Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33, Common English Bible).
OK, it is confession time for me. When I left full-time ministry a year ago, I fell out of some of my habits. I neglected prayer time. I often forgot to spend time listening to God through meditation. Reading and studying Scripture was probably the second thing that fell by the wayside when I started teaching. The first one, without question, was this blog.
Since school let out last May and because I did not return to the classroom (except as a substitute teacher) any excuse I had (and they were not good excuses) really disappeared. It occurred to me that if I was going to be honest with myself I needed to start with admitting to myself that the excuses I used then were pretty lame. But, even worse, today there are no excuses.
For years I have been pretty good about remembering prayer time. I might not always remember all I was supposed to include in my prayer time, but I did remember to pray. I never fully abandoned prayer. When I first started the daily commute to school, I used my drive time, particularly in the morning for prayer time. I figured when Cindy or someone else was in the car I would talk to them. Why couldn’t I talk to God while I driving? It sounds reasonable enough but it wasn’t long before that prayer time was lost to listening to audiobooks during my commute. As I said, I never fully abandoned my prayer times but it was far short of what it had been only a few short weeks before.
The thing is, I would still pray before meals. I would still pray breath prayers as an ambulance or law enforcement or fire fighters past my way. I developed a new habit shortly before I started in the classroom. When someone would ask me to pray for them, I would take the time to stop and pray with them at that moment. I had come to a realization that I would forget and neglect people I had promised would be in my prayers. By praying right then, even if I did forget, I would have been there with my prayers at least once. I did manage to keep that going too.
I guess what I really missed was, I didn’t take the time to listen to God. Prayer is actually pretty simple when you just float a laundry list of requests out there and leave prayer at that and that was my prayer life. I would throw out all the things I wanted God to do but never worried about what God wanted me to do. I realize today, I need to get back to praying the right way, having a two-way conversation with God.
I quit writing things on my calendar. Why bother? My days were pretty structured so why did I even need a calendar. The calendar the school gave me pretty well kept things where they needed to be.
I neglected writing in my journal. I wish I had a written record of my teaching experience. I remember some but certainly not all. I wish I could go back and remind myself of some of the things I experienced and a journal would be a real help.
I also realized I completely dropped what I did on this blog. For months at a time, there was nothing here at all. I told myself that, since I was no longer a full-time pastor I didn’t need to do this anymore. But the truth is, I know I had readers who were not, and likely never will be part of a church I serve. I also know that these pages were part of their devotional readings. I let them down when I stopped writing.
A thought occurred to me today. Over the years in ministry, I have had people say, “Preacher, I used to go to church all the time. I guess I just got out of the habit and once I got out of the habit it is really hard to get back in the habit.”
I don’t think I ever understood that. Even now, I never got out of the habit of going to church. But, that is probably because I am expected to be there, every Sunday. And, while I was no longer full-time, I was still a pastor and it is generally accepted that the pastor will be in church. I did keep up with that one.
I really didn’t understand that getting out of the habit thing until now. I realized, missing worship may not have been a broken habit but all this other stuff was. I don’t have the excuses, bad as they were, for neglicting the spiritual habits that had become an important part of my life over the last 30 years and I still fall far short of where I was a mere 18 months ago.
Another thought occurred to me. It has to do with the Scripture reading. Because I was neglecting these habits and letting them fall to the ground and lost, I was not putting the Kingdom first. Everything else took precedent.
If I am going to be more faithful, I have to get back into these habits. Being faithful means I need that time with God be be filled with faith. I cannot neglect the things hat have become important to my faith walk.
I pray that I will continue to work to re-establish what were some pretty good habits. They are far to important to me to ignore them for the foreseeable future and likely beyond.
Is there something keeping you from seeking first the Kingdom?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Seeking the Genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.