Daily Riches: An Hour Well Employed (Allen Verhey, Pete Scazzero, and Francis de Sales)

“Prayer is focused attention to God.” Pete Scazzero

“In learning to pray, Christians learn …a practice – and the good intrinsic to that practice. They learn, that is, to attend to God, to look to God. And they learn that not just intellectually, not just as an idea. In learning to pray, they learn a human activity that engages their bodies as well as their minds, their affections and passions and loyalties as well as their rationality, and that focuses their lives and their common life upon God. To attend to God is not easy to learn – or painless. And given our inveterate attention to ourselves and to our own needs and wants, we frequently corrupt it. …In learning to pray, Christians learn to look to God and, after the blinding vision, to begin to look at all else in a new light. In prayer they do not attend to something beyond God that God – or  prayer – might be used in order to reach; they attend to God. That is the good intrinsic to prayer, the good ‘internal to that form of activity,’ simple attention to God.” Allen Verhey

“How to meditate? Bring yourself back to the point quite gently. And even if you do nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back a thousand times, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.” Francis de Sales

“Lord, teach us to pray.”  Luke 11:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your prayer aimed at “focused attention to God” or are you often easily distracted by your “inveterate attention” to yourself and your own needs and wants? If you’re easily distracted, can you forgive yourself, admitting you’re like everyone else?
  • When worries, fantasies, noises, sinful thoughts and the making of plans disrupt your attention to God, are you able to “bring yourself back to the point quite gently” – with no self recrimination, self-defense or further distraction?
  • Can you bring your heart back to attentiveness to God, even if in one session it’s “a thousand times?”

Abba, I’m encouraged that with each distraction, I have the opportunity to turn to you and attend to you again. I’m glad to do this over and over as long as I must, knowing you’re waiting for me there, eager for my return.

For More: The Art of Loving God by Francis de Sales

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: All Faced Calmly … In Good Time – On Silence (Thomas Keating, Soren Kiekegaard, John Fox, Parker Palmer, Melodia and Mother Teresa)

“Silence is God’s first language;

everything else is a poor translation.
In order to hear that language,
we must learn to be still and to rest in God.”
Thomas Keating

“Prayer is not hearing yourself talk,
but being silent,
staying silent
and waiting until you hear God.”
Soren Kiekegaard

“Stillness is where you meet with the essence of things…. In stillness we can begin to let go of external voices, stereotypes, and clichés that crowd out original, personal and internal voices. Those discordant outer voices fade away in stillness. Stillness is a place of rooting oneself in a much larger field of being.” John Fox

”But deep down, we know that when we step back, breathe, allow our agitation to settle, and simply start paying attention, we often see new possibilities in situations that once seemed intractable. The wisdom traditions, religious and secular, have always claimed that only in this contemplative state are we able to touch the truth, whether truth be understood as the fruit of mental acuity or of mystical experience.” Parker Palmer

“With silence, problems appear in a less somber light, in their real dimensions, and seem wholly tractable. Daily worries lose their force, until they appear banal. Hurrying makes no sense. To where am I running, you ask yourself, and why am I running so? Anguish does not exist here any more. All is in its place and will be faced calmly, in good time.”  Melodia

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. …Souls of prayer are souls of great silence. Silence gives us a new outlook on every-thing.” Mother Teresa

“If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do.” Job 13:5

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you learned “to be still and rest in God” as the “wisest thing you could do?
  • Does practicing contemplation have a significant place in your life? If not, how instead will you “root yourself in a much larger field of being?”
  • Have you experienced everything falling into place in silence – to be “faced calmly in good time?” Have you experienced being given a “new outlook on every-thing” in silence? Have you given silence a genuine try?

Abba, help me to make the space and time for necessary, life-giving silence.

