Routines

Did you know a routine can become a bad thing? I didn’t really realize this until my mid 40’s. For example, in golf a routine is a great thing. As our children started playing golf, and especially when they started competing, routine is something that became very important. A routine for when they stepped on the Tee box. A routine in the fairway. A putting routine. The idea was to keep them comfortable….and in focus. Whether they were playing good or bad the routine was a comfort and would help them execute without too much over-thinking or stress. I like that!

I have a great NEW routine in the morning that has been cultivated over the last 4 years. I do it every day even if it is one of those days with much to do. I just get up earlier. When I get up, I go to the bathroom, take my supplements, mix my “Spark”, feed the dog and then let her out. That’s when I head to my prayer chair…where I have my Bible, my headset with music, my laptop, several good books, highlighters, pens, a blanket, a scented candle that I light, and a stool for my feet. I sit and have a prolonged quiet time. I love my morning routine!

The key to spiritual growth is establishing healthy and holy routines. I call them spiritual disciplines. But we need to pay attention to a very important factor. When a routine becomes routine, we need to disrupt it. Why?

Because sacred routines can become empty rituals. They can become so routine that you are just going through the motions to the point that you are on auto pilot. When a pilot puts an airplane on auto pilot, he can leave his seat and do something else. When we are on auto pilot in our quiet time, then we miss all God has for us. It becomes something we check off our list without any meaning. :o) Your mind actually turns off to the “engagement” with God. When we learn how but forget the why, we start going through the motions spiritually.

Psalm 42:8, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—A prayer to the God of my life.” Did you catch the last part of that verse? It’s not just praying for the sake of praying. He is praying to the God of his life. That’s relationship. That’s engagement with God!

Lately I have started to realize my prayers have become routine. I have caught myself on auto pilot in my prayers….saying the same thing the same way. I have examined the routines in my life, even how I tell my kids I love them. They have heard from me “I love you!” millions of times now. I have started to “ditch my routines” in my prayers and in my words to others.

The way I say I love you to our kids has changed. I say things like, “I believe in you!” Or, “I admire this in you!” “You stir my heart!” Or, “You rock!” As for prayer? It has taken some work. I was in too much of a routine….a rut…of my words…which….made praying monotonous.

YOU may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “What are you talking about?” If so, then I am sorry. But if you are reading this and bells are going off, I beg you to “shake it up!” Seriously, Disrupt your routine. Your words. Why? Because God wants us to be fresh and engaged. Our kids and others need to be engaged by our words…fed and nurtured too!

It is my opinion that we need to quit praying out of memory and start praying out of vibrance…imagination…anything but routine. Our spontaneity and being sensitive to the day…whatever it brings…helps us to be in prayer moment by moment. Understanding God has personality and loves it when we are fully engaged.

Over and over the writers of Scripture make the same request as recorded in Psalm 54:2, “Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth.” Are we really expecting God to hear us and to act? Then there needs to be meaning and heart behind our words, not a memorized script.

I love to have a new dress to wear to a special occasion. Why? Because I like new and different…a freshness. I think if we are honest, most people do! Then why in the world wouldn’t we want “fresh” and “new” in our prayers and in our words to our children, spouses, friends, and loved ones…even strangers?

I encourage you today….examine…if you need a new routine. Are you going through the motions in an area of your life, especially your spiritual life and you need to make a change? Don’t allow yourself to live on “auto pilot” in the significant areas of your life. God and people love our full engagement and fresh words.

Engage today in a fresh routine…one that makes you think and, most of all, pay attention.

“When I am praying the most eloquently, I am getting the least accomplished in my prayer life. But when I stop getting eloquent and give God less theology and shut up and just gaze upward and wait for God to speak to my heart He speaks with such power that I have to grab a pencil and a notebook and take notes on what God is saying to my heart. ” ~A. W. Tozer

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