10 STEPS TO A DAILY WORSHIP TIME
CAUTION: Reading and applying the teachings in this article may be hazardous to your secular life. You could experience a spiritual awakening and renewal that will transform your life. Follow these principles at your own risk.
This post is a section from The Disciple-Maker’s Toolkit by Dr. Tom Cocklereece. As of July 14, 2011 pre-orders are being received.
Disciple Coaches should use this guide among the first steps to encourage increased spiritual vitality with the coachee. Expect accountability by asking good questions each week related to the daily worship time of the coachee.
Often called prayer time, quiet time, devotional time, meditation, or private worship, having a consistent daily worship time is THE one most important activity you can do to increase and maintain your spiritual growth and vitality. You will note that all four batteries of questions on the Simple Discipleship Spiritual Vitality Assessment includes one statement relating to having a daily worship time that includes bible reading. There are two big reasons why daily private worship is so important:
1) Intimacy with God: The Lord desires his disciples to be close to him. Genesis 32 includes a story about Jacob who experienced life transforming worship. Through his life Jacob had seemingly experience a superficial relationship with God but on this occasion he refused to let go of the Lord until he received a blessing. That is the kind of intimacy God desires of his disciples!
2) Human nature: Our humanity breeds forgetfulness when it comes to spiritual things. James 1:22-25 indicates that a disciple can look into the mirror of God’s word, walk away, and immediately forget his or her appearance before God, which leads to a failure to apply the teachings of the Bible.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25 (NKJV)
UNDERSTANDING PRIVATE WORSHIP
Meditation: It is important to make a distinction between Christian meditation and other forms of religious meditation:
Christian meditation involves “filling one’s mind” with Bible verses, prayer thoughts, and the presence and power of God. Remarkably, this activity is spiritually revitalizing and physically relaxing at the same time. Christian meditation also carries the idea of chewing on a bit of food thoroughly to obtain full nourishment from it. The Hebrew word “hg#h#””” (hegeh) has the idea of a lion growling in satisfaction over food. Christian meditation is a major opportunity for disciples to access the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to tear down evil spiritual strongholds within their own lives.
On the other hand, eastern religious meditation calls for one to “empty one’s mind” in order to achieve a relaxed state. Some practices of eastern meditation such as yoga involve subtle forms of idolatry.
Fasting: Fasting is the discipline of going without food for a period of time. Many Bible characters including Jesus fasted from food, water, and/or wine for a prescribed length of time such as 40 days. A 40 day fast is difficult and may be harmful to your health. Fasts of a shorter duration are also recorded in Scripture such as one day until sundown (Judges 20:26), and seven days (1 Samuel 31:13). The practice of fasting can be an important part of the prayer life of disciples, as it intensifies the experience of intimacy with God. However, strong caution must be expressed to those with overriding health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and other problems. Ask your physician about fasting before attempting the spiritual discipline. DO NOT FAST if you have been warned that it could be harmful to your health and life.
For some people a partial or modified fast may be as useful as a total fast while reducing some of the discomfort and danger to one’s health.
The quality of your public worship depends directly on the frequency, intensity, and intimacy of your daily worship.
Journaling: This discipline is often practiced as a temporary or ongoing part of private worship. It may assist in focusing one’s worship, increasing confidence in praying, building faith, and tracking effectiveness. Journaling is not the same as keeping a diary. Record the following items:
- Date and time
- Location- (home, Marietta, GA, back patio)
- Bible reading reference
- Impressions from God
- Your response and plan of action
- Special issues of concern
- Three prayer requests; leave space to record when and how God answers
These are intended as guideline, so modify the instructions as much or as little as desired.
STEPS TO PRIVATE WORSHIP
This guide provides valuable steps that can transform your life.
- Preparation: Before you begin having a daily worship time, gather your Bible, a blank journal and a pen, placing them in the place where you will spend your devotional time. It may be best to have your private worship in the same place every day.
- Time of Day: My rule of thumb is, “What works for you? Many Scriptures suggest that the morning is the best time to enjoy a daily worship time (Ps 5:3; 59:16; 88:13) Of course there is biblical evidence of having a private worship time at any time of the day or night (Gen 32:24-30; Ex 3:1-6; 1 Chr 4:9-10; 1 Sam 3:1-15; Ps 55:17; Matt 1:18-25; Acts 16:24-25; Rev 1:9-11).
