By Gina Gardner, Steppes of Faith
(All resources mentioned are purely my suggestions based on my experiences with them. I am not affiliated with these organizations aside from being a happy fan. I hope they help you too.)
“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17
All well-trained and conscientious pilots go through a pre-flight checklist before every flight they take. Whether the aircraft has been parked for a month or it was on the ground for only five minutes, a good pilot who cares about the safety of his or her crew and passengers always takes the time to go through their checklist. It’s not just about following the FAA rules; it’s about making sure the flight ahead will be successful.
Checklists are handy for many different people: teachers, bus drivers, package delivery drivers, coaches, writers, and even parents- anyone who needs to make sure they’ve covered all their bases in a given amount of time. As followers of Christ, we should also keep a checklist, one that keeps us focused on God and helps us to grow in our faith every day.
What would this checklist look like? What would it include? The specifics vary from person to person depending on what area of your faith you think you should work on, but there are a few basic, core principles you’ve probably heard before that you should daily go over if you’re working toward success in your Christian walk.
Read the Bible. There’s no way for you to understand what is expected of you or to discover all of God’s amazing promises to you if you don’t read what God has to say about it.
Pray. This is probably the hardest thing to check off our lists every day. Finding time to get quiet with the Lord, to seek Him, make our requests known, and to listen to His guidance and wisdom takes discipline. We have to be intentional about setting aside some time to be with God.
That’s not easy to do when there are so many other demands of our time staring us right in the face beginning with getting the kids off to school or going to work most mornings. For most parents, it’s not unusual to have one of your kids standing over you complaining about a sibling or that there’s no more toothpaste before you even open your eyes. But if we can purposely take even just a few moments every morning to spend time with God- and really make a habit of it- it will change your mindset and the tone of your day to one of peace and kindness toward others and to yourself.
I promise you that daily morning prayer will change your life!
Worship. There’s no better way to really connect with God than physical worship. It’s not enough to use our words or thoughts, although that’s good too. In physical worship, we are outwardly expressing our devotion and love for Christ. When we involve movement, whether it’s singing or praising Him out loud or even dancing, we engage our entire being in declaring our faith and belief that there is only one God and He is the only one who can save us from our sin.
We are to worship the Lord with all of our heart, all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength (Mark 12:30). When we do that the day ahead is suddenly a lot brighter and easier to handle because we’ve drawn close to God, who loves us with an infinite, unconditional love. You can’t help but walk away from physical worship without feeling the presence of the Lord all around you and in you.
Customize Your Checklist
There are many different things we can put on our personal checklists that help us to daily experience God. Whatever that would be is up to you. For me, I usually don’t have time for pleasure reading. Between the demands of the house, work, and family, there’s just no time to sit and read. So I digitally downloaded some wonderful devotionals and signed up for certain electronic Christian newsletters that I read while I’m doing my cardio at the gym. It helps to pass the time, I exercise longer because I want to keep reading, and I spend time with God all at the same time. It’s a win-win-win.
Not everyone is a gym rat like I am, and maybe you can’t read at the gym because it’s just too difficult. So what else can you do to customize your time with God? Allow me to make a few more suggestions that might help you.
As I mentioned, I downloaded several devotional apps to read each day. There are lots you can download from your phone’s app store or go online. I use The Bible, InTouch Ministries (Dr. Charles Stanley), and the Baptist Bible Hour. They each have daily devotions that take only a few minutes to read, but really fill you up with the truth of God. And, of course, there are a number of books you can order online through ChristianBook.com or FaithGateway.com, or pick up at your local Christian bookstore.
I’ll admit that I don’t journal. I write all day long, so adding more writing to my day just doesn’t work for me. Plus, it’s hard to journal when I’m doing my Bible study on a cross-country elliptical machine. But I know many people who journal regularly and they absolutely love it. A simple notebook from the grocery store is all you need to jot down your thoughts, write out your prayers, or even doodle what you think God is trying to tell you. There are even Bible journaling coloring books you can buy. Whatever works for you to help you meditate on God’s word.