For More: Invitation to Love by Thomas Keating

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: Delighting With the God Who Delights in You (James Martin, C. S. Lewis and Anthony de Mello)

“To please God … to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness … to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible … but so it is.” C. S. Lewis

We may pour out our grief to God, or come with our requests. “But there is more to a relationship than that. Praying solely in this way would be like having a friendship whose only purpose was to enable you to ask for things. So besides lamenting to God and asking God for things, there is another way of being with God – and that is joyfully. …St. Ignatius encourages people to imagine themselves alongside Jesus. It’s different than imagining yourself with God, who is often imagined more as a ‘presence.’ Imagining yourself with Jesus means something more specific. …This may mean something as simple as sitting joyfully with [Jesus] in prayer and imagining [Jesus] sitting joyfully with you. …laugh with the God who smiles when seeing you, rejoices over your very existence, and takes delight in you, all the days of your life. …In his book Armchair Mystic, Mark Thibodeaux, a Jesuit spiritual writer, distinguishes between four stages of prayer. The first is talking at God (which includes petitionary prayer, that is, asking for help). The second is talking to God (which includes expressing your feelings and emotions, frustrations and hopes to God). The third is listening to God (a more contemplative way of reflecting on what is going on in your daily life as well as being attentive to the inner movements of your soul during prayer). The final way is being with God (this is closer to ‘centering prayer,’ a prayer of presence). …One of my favorite suggestions for a meditation is Anthony deMello’s statement: ‘Look at God looking at you … and smiling.’ DeMellos’ image is essentially an invitation into a prayer of joy and contentment, into what you might call private, one-on-one time with a smiling God, into seeing the world the way that God does.” James Martin

“you are … God’s special possession”
1 Peter 2:9

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • “Do you think of Jesus as “smiling?” …smiling at you?
  • …rejoicing in you, like an artist in her work? like a mother in her son?
  • Are you able to simply “be with God?” …focusing on being “present” to him?

Abba, let me taste more of your love.

For More: Armchair Mystic by Mark Thibodeaux

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Gradually Being Freed From Habitual Hardness of Heart (Thomas Merton)

“Even the capacity to recognize our condition before God is itself a grace. We cannot always attain it at will. To learn mediation does not, therefore, mean learning an artificial technique for infallibly producing ‘compunction’ and the ‘sense of our nothingness’ when ever we please. On the contrary, this would be the result of violence and would be inauthentic. Mediation implies the capacity to receive this grace whenever God wishes to grant it to us, and therefore a permanent disposition to humility, attention to reality, receptivity, pliability. To learn to meditate then means to gradually get free from habitual hardness of heart, torpor and grossness of mind, due to arrogance and non-acceptance of simple reality, or resistance to the concrete demands of God’s will.” Thomas Merton

“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do
flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • In his grace, has God allowed you to “recognize your condition before God?” What has that meant for you?
  • Merton says we must have a “permanent disposition to humility, attention to reality, receptivity [and] pliability” to develop the “capacity to receive God’s grace when he wishes to grant it to us.” Can you pray slowly through this list, asking God to show you any areas in your life that need to change?
  • Are you developing practices like Sabbath, solitude and silence, or like meditation and wordless prayer so that God has more and more unhindered access to your heart? …so that your “capacity” to receive from him is increasing?
  • Are you taking risks with your heart, perhaps resisting “the concrete demands of God’s will” even though you know better?

Abba, by your grace, soften my heart to you, so that I may receive fuller, even more needed grace.

For More: Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: A Dialogue of Love That Never Stops (Thomas Merton and Elizabeth of the Trinity)

“This is the real end of meditation – it teaches you how to become aware of the presence of God; and most of all it aims at bringing you to a state of almost constant loving attention to God, and dependence on Him. [It teaches] …a man how to work himself free of created things and temporal concerns, in which he finds only confusion and sorrow, and enter into a conscious and loving contact with God….” Thomas Merton

