From decisions to questions

Mike Betts on Lowestoft Beach

I am for January and the early part of Feb concentrating on prayer, study, reflection and thinking, all as part of seeking to lead well in 2010 in the various things I am involved with and even more importantly trying to gain fresh awareness of the presence, character and love of God in my life.

To find fresh glimpses of Christ is meat and drink for any Christian. All too often in life we can spend much time in making decisions. It is good on occasions to have extended time asking questions instead. An opportunity to do this at the start of a year to me seems wise as fresh momentum in all the situations I am involved with needs to be looked for. Additionally opportunity to gain fresh strength, direction and vision are all vital to the year ahead. We have a big and growing agenda opening up before us locally, regionally and internationally. God is on the move and to seek to steward well what he creates must be a huge part of our focus.
How to seek God
How does anyone spend a number of weeks praying and seeking God? Well my observations, experiments and discoveries lead me to a few conclusions from this time and other times I have done it. I am not in any way an expert or a huge prayer for hours on end as some we read of were. But I do think any one of us can with a bit of help and shaping suited to our personality find prayer and reflection with God not that hard. I am the sort of person who needs variety in a day if possible so lots of different tasks and stimulus suit me rather than concentrating on one thing all the time. We are all different. My thoughts to help me are this.

Have a plan – A basic structure to a day of prayer and study whereby it is broken up into sections I find makes the time manageable and keeps bringing fresh stimulation and focus into view. Keep it fresh and keep it moving. Change activity and change the scenery as required.

Pray in a pattern – the same time each day, your preferred location, flexible agenda but some key targets, with awareness and anticipation of God speaking or bringing words to you through the scriptures, dreams, pictures, thoughts, observations etc. I find if we expect God to speak in an ongoing way he does, though not as we might expect or at the time we perhaps would expect. I am very grateful for others praying for me at this season also and for the Friday morning prayer breakfasts at LCC a highlight of the week for me!

Appointments with people – try to spend some key time with folk who inspire you or who can bring a fresh perspective on some key questions and thoughts and situations you are involved with

Have a variety of things to read – for me personally at this time a mixture of devotional books largely based on biographies of people who made an impact for God through the way they lived their lives. This combined with some leadership focused books especially this time seeking to learn from military history. An odd combination you might think? Well to me learning the principles of how someone led well and gained the following of many others into what became a vision deeply held by many is a key thing. This combined with watching how people handled their lives and all that came at them and seeking to emulate what was good and avoid what could have been done better.

Write down some questions – what are the big picture questions and trains of thought I wish I could find clearer answers to? What might the next big things be for me to initiate or might God bring into being that I need to be ready for?

Keep a journal – I have done this for a number of years now and find that a simple daily record of thoughts from scriptures I have read that day or things that occurred in prayer or main points from books I have read are best to be recorded to then look at again. I particularly like to write down quotes from books or promises and verse from the scriptures that jump out of the page when I read them as being a real help to me in the things I am thinking or praying about.

Get fit! – go to the Gym, walk, swim or whatever stirs the mind and energises the body. Christian ministry is a long haul and is demanding and must be prepared for like a marathon. Life’s balance of work and recreation is important. Any big adjustments are best taken on board in such times of seeking God.

Dream on – some major trains of thought will inevitably emerge over the weeks and these must be incubated and turned over slowly in the mind, not in a rush but with the benefit of thinking through slowly.

A week on and I already have a full journal, a few big questions, some new perspective on me and most importantly some fresh sense of meeting with God in a low key but meaningful way. More specifics to come as the time goes on.

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