My Daily Routine

I am always reluctant to tell others about my morning routine. I think I am embarrassed by how early I get up and how regimented that I am. I think that it will discourage others from pursuing spiritual things because they will think that they have to get up as early as I do. I know, I know, I sound self absorbed but these are the thoughts that run through my brain when I am telling others about when I pray and read scripture. So, I am just going to lay it out there for you. You can pass judgement however you wish. But, I do hope that you will see how intentional I have to be in order to spend time with God and that sacrifices have to be made in order to make it happen. Below you will find my best case scenario for my morning routine. It seldom happens exactly this way but this is the ideal scenario.

4:50 – Alarm goes off

5:00 – Wake up and eat a snack

5:10 – Work out

5:30 – Spiritual Enrichment Program (prayer, scripture reading, silence, devotional and spiritual living reading)

6:00 – Writing For Blog

6:35-6:40 – Soaking in Tub (I use this time for more prayer and meditation on God)

6:40 – Get ready for work

7:30 – Leave for work (listen to a podcast related to whatever I am reading at the time)

Lunch break – Read a biography, memoir, or autobiography on spiritual figure in a location that is not my office.

Drive home – Listen to music. I find that this helps me wind down from work and often is good for my soul.

Nightly reading (this rarely happens) – Read from the same book that I read from during my lunch breaks

11:00 – Try to be in bed by this time. I go to sleep thinking about things in my day that I can be happy and thankful about.

This is not a formula and everyone will be different but I hope that you do not copy this arrangement as much as you maybe draw inspiration from it. With this arrangement, I am able to read two books at a time, exercise, write a blog, spend time in God’s word (not enough though), and pray. But, I often sleep past five, get distracted by the internet, put too much emphasis on reading books over reading the Bible and pray in a rush. I am not perfect but this arrangement has given me some very beneficial times with God and opportunities to learn more about him.

What can you change about your schedule to give you more opportunity for time with God and spiritual growth?

Best of Christian Life Hacker – Quiet Time Has Got To Go

Since the past month and a half has been pretty intense here on Christian Life Hacker, I thought it might be good to revisit some of the posts that epitomize the Christian Life Hacker faith style. This is one of the first post from back in December:

Quiet Time Has Got To Go

I have a confession to make. I don’t have a quiet time. That’s right, the standard for evangelical spiritual growth is not in my vocabulary. Not because I dislike the idea of having a time of the day set aside for being quiet but because the term “quiet time” has turned into something powerless and reeks of church speak (terms that have very little meaning outside the church).

I am sorry, but my time spent talking to, listening to, and learning about God and his kingdom needs a term that packs a little more punch than “quiet time”. This term sounds like something I would do to my daughters to punish them or settle them down before bed.

Also, for anyone who has grown up in the church, the term has been used so frequently and with such “preachiness” that it instantly conjures up feelings of guilt in individuals who have failed to live up to all the requirements of a ‘quiet time’ (at least 15 minutes, first thing in the morning, chapter a day, etc.). I don’t know if I can come up with a better term, but the one that I have started using is “Spiritual Enrichment”.

To me, the term Spiritual Enrichment accomplishes two things. First, it helps explain the goal of the activity – to grow, to be enriched, improved. Second, it reminds us that what we are doing during this time is a spiritual activity and not just a time when we try to be alone with our Bible open. We are spiritual beings, that is part of the life that God breathed into us in the Garden of Eden and later at Pentecost. Evangelicals get nervous when talk turns too spiritual but denying our non-physical side is denying what makes humans unique and what made God so proud in creating us.

So, on this blog at least we will not use the term “quiet time” but will replace the idea with the term Spiritual Enrichment. I am not sold on this term so if anyone else has an idea on what we can call it please let me know.

Kick Starting Your Prayer Life

I once heard of a lady who began training for a marathon. Her initial training included the simplest of goals. “Can I run to the next lightpost?” Her approach was to start at the most basic level and work from there. Just a year later she ran in her first marathon.

What if we took her approach and applied it to our prayer life or other spiritual activities that often frustrate us? Besides starting at the most basic point, another principle that can be applied here is Parkinson’s Law. This law states that an activity will increase in complexity based on the time allotted to completing it. In other words, tighter deadlines force us to focus and our attention does not sway to non-essential distractions.

So how can we use the basic approach and Parkinson’s Law to help kick start our prayer life:

1. Start with this basic question, “Can I pray about my love of God?” If the answer is yes, then do it and then ask yourself this, “Can I pray about my devotion to God?” If the answer is yes, then do it and move to a question about your family, then your work, then your church, and then your world. If at any point, you feel distracted or do not know what to pray then stop and try the exercise the next day.

2. Set a tight deadline for your prayer time. If you only have two minutes to pray then you will stay more focused and those pesky thoughts that derail prayer times will seem less important. Of course, I don’t suggest putting huge time constraints on time with God and I realize that God deserves more than two minutes but if the alternative is a non-existent prayer life or an aimless 15 minutes full of drowsiness and daydreaming then do what works best and steadily increase your time.

Why don’t you start now? Push your keyboard away and for the next two minutes go through your basic prayer questions. At the end of two minutes stop and evaluate how it went. Do the same thing tomorrow and increase to three minutes. Try to get up to five – 10 minutes.

My Spiritual Enrichment Workout

Because I am a son of a coach and been around sports my whole life and now am at the stage of life where working out is something that is a necessity for a healthy life, I tend to make natural parallels between a fitness workout and a spiritual workout. My Spiritual Enrichment (my name for “quiet time”) involves four main components. This week, I will explain each aspect of the workout:

1. Warm-Up

2. Core Workout

3. Strength

4. Cardio

First let me explain the Warm-Up

Warm-Up.  A reading from the Divine Hours. This is a manual to what is known as fixed-hour prayer. Basically, if we all lived in a monastery, we would have various times during the day when we would stop what we were doing and join together in prayer and worship. The Divine Hours provides scriptures, Psalms, songs, and prayers covering just a few pages. This is a good warm up for me because it reminds me of where the focus of spiritual enrichment should be – God and not myself. Also, for hundreds of years, the Psalms were the prayer, praise, and worship book  of the church and each one of the fixed-hour sessions offer heavy doses of the Psalms. Look here for an example of a morning session. Two words of instruction, first, when you see an asterisks that means you need to pause and second, I always get more out of it when I read through it out loud as if I were trying to memorize some of the readings.

Tomorrow we will look at the Core Workout section.