It has been said that time is our most valuable resource. If there is one thing that is certain it is that we only have so much time in our lives. The clock never stops ticking, no matter how badly we may want it to stop. So it makes sense that we would want to use what little time we have wisely and to the best of our ability. The reality is that we make time for the things that are important to us.
Because our time is so valuable, it would make sense that God would want us to put him first in this area of our lives. This is not because God is greedy, but rather because he is worthy of the best of everything that we do. Our Creator and Redeemer is not due our sloppy seconds. He purchased us with his own blood, making sure that we understand how important we are to him. How could we give him anything less?
Truthfully we cannot call ourselves Christians in practice if we are not spending time with God. That is like saying I am married without spending time with my wife. I am sorry if this offends anyone, but that is not marriage. It is a legal agreement with no love behind it. It works the same way in our relationship with God. We show how much we truly love him by the time that we spend with him. We cannot truly call ourselves Christians if we don’t spend time with God, because there is no real love there.
I want to be very clear here. I understand that many of us have families and jobs, along with other things that take up some of our time. I do not believe that God is sitting in heaven with a stopwatch recording every second we spend with him, and docking us if we end our prayer time after only fifteen minutes. The Bible doesn’t really give us an indication of how much time we should spend with God, and that is done on purpose. God wants us to spend time with him because we want to be in his presence, not because we think we will split hell wide open if we don’t pray.
I truly believe that the number one reason people don’t spend time with God is because they don’t really understand his love. The cross is simply a story to them instead of a reality that they live every single day of their lives. God is reduced to the pages of the Bible, but has no real influence on their daily lives. For some reason, we as Christians tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and carnal things. The reality is that God should dominate every single area of our lives. Christianity should not be reduced to a couple of hours on a Sunday, but it should influence everything that we say and do.
Prayer and Bible reading are the two most important forms of spending time with God. However, we first have to clearly define those terms before we can truly practice them. After all, Paul told us to pray without ceasing, which really doesn’t seem to fit with our view of prayer today. We tend to think of prayer as finding “a spot and a slot.” In other words, we water down prayer to a certain place and certain time of day. If that’s true, however, then Paul is commanding the impossible. No one can live up to his standard of praying without ceasing.
So what does Paul mean? The psalmist may give us a clue when he says that he would “meditate on the Lord.” To put it in everyday language, this simply means to always have the Lord on our minds. Prayer is communication with God, and opening our minds to hear from him at any place and any point in our day. We are really selling ourselves short if we limit that to an hour a day before the sun rises. Practical Christianity demands that God be part of every single second of our lives.
Bible reading has been greatly diminished in Christianity today as well. Rarely do people read the Bible to understand it or actually hear from God. As a matter of fact, we have reduced Bible reading to B.R.E.A.D. programs, because some well-meaning pastors want to do whatever it takes to get their saints to read the Bible. But is this really what Christianity has become? We have reduced our relationship with God to a fifteen minute a day Bible-reading program, and an hour a day prayer schedule.
When we read the Bible to truly understand what it is saying then it changes how we think about everything. God becomes more real, and our relationship with him becomes more important. Reading the Bible in its proper context is one of the most important things we can do. Instead of just using scripture for clever Facebook cliches, we begin to properly apply it in our own lives. The Word becomes a mirror that we hold up to examine ourselves, not just a book of cool stories.
I am convinced that the biggest problem in the American church is that we are not properly allocating our time with God. Time spent with God results in a daily Christian, and a daily Christian can change the world around him. All you have to do to see that is turn to the book of Acts. I am not saying that if we don’t spend time with God every single day that we will be banished to hell. I am simply saying that we cannot be the practical, world-changing Christians that we need to be without getting into the presence of God and putting him first in every area of our lives.