Beyond regular habits of prayer and Bible reading


We are creatures of habit and this can be used to great advantage for the cultivation of a spiritual life. Regular habits of silence, solitude, examen, lectio divina and journaling have been established in my life over the last few years. This helps me greatly, but I want more.

More recently, I have been listening through the whole Bible online. I am now listening to audio readings of Exodus and Mark at the YouVersion Bible app. I am encouraged that it is more viable than I thought possible. Going through the Bible is a challenge for me. Now I have even gone through the complex book of Job which to me is quite an achievement. This helps me greatly but I want more.

There were several moments in recent weeks when I felt a holy discontent. Where it sprang from I cannot remember. They were invitations from a heavenly source. An invitation to go beyond routines and habits as important as these were. An invitation to love God with first love, with desire, passion, enthusiasm, and emotions. An invitation to love God with more than just my intellect and will.

We are to live out our spirituality by faith without depending heavily on our emotions. However, if will and mind set on following God can be accompanied by strong love and passion for my Lord in this long journey called life, why not? Having a love relationship devoid of emotions all my life is not my idea of a real relationship. God did not create emotions, desires and passions in me only to want it set aside when He relates to me. He wants my soul and desires to want Him and enthrone Him too.

I now pray more often for this grace: “Lord grant me a passionate love for You. I want to be able to love You with all my mind… AND emotions AND passion AND desires. Help me return to the first love.”

I know I cannot manufacture this. It’s not sustainable. It has to be a gift. A grace. So I ask in faith and wait patiently for Him to stir my affections as I seek Him during Lent.

Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ (Mark 12:29,30 The Message)

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  • I’m encouraged by your desire to grow in intimacy and relationship with our God, through prayer, meditation, soaking in His Word. God’s been leading me back to basics as well this year, setting aside more structured and purposeful time for prayer and reflection. Another helpful exercise is reading the Bible out loud, as according to one of my mentor-pastors, it engages more senses at the same time, sight and hearing, and also our speech/voice.

    • Hi Timothy,
      Reading the Bible aloud sounds like an efficient way to listen to God in Scriptures since it engages all the senses (except physical taste). When a practice gives us life, we should welcome it into our daily routine.
      As fellow pastors we ought to “devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6). More importantly, as children of God, we need to draw near to love our Father and follow the Son as closely as we can, in gratitude for all he has done for us.
      Thanks for your comment.

  • But did God create emotions? Or were they the loss of rational control of most of the brain when God punished us?
    Perhaps what you call First Love is the heavenly equivalent to humping his leg like a dog. We are not the seven churches in Asia: our access to the Holy Spirit is limited to the words of the message, rather than in outpourings or an Apostle’s laying of hands. We cannot pretend that we know Love like they did.
    What is love in its true form but raw benevolence with motive?
    What is affection but the pleasure derived from security from the fear of not being loved, much like the comfort that the sound of rain makes hitting a roof over your head? And if affection is from fear, then perfect love has no affection.

    • Hi Gordon, I have read your interesting comment at least ten times and I still don’t know exactly how to reply. Perhaps readers of this blog can chip in. One thing I am sure of is love involves a response of the whole person: the mind, will, feeling, and body, in response to God’s great love for us.

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