaneous? From the heart? If I can't have it that way, I don't want it at all!  Well, now I'm an older lady, and not such a purist. If it takes a plan, a process, a little boring regularity, so be it! Much of life requires that.)

How often? Personal Worship should be a sustained, intent, habitual, daily counter to the world.  Take a cue from godly people you know. God's Word is food for the soul, and we need to EAT, frequently, often, and regularly. The more time --> the more blessing --> the more effective it will be in your life.

When? Common sense says that our Personal Worship needs to be regular & habitual, for it to last.  Random behaviors don't tend to "stick," do they?  Why is it best to have devotions in the morning? Because then you think about it all day, and the Lord can show you ways His Word will apply to your daily experiences.  It invites immediate application.

(I'll add a note of sympathy here for all you readers who are Not Morning People.  Neither am I.  But I am, at last, having Personal Worship in the mornings.  Granted, it's not 6:00 AM.  It's more like 7:30 AM.  But it's happening. If I had to be at work at 7:15 AM, it probably wouldn't be happening, to be honest. There's only so much my brain is willing/able to do in the mornings.)

How Long? Don't be rushed.  Don't time yourself.  Be leisurely.  Meditating takes time. When was the last time you allowed yourself the luxury of sitting still, not thinking about pressing responsibilities, and allowing your weary mind to lap up the comforting milk of Scriptural thoughts? Enjoy it! Be still. Relearn how to unwind. If you view your Personal Worship time in this way, you'll begin to look forward to it. I now do.

Where?  They say location is everything. Mrs. Drown said to find a place with the least number of distractions. Now, some folks can plop down with their Bible in the middle of chaos, and six children, and food cooking, and the phone ringing.  Not me. I'm sorry to say that I'm very particular about this part, and perhaps it's kept me from this good habit for many years. I need a place that's private.  (I have a personal weirdness about being seen while I'm having devotions.  I have no idea why. It makes me feel like I'm showing off, if people catch me reading my Bible. Crazy, I know.) So, I knew I needed to have devotions in my bedroom, but that it would not work for me to read in my bed. I get either uncomfortable or sleepy when I read in bed. So, I need a comfortable chair. And good light. And a blanket to drape over my legs when it's cold.  I kid you not. I put some thought into this.

I knew, in order for me to stick with it, I had to make the location appealing to me. So I did. And it worked.

Mrs. Drown uses her computer for Personal Worship, with lots of desktop folders and documents.  I toyed with that idea, but knew that I'd be distracted by facebook and blogging and email.  I decided against that tempting organizational option, even though she had some great websites and helpful hints. Here are a few:
* She keeps four files on her desktop:  Praise, Confession, Petition, Thanks.  She lists items in each file, and these guide her prayer time. She keeps the icon available, to look up passages.
* She uses a reading plan.  I can't stress this enough. So many times I failed because I'd just open up the Bible and read, or I'd ask myself, "Hmmm.  Which book do I want to read now?" A reading plan ensures that you don't neglect any portion of Scripture.
*She sometimes uses an unfamiliar Bible translation, to "shake things up" and help her see passages in a new way.
* She keeps a spiritual journal in one computer file, just a simple private writing of her thoughts as she reads. Kind of a written meditation.
* She keeps another file of questions she wants to ask other people about her Bible reading, so she won't forget.
* She keeps another "Spiritual Growth" file, of verses to examine in greater depth later, when she has more time. It also includes verses that are particularly helpful at different times in life, so she can find them easily when needed.
* She prays her thanksgiving last, to set the tone for the day -- a positive tone that thinks of what God's done for her in the past, and looks optimistically to the future. That's a good Biblical model.

Mrs. Drown has been developing this worship model for about 30 years, I think. I'm a babe in this stuff.  So far, I've only adopted a tiny portion of what she does here, but it's good for a start.  Honestly, considering my failures in this area, just making a successful start is a miracle, to me. In January I started on a "read through the Bible in a year" plan. My husband-pastor gave these out at church. That's my reading plan. It takes the material in the Bible chronologically, so that you read the events as they occur. I find it historically interesting this way. For me, it's turned into "read the Bible in 18 months," but that's okay. Mrs. Drown's help has gotten me back on track.

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