I couldn’t journal this morning.
It’s not that I didn’t want to or that I didn’t have my journal and a pen…I just didn’t feel I had anything to say. My normal routine begins with a prayer of thanks to the Lord for another day, then I’ll begin journaling. It’s becoming more commonly the first thing I do when I wake in the morning. I will write about something that the Lord has put on my heart or I’ll write about something that happened the night or day prior or whatever comes to mind. I didn’t write about anything this morning…pen in hand, blank page ready…and nothing.
So, I figured I would read the scripture readings assigned for this morning through my bible reading plan. I had to read Proverb 22…twice. Understand, the reading only calls for reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I had to read it twice because I didn’t remember what I read the first time. It was like my eyes just glossed over the words n the pages. Many times over the past few days, there has been a verse or two that had just rocked me in the respective chapter I was reading! Nothing today.
Hmm…ok…I go to the Psalms…Psalm 13. The Lord always talks to me in the Psalms. Still nothing. Since Psalm 13 is a mere six verses, I determined to read it again…and again…and again. Not moved.
So, I go into prayer. I have a prayer list in my phone that I go through a few times a week, some prayers I pray every day. So as I am preparing – I have the app on my phone open, I have the prayer bulletin from my church laid out, I have my “31 Biblical Virtues to Prayer Over Your Child” card next to it – and (mentally) I’m not there. I don’t feel in my heart that I am ready, dare I say willing, to go before God in prayer.
Now, this isn’t usual. I have usually been able to write something in my journal. There is usually a proverb or two that jumps out at me. The psalms are LOADED with goodness from God. And my prayertime?? Praise God that I can even have the confidence to come before His throne (Heb 10:19-20).
Back to this morning – as I lay prostrate on the floor, I was determined not to get up until I prayed…and prayed for a good amount of time. So, I just prayed whatever came to mind. An unbelieving family member, a friend, my bride, the church…whatever came to mind. Sometimes, I dozed off. (I know because when I looked at the clock, there were some unaccounted for blocks of time.) Other times, I was focused. Other times, I dozed off again. In general, it just wasn’t a good prayertime.
I was quite bothered. What was my problem? Why can’t I get “into it” today? I mean really, I couldn’t do anything on my list of things I like to do during my devotional time? Sad…just sad…disappointing, even.
I put my bible away. Tucked away my journal. Locked my phone. I start getting ready for work. As I’m getting ready, I’m reflecting on what happened so far this morning, and then it hits me! The Lord showed me what was wrong with my morning devotional routine. It’s a routine! It’s rote. It’s mechanical. I’m so focused on what needs to be done first and “allotting” enough time for the next “event” that I am not focused on the prize, namely Christ. My routine is getting in the way of my relationship.
I can’t remember the last time I spent an hour or more just reading and praying over the bible, or just in prayer with my Lord and King, or journaling my gratitude for His kindness to my family and I, or just sitting in absolute silence and waiting for the Lord. Instead, I’ve been trying to cram all these things into and hour or so before I go to work for the next 8 – 9 hours. I was trying to check the block on my devotional time so that I can move to the next block on my schedule. It’s wrong. I’m robbing myself of the chance to abide in God’s love (John 15:9). I’m dishonoring God.
I thank God for this morning. I thank God that He showed me how unfeeling I’ve been in my coming to him. I thank Him for showing me my error in developing processes of worship and missing the benefits that come from realizing that I even have the opportunity to worship. He reminded me that it’s a privilege, not a right…an occasion given through grace, not earned through my works. And I thank Him that He was merciful in doing so.
As I sit here writing this, the sun is still making it’s way above the horizon. A blatant reminder of the grace that He has given us to live another day. If you have breath in your lungs and you are reading this now – you have already received more than you deserve today, as have I. Let’s not forget that. And let’s not get wrapped up in the routine of worship, but more importantly, let’s become engulfed in the One whom we are made to worship!
Before I sat down to write this, I took an opportunity to read over Psalm 13 again. Verses 5-6 says this,
“5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Thank you, Lord, in dealing “bountifully” with me, your servant…