Over the next few weeks and months, we want to introduce you to a set of practices, lifted from the lifestyle of Jesus that will draw you into His presence and invite you to become more like Him.
If the conversation around being formed into the likeness of Jesus is new for you, we have created an introduction to the nuts and bolts of following Jesus which you can read HERE
Let us introduce you to our first practice, spending time with Jesus day by day.
“Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
On nine occasions in Luke’s biography of Jesus’ life, we find Him retreating from the busyness of demonstrating the arrival of the Kingdom, to enjoy time alone with the Father. In the quiet place, Jesus experienced communion; intimate moments of being with God.
Jesus needed to spend time with the Father, and if He needed it, we really need it too.
We want to invite you to carve out moments in your day to spend time with Jesus.
For some of us who have been following Jesus for a while, the invitation to this practice may remind us of rushing through a quick skim of the scriptures or saying a quick prayer to tick a religious box and get something from God. We want to invite you to consider this practice differently.
From the days of David, Daniel and the disciples, from St. Benedict and right the way through to today, followers of Jesus have practiced ‘Daily Offices’, intentional moments of withdrawing from our days to be with God.
Don’t get put off by the word ‘office’. It comes from the Latin word, opus, which means ‘work’. As we carve out moments to spend time with God, we don’t do it to achieve or prove anything, we simply retreat like Jesus to to be with the Father and open ourselves up to His work in our lives.
Pete Scazzero describes the Daily Office like this:
“The Daily Offices are about creating a rhythm of stopping to be with God at set times each day in order to cultivate our personal relationship with Him throughout the day – that we might prefer the love of Christ above all else.”
For the past year, our community has gathered around 321, a weekly email that encourages us to practice Daily Offices, by inviting us to spend time daily with Jesus through daily scripture readings, 3 questions, 2 prayers and 1 practice. If you are unfamiliar with 321, though this practice we want to show you how to use it to spend time with Jesus.
If you want to sign up to 321, you can do so HERE
This week, we want to invite us all to build moments into our day to intentionally spend time with Jesus. If this practice is new for you, we want to invite you to find one moment to work through the practice below. If this is already a regular rhythm for you, we want to invite you to build upon that by having a go at another Daily Office in a different part in your day (for instance, if you spend time with Jesus regularly in the morning, you may want to try out another set time with Him in the evening).
However, at the end of this week, we don’t want you to stop. This practice is a keystone habit, or a super-habit – it is the foundation that all the other practices are built upon and the more you spend time with Jesus in this way, the more it will form your heart and your actions.
Take 15 minutes in the quietness of the morning to spend time with Jesus. Find a quiet space in your home with your bible and the 321 email. For most people, mornings are the best time to put this into practice, before the day begins.
This practice has four aspects to it, allowing you to enjoy a balanced diet of silence, scripture, reflection and prayer.
Take a few moments to centre yourself on Jesus in silence. Sit still and breathe slowly, deeply and naturally.
Before you get into a day of work, task and responsibility, taking a moment to be still awakens us to the truth that we are marked from our first waking moment by an identity that is given to us by grace; an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will put on that day. In the stillness, we rest into our identity and open ourselves up to the work of the Holy Spirit before our work begins.
Try to be silent for two minutes at first.
If your mind wanders, utter the name of Jesus out loud to focus your attention on Him. As you make this a habit, try to increase the amount of time you spend in silence by a minute, remembering that the point is to rest in the presence of Jesus and not achieve anything.
Open up your bible to the daily scripture reading from 321. Before you begin reading, pray “Come, Holy Spirit” as a prayer of expectation that you will hear the voice of God through His word.
In upcoming weeks, we will be exploring different ways to read your bible, but at this stage, read the scripture slowly, not skimming through it but fully taking it in. You may want to read it out loud or take some notes to help you focus.
Take one of the reflection questions from 321 and in silence or prayerful conversation with Jesus, consider what He is seeing and what He is saying to you.
By reflecting on a question for a few moments at the start of your day, this will help draw your mind back to this question throughout the day.
Spend a few minutes praying for others and laying before Jesus the concerns of your day.
Close out your time by praying aloud the Morning Prayer from 321.
As you have a go this week, remember that the goal is not curating the perfect practice, it’s enjoying the presence of Jesus, taking your character and your context into consideration
If this practice is already a regular feature in your life, keep going! You may want to consider adding another moment to spend time with Jesus, perhaps in the evening. Follow the same rhythm as the morning, using the 321 Evening Prayer and the weekly Psalm as your scripture reading.
This practice can easily be adapted to invite the whole family in! You may want to enjoy time with Jesus by yourself first thing, but at a point in your day, after a meal or during a break from home-school, you could gather your family together, asking certain family members to lead certain parts of the practice themselves. As parents, you know what works best for your kids – keep it simple and keep it interactive.
If your kids love getting up at the crack of dawn, making it difficult for you to find a moment to spend time with Jesus without distractions, consider finding a moment once they’ve settled into some homeschool work or a fun activity, where you could find some space in another part of the room with your bible and in prayer. Even if this time comes with interruptions, don’t miss the significance of your children witnessing you spending time with Jesus as a normal rhythm of your life.
As some of you serve on the frontline, your schedule is full and regularly shifting. Finding the same time each day to do this practice may be difficult, but can we encourage you to look ahead and find 10 minutes for this practice somewhere in your day. As you are aware, in the face of hardship and complexity, the need to rest in and receive from Jesus only increases.
If your phone is a distraction for you during your time with Jesus, why not take a screenshot of 321 (or even go old-school and print it off or write it down), and turn your phone to Airplane Mode to limit notifications.