This weekend, I had the opportunity to preach on an episode in Jesus’ ministry that has been both convicting and encouraging to me through the years. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.) In the story of Mary and Martha, we see a powerful reminder about the importance of enjoying Jesus as our top priority. In this infamous passage, he tells Martha that sitting at his feet and enjoying his presence is the one necessary thing and the “good portion.”
But prioritizing our communion with Jesus can be challenging in a culture that constantly wants something from us, values us based on how we perform, and judges us by what we can produce. I’ve been guilty of failing to prioritize him in many seasons of my life. God has so lovingly and patiently confronted me with this over the years, and I’ve been growing in it.
As someone who is not naturally good at this, I’ve started some disciplines in recent months that have been game-changing. Here’s how I’ve begun to practice intentionally enjoying Jesus’ presence in my own life:
I put it on the calendar.
I’ve found it’s important to put my time with the Lord on the calendar. I have recurring appointments on my phone for my Bible study and times of prayer. I know that if it’s there, I am far less likely to ignore it. It may sound weird to make calendaring a spiritual thing, but it’s the same as budgeting our finances. If we budget so we can use money wisely and give generously, why wouldn’t we budget our time the same way?
I begin the morning with a liturgical guide.
Right after I’ve finished getting the boys ready for school, I pause for 5-10 minutes to go through a prayer in my favorite liturgical book, Valley of Vision. The guided prayers force me to think clearly about how I am approaching the Lord in my own prayers. It’s just a few moments of silence that center my heart before the day gets going. It also gives me a chance to give the Lord my concerns and worries about the day ahead.
My Bible study starts right before work.
I spend most of my mornings in coffee shops. My first calendar item when I arrive is my Bible study. I’m currently reading very slowly and diligently through Hebrews. I journal on what God is showing me in the text. I also jot down any themes I’m seeing between the text and issues I’m struggling with in my life. I like to think intentionally about where God’s Word is intersecting with my present circumstances. I also like to note any worship songs that might correlate with what I’m reading. I do all of this before I open my email or get started on projects.
I end my day where I started.
I’m a night owl. I’ve never been a huge morning person but my mind is very active between 10:00-11:30 pm. After Holly and the boys are in bed and the house is quiet, I retreat to my office, close the door, go through another Valley of Vision prayer, crack open the book I’m currently reading, and close out my day in prayer. I also like to read back through my journal to look for any more themes between what God is showing me about himself and what might be on my heart that day.
No, I’m not perfect with this.
I started this new rhythm at the beginning of the year. Sometimes things get crazy in the morning and I have to push my first touch point later. Other times, I’m mentally dead and I can’t focus enough to read in the evening. From time to time, I am only getting 1-2 of those touch points. But it isn’t about keeping a schedule or checking anything off. It’s about my communion with the Lord. If I happen to miss one, there are still two others. I’ve learned to give myself grace.
That said, if I go even one day without hitting at least one of these touch points, I immediately see signs of spiritual unrest in my heart. I get oddly angry at small things. My anxiety starts to rise. My patience wears thin. This is because I’m not drawing my strength from the Lord. I’m neglecting the one necessary thing for the lesser things. The whole equilibrium of my day is thrown off.
Discover what works for you.
This rhythm works for me because these are three moments in my day when I am weakest. They are moments when I feel the most overwhelmed or tired. Your solution may not be this elaborate, but start somewhere. I encourage you to sit down with your calendar, find a rhythm that works for you, and make it happen. The best solution is simply the one that puts your focus on the one necessary thing.