- Bible Reading: God speaks through His word, the Bible. You may not hear him speak as a person but you may have impressions. Daily living tends to condition people to be unable to discern, understand, or distinguish these impressions, so it may require the consistent practice of a daily worship time. It is best to read through a Bible book or even the whole Bible during daily worship times. Read one to three chapters each day. However, the focus of daily worship time is not Bible study.
- Bible Memory, Marking, and Meditation: Find one verse in your reading each day that you may meditate on through the day. You may choose to mark or memorize verses that you find important.
- Prayer: You may choose to use model prayers as a guide such as the Lord’s Prayer in Mt 6:9-13. You may use the ACTS prayer model: A=adoration, C=confession, T=thanksgiving, and S=supplications (requests). Another model prayer is the hand model.
Pinky Promise Prayer: The first prayer anyone should pray is for salvation. With the hand prayer model, you can make a pinky promise prayer to God. It sounds elementary, but young people certainly understand it. It is a prayer confession and invitation for salvation by Jesus Christ. You must receive Christ BEFORE he will hear your other prayers. Of course, God hears all of the prayers of children who have not reached a point of accountability and understanding of sin (Dt 1:39; Is 7:16).
Disciple Coaches may use the Pinky Promise Prayer as a means of witnessing to young people.
The daily hand prayer: This prayer is illustrated with your hand. As you hold your hand in front of your heart with your thumb closest to you, number each finger as illustrated.
1) Pray for those closest to you
2) Pray for those who point the way for you
3) Government leaders
4) Those who are sick, the poor, the defenseless, and persecuted.
These are simple prayer models but do what works for you and be sure to grow in prayer by using your own words.
6. Devotional Aides: You may use a daily devotional resource whether it is a book for the purpose or internet lesson. However, these may become the focus and can be distracting from the real purpose of daily worship. In fact, internet based devotionals often become substitutes for quality time spent with God. Reading a quick devotional delivered to your iPhone or droid is more like a drug than genuine devotional time with God. It makes you think you spent time with God but without the benefits. It is often too easy to become distracted by the sound notification of new emails. There is the tendency to interrupt your worship time by checking your emails for just a minute which often leads to more clicks of the mouse. They can become part of the same daily noise that prevents one from hearing God’s still small voice. Some useful devotional aides are:
- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
- Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
- Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship by Kenneth Boa
- Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Spiritual Growth by Kenneth Boa
- Online Bible apps and devotionals such as: In Touch daily-devotional
7. Duration: The duration of your daily worship time will depend greatly on how much time you have without distractions and the cares of life and work. There will be times when your time will be short…10 minutes, and there will be times when you will get lost in prayer…30 minutes or more.
8. Listen: When you have finished praying—don’t get up and leave quickly. Instead, give yourself some time for the Lord to give you understanding or an impression. Remember that the Lord will never lead you to break either of the two Great Commandments—1) Love God above all, and 2) Love people including your enemies.
9. Be Consistent: Establishing a daily worship time requires consistency. Time, place, process, and length of time factor into developing a consistent and enjoyable experience. Human behavior experts tell us that it takes 21 to 30 days to break a habit or establish a new one. The Bible indicates a 40 day period of consistency may be required to establish transformational behaviors. Prophets and leaders fasted and prayed for 40 days, and God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent which suggests that period of time to change their behavior (Dt 9:25;1 Ki 19:8; Jon 3:4). The point is that you must not skip a day as you are establishing a daily worship time. If you skip a day then start the count over again.
Disciple Coaches should ask accountability questions to encourage consistency in daily worship times. i.e. “Out of the last 7 days, how many days did you have a daily private worship time?” “Please share some things you have written in your journal.”
10. Journal: Using the guidelines on journaling listed at the beginning of this section, journal your experience. Remember to go back in your journal and record when and how God answers a prayer concern. Recording answered prayer is a faith builder! If the place and time are recorded, the worshipper is able to virtually go back in time and experience the same feelings of the past whether good or bad. The experience is powerful and transformational.
- What practices or steps would you add to the daily worship experience?
- How has God impressed or spoken to you as a direct result of your private worship experience?
- Do you fast occasionally as a part of your private worship time? If so, how often and describe your process and experience.
- Do you journal? If so, describe how it helps your private worship experience.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
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