I woke up the other day with two papers due, ten text messages that deserved thorough and urgent responses, three meetings to plan, and an achy neck that desperately needed physical therapy. I knew what I had to do. I walked to the park, put on some worship music, opened my Bible, and prayed.
It is counter-intuitive to go spend time with God when your to-do list is a mile long and people need you. Many of you are college students, working multiple jobs, trying to pay for tuition, while taking care of your family. I don’t pretend to know how difficult your specific circumstances are, but I do know that a daily prayer life can feel luxurious and impractical.
When I went to the park that morning, my whole day changed. I looked at the trees around me and heard God saying that I wasn’t going to fall over because I was rooted in him. As I listened to Travis Greene sing, “Thank you for being God,” I remembered that I wasn’t in control of life, but that God was, and I could trust him. The rest of my day fell into order. From my prayer time, I knew who and what God wanted me to prioritize that day. I could write my papers, lead my meetings, respond to people in crisis, and SAY NO to people, with a sense of stability and assurance that God was with me, shepherding me through each moment.
Why wouldn’t I want that kind of experience every day? Especially on my busiest days that make me feel out of control.
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest apprentices, tells us that the way we mature is by craving time with Jesus and his word: “Like a newborn baby, desire the pure milk of the word. Nourished by it, you will grow into salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2: 2).
When we get a taste of how good it is to spend focused time with Jesus, we crave more of it. And when we regularly nourish ourselves with God’s goodness, we grow into the mature and whole people who God created us to be, overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and more effective in our love and leadership.
So how do you find time to be nourished by Jesus, especially when it’s not already in your regular routine?
- Ask yourself: What are my internal and external barriers? What’s stopping you from getting time with God? Maybe you have an internal fear of failure. Or maybe you just need some strategic help navigating your schedule. Identifying your specific barrier will help you problem-solve.
- Write it in your schedule. While you’re new to this, don’t fool yourself that you’re just going to do it automatically. You won’t. Look at your calendar for the next month and write in when you will spend focused time with God. When I was in college, I would write it in my class schedule as if it were another class. Sometimes the best time for me was in between two classes.
- Go somewhere where you won’t fall asleep. Find a spot of grass on campus or plan to go for a walk outside. Turn on the lights. Open the windows. Turn off your phone. Whatever you need to do to focus.
- Commit for at least a month. There are a million creative ways you can spend time with Jesus, but in order to establish any habit in life, you will need to do something repetitively for a while. Pick something and commit to it for at least a month.
- Need a devotional guide? Try this one: God Speaks Through Wombs. Drew Jackson is a poet and theologian who interacts with the book of Luke through poetry. I am reading a section of Luke each day and his poem that goes with it, and then taking some time for God to speak to me through my reading. Try it with me!