When I wrote my book Godspace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life, I talked about the need for all of us to move beyond chronic randomness to a more intentional pattern of prayer that draws us closer to God, to God’s purposes and the needs of our world. This exercise resulted in the writing of Light for the Journey and though I have moved away from using this pattern over the last couple of years as I reread the section in Godspace this morning I realized how much I too need to refocus my daily time with God to in intentional ways that draw me closer to the God I love and the world I ache for. So I thought that you too might appreciate this excerpt from Godspace.
Since I recognized the power of regular restorative practices, I have worked hard to develop a pattern that connects my daily spiritual observances to the rhythm of my life. I wrote down the characteristics of my faith that needed reinforcing and divided them into seven themes—one for each day of the week. These now form focal points for my daily devotions. To sharpen my focus I purchased a loose-leaf notebook and divided it into seven sections—one for each day of the week. Each section begins with Scriptures that reflect my theme. To these I added ideas and quotes from my Bible and other spiritual books or from the Sunday sermon.
I read these verses and quotes first thing in the morning. They make good meditation points. Then as I read the newspaper I write down prayer points that connect to that day’s theme and use these as a focus for my prayer time. I devised questions that encourage me to incorporate this theme into my day’s activities.
Monday, I focus on God the Creator, creativity, and the call to be stewards of God’s creation. Sometimes I start the day by reflecting on how God is revealed in creation through the rhythm of the day and year or through the beauty and majesty of all created things. On occasion I meditate on God’s creativity expressed in the rich diversity and incredible complexity of life around me and contemplate the creativity I see in human endeavors such as fashion or architectural design. I use this as a launching point to think about my life and how God could use my creativity in the coming day. My questions for the day are either “In what ways am I called to steward God’s creation today?” or “How will my actions today glorify God’s creative work in the world?” I focus my prayers on those impacted by environmental disasters, on creation care ministries, and on those engaged in creative arts. As a result, I find myself praying for farmers and landscape gardeners, for fashion designers and environmentalists—people I was hardly aware of before.
Tuesday, I focus on Christ our Savior and what it means to bear his image into the world. I reflect on ways that I can model Christ to others and think about how those around me reveal Christ to me. I pray for those who seek to be an incarnation of Christ to people who live in poverty, despair, or oppression—particularly for situations I have read about in the newspaper during the week. I ask, “How can Christ-in-me show forth his love and compassion in my actions today?” and “In what ways do the faces of my family, friends, and those I pass in the street reflect the image of God?” Asking these questions has totally changed my attitude toward work and my community. Grocery shopping is no longer just to buy food; it is an opportunity to interact with people for whom God cares and Christ died.
Wednesday, I focus on the Holy Spirit and my need to be equipped as God’s servant. Sometimes I start the day by reading my mission statement—”To be a voice for those who have no voice and bring glimpses of God’s shalom kingdom into people’s lives.” I ask, “How can I live this out in my life today?” or “How do I need to be better equipped to be God’s voice for the voiceless?” Then I strategize about practical ways in which I can apply my ideas. I pray for places in which I can see the Holy Spirit at work, places where there are indications of renewal like the emerging postmodern church movement.
Thursday, I turn my focus toward community. I think about what it means to be part of God’s worldwide community and how that oneness can be expressed through hospitality and compassionate care to others. I reflect on God’s international community and pray for those who suffer from hunger, poverty, disease, or injustice. Sometimes I ask myself, “What do I plan to do today that will help build God’s community?” I also ask, “How will I help draw others into God’s community today?” Sometimes I focus on a far more difficult question: “In what ways do I discriminate against others who are part of God’s community?” I pray for those who suffer from AIDS and other devastating diseases, for those who are persecuted because of their faith, and for those who are discriminated against because of race, color, age, disabilities, or gender. This has made me very aware of the diversity of the human race. It has also opened my eyes to the rich variety of ways God reveals himself through different cultures.
Friday, not surprisingly, is my day to reflect on the cross of Christ and the wholeness God brings through restoration and reconciliation. Sometimes I pray about where I still need to be restored, or I ask God’s forgiveness for the obstacles that keep me from a whole-hearted commitment to Christ. I like to ask, “In what ways do I need to lay down my life today and intentionally embrace the life of Christ?” Sometimes I ask more difficult questions: “Are there areas of sin that I need to confess or people I need to be reconciled to?” I pray for countries torn apart by conflict and war and for those I know who work in ministries of reconciliation and peacemaking.
Saturday, I reflect on God’s kingdom and the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before me. I love to read stories about followers of Christ who dared to be different and lived as citizens of God’s kingdom. I gain confidence as I connect my own sense of purpose to the wonderful examples of Christians who have lived valiantly over the last two thousand years. My questions revolve around my call to be a witness. I ask, “How can I live today as a testimony to God?” I pray for missionaries and mission organizations I am involved in that reflect glimpses of God’s shalom kingdom.
Sunday is a day to celebrate the resurrection and the new life we receive through salvation. I rejoice in being a new creation in Christ and focus on the wonder of that new life. My questions are “What am I most grateful for this week?” and “What have I accomplished this week that reflects my new life in Christ and bears the seal of God’s approval?”
This exercise has greatly enriched my spiritual life and intentionally enabled me to integrate my daily routines with my Christian faith. I am amazed at the joy this has brought me. For example, focusing on God’s creativity made me realize that I too could be creative. I started writing poetry, something that would never have occurred to me before. I wrote the following poem one morning while reflecting on God’s beauty as revealed in the rising sun.
I awake this day to the joy of life
A sudden sunrise, a royal pageant,
Red and gold splashed across the sky
Like the daybreak of your light
It penetrates the darkest gloom
God-in-me vibrant colors shining through.
Sometimes black clouds obscure your brightness
Roaring thunder, jagged lightning
Clinging sin lances through my soul
It waits for the deluge of your grace
The cleansing rain that purifies my life
Forgiving love, embracing care
God-in-me muted colors waiting patiently.
I have also tried to connect these themes to my other daily activities. I love to walk, and I constantly look for creative ways to use my spiritual themes in my daily walks. Monday, I focus on my enjoyment of God’s creation. There is a lake five minutes from our home with a three-mile walking track around it where I love to go to soak in the beauty of God’s creation. Sometimes Tom and I walk around our neighborhood admiring the gardens. We are reminded that the first responsibility God entrusted to humans was to steward creation and make it flourish. Our walks encourage us to pray for all who are involved in creation care. Tuesday as I walk I think about how the face of Christ is reflected in the countenances of people I pass. Wednesday, I like to walk the neighborhood, asking God’s Spirit to open my eyes so that I can discern the needs and dreams of my community.