Planning Ahead for Spiritual Fitness

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“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” is a slogan frequently heard at Weight Watcher’s meetings.  Members are encouraged to plan ahead for each day by preparing their food ahead of time and planning their meals in advance. Those who are prepared are less likely to get distracted and fall back into unhealthy eating habits.

Group members who want to develop a daily habit of being more physically active are told to plan ahead for success by packing their bag for the gym the night before and placing it by the door. Again, those who have their exercise gear packed and ready to go are less likely to neglect adding physical activity into their day.

Planning leads to success in all areas of life.  If we truly want to grow spiritually, we must discipline ourselves to develop a daily devotional time. When talking with my friends, I know this is an area that many of us, myself included, struggle with.

I used to be very disciplined regarding my daily quiet time with God. I would get up early in the morning while my children were asleep and spend at least an hour reading scripture and praying.  Eventually the kids grew up and moved out, my husband left, and I took a job outside the home. I found it hard to have my quiet time in the morning when I had to be at work by 5:00 a.m. Reading my Bible and praying at night when I was exhausted wasn’t the same.

An accident and subsequent time in a wheelchair eventually caused me to lose my job. I thought I would have all the time in the world to get back into my morning devotional time while being housebound and unable to drive, but it never worked out that way.

Shortly after losing my job, I started my freelance writing career, which I worked at during the day, and typed medical reports for my physical therapist in the evenings. Working from home was a dream come true, but I soon found out how time consuming it is to be self-employed.

Being actively involved in social media is pretty important in the world of freelance writing. My life became one big cycle of Twitter, Facebook, starting a website, blogging, email messages, and text messages. Instead of getting up early to spend time with God, I was getting up early and answering emails and searching for my next writing job.

Work, social media, and technology started to take over my life. When I took a good honest look at how I was spending my time, I was planning for everything but my time with God.

And the lack of spiritual fitness was evident in my life.  Just as a body without proper diet and exercise gets flabby and out of shape, my spiritual side wasn’t looking very healthy. I was less patient, easily angered, worried about everything, and lacked self-control in many areas of my life – especially out-of-control eating and spending too much money.

I knew I had to find my way back to the woman I used to be; the woman who got up early every day to spend quality time praying, studying the Bible, and memorizing scripture. I also knew it would never happen if I didn’t prepare for my daily quiet time.

I started by re-reading the best book I’ve ever read on establishing a quiet time. I highly recommend A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh Demoss. It’s the book I always go to when I need to refocus on the importance of daily devotions.

IMG_0179I also made a quiet-time basket again. I had one years ago and found it to be crucial in reminding me to set aside daily time for prayer and Bible reading. I keep my Bible, journal, pens,  small pack of tissues, hymn book, Bible study book, and a tiny photo album that contains pictures of my family to use during my prayer time. The basket sits on my desk in my home office and is a daily reminder to pause and worship God before the distractions of the day set in.

Having my quiet-time essentials in one place makes them easy to tote around. Some days I have my quiet time at my desk in the kitchen. I like to sit outside on the porch or at the picnic table in the yard when the weather is nice. Sometimes I have my quiet time on the little pier by the pond.

It’s not important where or how you conduct your daily quiet time with God. The main thing is to develop the discipline to do it. Our lifestyles are all different. What works for each of us individually will depend a lot on what season of life we are in at the time.

Regardless of what season we are in, the time we spend in prayer and reading the Bible is never wasted time. Whether we have five minutes or an hour a day to spend getting to know God better, it will be time well spent. Setting aside time for God is vital if we are to become women who make a difference in the world for the glory of God.

What can you do today to plan for your quiet time tomorrow?

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