Daily Reading Plans
YouVersion offers lots of reading plans you can sign up for to help you grow in your faith. Their plans are targeted for different audiences like parents, business leaders, marriage, singles, building your faith in general, journaling, and those who want to dig deep into specific books of the Bible. They even have reading plans for kids! Over a dozen different versions of the Bible are available for you to read too, which is super handy when you want to compare and study what certain verses mean.
iDisciple is another great online resource for devotions and reading plans covering a wide range of Biblical topics. They also offer sermon clips from your favorite speakers, blog articles, music, and connections to Christian talk show radio stations across the country. And it’s all free!
Right Now Media is also a great resource for faith-building through videos. Some are only ten minutes long and others up to an hour. But, like YouVersion, they cover a wide range of topics and audiences. The only problem is that you can only get access through a church account. So if your church doesn’t offer it, I highly encourage that you ask about it. There’s a lot of amazing stuff on Right Now Media.
Connecting On Social Media and Your Phone
I belong to several Facebook groups that focus on God and encouraging each other in our work and families. They are places where you can not only encourage and digitally high-five each other, but you can also get Biblically-based answers to your questions without feeling embarrassed. Sometimes there’s a quick conference call in on the phone for a weekly, live devotion and prayer time, and sometimes you get special invitations to upcoming book releases or special events like IF:Gathering conferences.
Group texting is another great way to connect. Do you have a circle of friends from church or work or the gym who love and follow Christ? How about sending out regular group texts with simple words of encouragement or a quick prayer? Use the technology you have available to you to stay in touch with other believers.
Of course, you can also get quick encouragement on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and many other places online. Just be sure to filter your results so the ugly stuff that doesn’t speak life and love to you don’t mix in with the good stuff.
Reading with Your Kids
You may already be reading with your kids every night before bed. Have you thought about reading kid-friendly devotions to them over breakfast? In our house, sometimes breakfast is the only time we’re actually all in the same room together. You can read either from a special, age-appropriate book with full-color illustrations or read directly from the source itself, the Bible. One of our favorites is Goodnight Warrior by Sheila Walsh. Suitable for children under seven-years-old, it’s full of short summaries of Bible stories and a prayer for each day.
For older kids, consider reading out loud to them stories based on Biblical principles like Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, any of the Sugar Creek Gang series, or, literally, dozens of others. There are also Q&A books you can read with them that make your child consider real-life, possible situations and think about a proper reaction that’s rooted in love and not sin. One great book I like to read like this is Sticky Situations by Betsy Schmitt. There are two Sticky Situations, one for kids 5-11 and one for kids 12 and older. They’re both amazing!
Let reading with your kids strengthen your relationship with them while you solidify the word of God in them.
Tack Up Post-It Notes
It drives my husband crazy and I’ve been teased about it, but I love tacking up Post-It notes with my favorite Bible scriptures all over the house. They act as daily affirmations of God’s promises and power so I’m never far away from being encouraged in Him, especially on the more difficult days. I like can’t-miss-it, high visibility places like the bathroom mirror or on the kitchen cabinets. I even put some on my boys’ doors and dressers so they are always reminded of God’s love and grace.
Praying with Your Family
We make it a daily habit to pray as a family before we begin our day. It only takes a minute to stop and pray over the activity that’s coming our way that day, and invite God to guide us in our decision-making and give us opportunities to sow love and kindness in others. It doesn’t matter where we pray. We pray inside our home or outside on the driveway, in the car, or at the school next to the car or on the sidewalk outside of the school. It’s wonderful way to unite as one in Christ before the day gets too hectic and it provides a bold testimony to others. Plus, I get to squeeze in another hug with my boys before they take off. Bonus!
Time to Fly!
There are so many ways to connect with God every day. Choose the ones that work best for you. You don’t have to do everything on the checklist, although I encourage you to at least do the basics. What’s most important is that you focus on being consistent and intentional about it so you can daily experience the fullness of God’s grace.
God desires a relationship with you. He wants to be a part of every moment of your day. He stands at the door waiting for you. All you have to do is reach out and connect with Him.
How do you connect with God every day? What are some your daily habits that keep you close to Him? Which one(s) would you like to be more intentional about? What keeps you from consistently connecting with Him? Share your comments with us. Let’s explore new ways to experience God’s love and grace.