It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or not, the easy principles of a daily devotion or personal quiet time habit will improve your quality of life. Taking the time to organize you soul is a lot like making your bed in the morning. Psychologists have found that people who make their beds daily feel happier than those who don’t. “71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy.”
This is how it works. When you make your bed you feel like one little thing is done and it builds into bigger things being done for the rest of the day. You get to working on the rest of your day with success building on success. Even if you have a bad day, you come home to a nicely made bed and no matter how bad the day went you have accomplished one thing you feel happy about. In one of the best graduation speeches a Navy Seal talks about making your bed. The guy or gal who didn’t get the bed made said, “Oh no, my room’s a wreck, too.”
When you sit down and quiet your soul (your mind, your will and your emotions) for 15, 20 or 30 minuets before you start your day, you know you’re working on your inner life. We say all the time at The Church Next Door that there are four keys to a successful devotional time: 1) Be STILL, 2) Be Sincere, 3) Be Simple, and 4) Believe God will Answer. Take a notebook and Bible and sit with God. Share your day in words on paper and verbally. What comes out is all the wrinkles. “God forgive me, I have been in too much of a hurry.” “God I haven’t been kind to my husband.” “Jesus, help my co-worker, she is going through a break-up and I don’t know what to say.”
Reading the Bible as part of your devotional time will help you see God has always loved imperfect people and used them to do great things. Psalm 142:1 Says, “God, I’m crying out to you! I lift up my voice boldly to beg for your mercy.” Reading just one chapter of Psalms or Proverbs every day brings great wisdom and understanding. Many times I find words there that I need for perspective in life.
When you talk with God every day, you tend to see yourself as less perfect and in need of help. You become a person who understands grace. A person with a heart of grace is more kind and gentle with others. You become someone who knows they have been heard by someone who loves them: God. That’s the kind of person who can listen to others, looks for answers and knows team work is the best way to get stuff done. The truth is, when I don’t feel good about myself I am less patient with others. When my soul is well (listen sometime to the old hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul”) I have extra grace to give others.
I learned in college by reading Gordon McDonalds Ordering Your Private World that a quiet time every day improved my relationship with God and others. At that time I would lay in my bed at the end of my day. I prayed, read my Bible, wrote in my journal, reviewed my past day and looked into my next with God’s help. My grades improved. My relationships were healthier. I felt more peace and closer to God. These principles have been in my life for over 30 years. I’ve tried them, abandoned them because of busyness in my life, and returned every time. What’s keeping you from starting today?