I’ve had about as much fun in COVID Land as I can take. Between being locked in the master bedroom, Shannon wearing a hazmat suit, and acting like I have the bubonic plague, I am ready to get back to the land of the living.
The one positive aspect of being in quarantine is, I have had more time to work on my spiritual disciplines.
Usually, I get up very early in the morning, when the world is dark and still. I do my devotional and get to the business of the day. Most of the time it brings me peace. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But either way, I know the discipline of a daily devotional is very important in my relationship with the One who brings Light in the darkness. I am not alone in this sort of experience.
One of the greatest religious minds of the last century was Henri Nouwen. In describing his daily practice of doing an early morning devotion in the convent of the Carmelite Sisters’ chapel, Nouwen helped me see I am not the only one who struggles. This is his account:
“My hour in the Carmelite chapel is more important than I can fully know myself. It is not an hour of deep prayer, nor a time in which I experience a special closeness to God; it is not a period of serious attentiveness to the divine mysteries. I wish it were! On the contrary, it is full of distractions, inner restlessness, sleepiness, confusion, and boredom. It seldom, if ever, pleases my senses. But the simple fact of being for one hour in the presence of the Lord and showing him all that I feel, think, sense, and experience, without trying to hide anything must please him.” – From Gracious! By Henri J.M. Nouwen
If, in your time of prayer, you find yourself distracted and your mind wandering, don’t feel like you are alone. If one of the true spiritual greats, like Henri Nouwen, finds himself struggling from time to time, why would you expect your experience to be any different?
What Nouwen knew was it was the discipline itself that mattered? The same is true for all of us.
Early in my life, I discovered the practice of a daily devotional mattered. It didn’t mean every time I prayed, the clouds of worry disappeared, and I saw God’s beautiful face. Many times, there was nothing. But the continual repetition of my practice to intentionally move closer to God has made all the difference in the world. It’s a cumulative effect.
Paul said, “Train yourself for a holy life! While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8)
Sometimes your spiritual training will be full and rich, other times, it will feel empty and impoverished. Never stop. Take Paul’s words to heart and keep moving forward. It will draw you closer to the One who gives you purpose and meaning.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, in spiritual times of feast or famine, help me continue to draw closer to you. Open my eyes, ears, mind, and spirit to your beauty and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
If you are ever tempted to give up on your devotional life, don’t. Just follow the advice of my granddad to “Keep Truckin”.
Also, as a part of my daily devotional, if I say I am praying for you, that means your name is written in a notebook I keep in my briefcase. I keep this list in order to remember each person I need to pray for and exactly what I am praying for. I need to keep a list because I’m not smart and I am praying for a lot of people.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.