“I love to penetrate beyond the veil of the soul to this inner sanctuary where we live alone with God. He wants us entirely to himself, and is making there within us a cherished solitude. Listen to everything that is being sung … in his heart. It is Love, the infinite love that envelops us and desires to give us a share … in all his blessedness. The whole Blessed Trinity dwells in us, the whole of that mystery which will be our vision in heaven. Let it be our cloister. You tell me that your life is passed there. So is mine. I am ‘Elizabeth of the Trinity’ – Elizabeth disappearing, losing herself, allowing herself to be invaded by the Three. Let us live for love, always surrendered, immolating ourselves at every moment, by doing God’s will without searching for extraordinary things. Then let us make ourselves quite tiny, allowing ourselves to be carried, like a babe in it’s mother’s arms, by him who is our all…. In the morning let us wake in Love. All day long let us surrender ourselves to Love, by doing the will of God, under his gaze, with him, in him, for him alone…. And then, when evening comes, after a dialogue of love that has never stopped in our hearts, let us go to sleep still in love. And if we are aware of any faults, let us simply abandon them to Love, which is a consuming fire….” Elizabeth of the Trinity

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine….”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine giving “constant loving attention to God?  … living a day under (and aware of) his gaze?
  • What are you doing to become more aware of God’s presence in your day? …to become less aware of “temporal concerns?” … to be better at “attending” to him?
  • Can you simply abandon yourself and your faults to Love?

Abba, before I die, may I experience at least one day under your gaze, with you, in you alone, where a dialogue of love between us never stops.

For More: Voices of the Saints by Bert Bhezzi

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: An Hour Well Employed (Allen Verhey, Pete Scazzero, and Francis de Sales)

“Prayer is focused attention to God.” Peter Scazzero

“In learning to pray, Christians learn …a practice–and the good intrinsic to that practice. They learn, that is, to attend to God, to look to God. And they learn that not just intellectually, not just as an idea. In learning to pray, they learn a human activity that engages their bodies as well as their minds, their affections and passions and loyalties as well as their rationality, and that focuses their lives and their common life upon God. To attend to God is not easy to learn–or painless. And given our inveterate attention to ourselves and to our own needs and wants, we frequently corrupt it. …In learning to pray, Christians learn to look to God and, after the blinding vision, to begin to look at all else in a new light. In prayer they do not attend to something beyond God that God–or  prayer–might be used in order to reach; they attend to God. That is the good intrinsic to prayer, the good ‘internal to that form of activity,’ simple attention to God.” Allen Verhey

“How to meditate? Bring yourself back to the point quite gently. And even if you do nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back a thousand times, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.” Francis de Sales

“Lord, teach us to pray.”  Luke 11:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your prayer aimed at “focused attention to God” or are you often easily distracted by your “inveterate attention” to yourself and your own needs and wants? If you’re easily distracted, can you forgive yourself, admitting you’re like everyone else?
  • When worries, fantasies, noises, sinful thoughts and the making of plans disrupt your attention to God, are you able to “bring yourself back to the point quite gently” – with no self recrimination, self-defense or further distraction?
  • Can you bring your heart back to attentiveness to God, even if in one session it’s “a thousand times?”

Abba, I’m encouraged that with each distraction, I have the opportunity to turn to you and attend to you again. I’m content to do this over and over as long as I must, and I know you’ll ever be lovingingly waiting for my return.

For More: The Art of Loving God by Francis de Sales

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Spiritual Formation and the Love of Books (Henry Ward Beecher and Charles H. Spurgeon)

“Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?” Henry Ward Beecher

“He was inspired, and yet he wants books!
He had been preaching for thirty years, and yet he wants books!
He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!
He had a wider experience than most men do, and yet he wants books!
He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things that it was not lawful for a man to utter, and yet he wants books!
He had written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!” Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the Apostle Paul

“Give yourself to reading. …Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them…digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be ‘much not many.’” Spurgeon

 “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus,
and the books, especially the parchments.”
2 Timothy 4:13

“But beyond this, my son, be warned:
the writing of many books is endless,
and excessive devotion to books
is wearying to the body.”
Ecclesiastes 12:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do agree that both reading too little or reading too much can be a problem?
  • Do you carve out time to read regularly and deeply? Do you also read widely – e.g., interacting with authors from other times, other continents, other cultures – people’s whose temperament, race, gender, economic status, politics or religion is very different from yours?
  • Can you relate to the danger of “putting meditation away for the sake of much reading?” If this is a temptation for you, what is behind it? What exactly is the danger for you?

