Devotions 101: Do You Give God Time and Space to Speak?
Life does not fail at trying to pull us in a thousand directions sometimes.
It’s like the day starts and we take off running. We go from one task to the next. One conversation to the next. One heart struggle to the next. One “how are we going to pay this bill this week?” to the next. One “is our relationship always going to be this way?” to the next. It becomes all too easy to leave no time to stop, talk to God about it, process and make a decision we have confidence in.
When we get stuck in this cycle, not only are we left with little to no margin regarding time, we’re left with very little margin in our hearts as well. And so, we either become overly solution-oriented and handle things the best we can as they come so we can file it away and move on, or we shut down because we don’t have the capacity to deal.
This is why carving out daily devotional time is truly vital.
For many of us, this time is the only relatively quiet time we get in a day to be in the Word, hear God’s heart, talk to Him about where our heart is, and process through all that life throws our way in a healthy, productive way. This is where we give God time and space to speak. But this question goes beyond that...
Making the time is half the challenge. The other half is actually giving God room to speak and be heard. It’s entirely possible to carve out time for prayer and devotions each day, and still not actually give God time and space to speak to your heart. Life is overwhelming! There are dozens of moving pieces for the average person as it is, then add dozens more if you are a wife and/or a mother. It is very easy to get caught up in everything we are thinking and feeling, and wanting God to do in an instant; so caught up that He gets no opportunity to be heard over the noise we allow to stay in our hearts and our minds; so caught up in what we think needs to happen that we aren’t willing to hear God speak something different.
Years ago when I started DeckDevotionals, I was fresh out of a broken engagement. I was in the process of deciding if I was going to step away from ministry and leading worship for a season to slow down and heal. We had a major family situation that turned all of us inside-out for a long while just surface. Less important, but still in the mix, was a job search and potential career change coming up. My world was turned upside-down, and I had spent weeks trying to figure out what to do about it all to absolutely no avail. When did I talk to God about it? Well... I didn’t.
So one Sunday afternoon, I felt all of this weigh on me in an unbearable way. I walked myself out to the deck in our backyard, sat down with my Bible and a cup of coffee, and said to God, “I am not moving from this place until I hear from you. I want what You want for me.” I will never forget saying those words. I was done fighting to make things go my way, or rationalizing my decisions. I needed my heart to hear clearly from God. The only way I was going to find peace was aligning my heart to His and moving forward with the confidence that I was abiding in Him, even if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted; even if it hurt in the moment, I knew joy was waiting for me on the other side.
He didn’t give me answers that night, but He gave me peace and a plan. I would meet Him on that deck every morning before work that week and I knew by the end I would hear from Him clearly.
And I did. God used that to show me the importance of giving Him time and space to speak, even/especially in the midst of chaos.
We see examples like this all throughout Scripture, too. In Joshua 7, we see a very frustrated and confused Joshua on his face talking to God; frustrated, but going to God with it with an open heart - and God spoke! In Acts 27 we see Paul on a ship destined to shipwreck due to stormy seas, but with peace and confidence because He made room for God to encourage and reassure His heart in the midst of it (v25). (I encourage you to read those passages!)
All of this is to say… it’s one thing to make the time. It is another entirely to give the Lord the time and space to speak to us during that time in the way that He needs to, rather than the way we want Him to.
Something to consider...
Is your heart open to what God has to say, knowing it may not be what you want to hear? Selective hearing with God can be dangerous. Not because He’s vindictive and will “make us pay,”, but because everything He’s called us to do - big and small - is for our good and His glory. Walking outside of His will is bound to bring unnecessary friction and pain as a natural byproduct. Challenge the willingness of your heart today.