It’s not hard to get guys to do something heroic. But ask them to do the mundane, the day to day, week to week investments, and watch how easily commitments get broken. Run into a burning building to rescue a kitten? I’m on it. Pick my underwear up off the floor? Not today. I’ve really come to think we’re better at the big stuff than the details in which, as they say, the Devil lives.
But think about it – day to day structure is more important than occasional heroism. It provides the foundation for long term change and growth, and it happens whenever new or good things happen. That’s because where there’s sin, there’s chaos. That’s the nature of sin – it confuses everything and everybody it touches. So, for example, when there’s reformation in the Church, there’s a return to the basics (the authority of the Bible, the need for prayer, the value of worship) and the establishing of order. Likewise, if you’re getting serious about your purity, then you’re also in a personal reformation. That means you, too, need the order that comes with the basics.
Nowhere, to my thinking, is that structure more needed than in our devotional life. Let’s define “devotional” as being a time of consistent and focused separation to God. It’s a time set apart daily for hearing from Him through the Scripture, and communicating with Him in prayer. That’s vital to any believer; doubly so for those of us who are inclined to default to destructive behaviors.
To Know Him is to Love Him
Remember, the first and great commandment is not to abstain from fornication, porn, or adultery, as serious as those are. Rather, it’s to love God wholeheartedly and unreservedly. Out of that love comes obedience, the sort Jesus described when He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
I can’t love someone I’m not intimate with, and let’s make no mistake about this: plenty of men have a relationship with God, but not much intimacy with Him. They spend little if any time privately with Him, and while they live a somewhat Christian lifestyle, they lack the vibrant, growing intimacy with Christ that marks a true disciple.
Don’t let that be said of you. To know Him is to love Him. That means hearing from Him, and expressing yourself to Him, regularly.
First, there’s the need to hear from Him. There are plenty of ways to hear from God: creation speaks of Him, He communicates through people and events, and there’s always that still small voice within. But all of these can be misinterpreted, and it’s pretty risky to rely on any of these as your primary way of hearing from God.
It’s the Bible that’s inspired and infallible, so it’s through the Bible that we can be certain we’re hearing from God. That means today, and for the rest of your life, you’ve got to be a man of the Word. Apart from it, you’ll never grow closer to Him.
“And When You Pray —”
I find it helps to approach prayer after reading scripture, as the Word has a way of roping my thoughts in and bringing me into a more focused frame of mind. I also find it helpful to begin prayer with worship – a simple verbal and mental acknowledgement of who God is. This is in line with the model Christ set out in Matthew 6:9-13, commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer.
You know by now, I’m sure, that the flesh flat out hates prayer. I start to pray and a gazillion things suddenly go through my mind, reminding me of all the stuff I should be getting done rather than praying. So when my old nature starts acting up, if I start by acknowledging God – my Father in heaven, my Redeemer, my Maker, my Great High Priest, my Shepherd, my Healer, my Peace – my mind gets focused and my spirit settled. That’s when the way gets paved for more effective, deep communion. And it’s in that communion time that my bonds of love for Him get solidified, and grow.
You Are What You Eat
You know, we really are largely the result of what we’ve been investing in, and our daily bread is the stuff vibrant spiritual life is made of. So today, and regularly, I want to be investing in what yields eternal benefit and, in the here and now, gets me through another tough day. Victoriously, even. And to my thinking, that just won’t happen without the critical structure.