Abba, thank you for all the men and women whose books I turn to again and again. Their words help me to hear your Words. Draw me closer to you through them.

For More:  Lectures to My Students by Charles H. Spurgeon
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

 

Daily Riches: Practicing Attentiveness to the Divine Presence Within (Thomas Keating and Gerald May) *

“Contemplative prayer begins to make us aware of the divine presence within us, the source of true happiness. As soon as we begin to taste the peace that comes from the regular practice of contemplative prayer, it relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds,’ of aversions and desires that were based on emotional programs for happiness that might have worked for children, but that are, in fact, killing us.” Thomas Keating

“In one sense, quiet prayer is really nothing other than the practice of faithful attentiveness. I am not speaking here of meditation that in­volves guided imagery or scriptural reflections, but of a more contemplative practice in which one just sits still and stays awake with God. This kind of meditation is extremely difficult, especially in the midst of battles with addiction, because it gives us nothing special to do, no fancy ways to entertain our­selves or to escape from the simple truth of the moment. Attentive meditation can be a true ascetic practice. It is like fasting for the mind. One only sits there, inclined toward God, noticing the thoughts and sensations that come and go, adding nothing to them, subtracting nothing from them. The mind is allowed to be what it is, but it is seen. When properly practiced and truly graced, this kind of meditation—to the extent that we can bear it—can be very powerful in exposing and vaporizing mind tricks.” Gerald May

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I am in you. …
The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Jesus in John 14:20-21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you identify “emotional programs for happiness” in place in your life that are “killing” you instead?
  • Do you believe the words of Jesus that as God’s child, God dwells in you? How often are you aware of this “divine presence within” you? Can you simply be “faithfully attentive” to it?
  • The regular practice of contemplative prayer “relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds’…” and gives us peace. The world’s demands are relentless, so it is any wonder that this relativizing work must also be “regular” or relentless?
  • Is your practice of contemplative prayer helping you find peace, and expose and vaporize “mind tricks?”

Abba, help me to recognize and reject my emotional programs for happiness, as I regularly spend time in your presence and you lovingly put the world’s demands and desires into perspective for me. Help me to grow in my awareness of your divine presence in me, and find my happiness there.

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For More: The Human Condition by Thomas Keating

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“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” (Marie Antionette) , and thus “Men more often require to be reminded than informed.” (Samuel Johnson) The purpose of Daily Riches is to return again and again to a list of critical concepts at the core of the spiritual life. “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you [may] already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.” (2 Peter 1:12)  I appreciate your interest! When you find this helpful, please share! – Bill

Daily Riches: Instructed by God in the Morning (Andrew Bonar and Charles Spurgeon) *

“By the grace of God and the strength of His Holy Spirit I desire to lay down the rule not to speak to man until I have spoken to God; not to do anything with my hand until I have been upon my knees; not to read letters or papers until I have read something of the Holy Scriptures.” Andrew Bonar

“With the earliest birds I will make one more singer in the great concert-hall of God. …I will give my best time, the first hour of the day to the praise of my God.” Charles H. Spurgeon

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house
and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

“As for me, I call to God
and Yahweh saves me.
Evening, morning and noon,
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.”
Psalm 55:16,17

“In the morning bring me word
of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.”   
Psalm 143:8

“The Lord Yahweh …
wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen
like one being instructed.”
Isaiah 50: 4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When is your “best time” to attend to God and his Word? What would be the value in making this your first “conversation” of the day?
  • This is no doubt an area where to “fail to plan is to plan to fail.” Do you have a plan to make sure that you attend to God during your day?
  • I’ve found the ancient practice of the “Daily Office” very helpful in this regard. Here’s more about that.

Abba, the temptation to rush into my day, with all of its demands and stimulation, is strong. Help me to seek you first in stillness, silence and solitude so that I can hear the word of your “unfailing love” before I do anything else.

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For More: Diary and Life by Andrew Bonar

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Contemplation (John Eudes Bamberger) *

“When you are faithful in [silent meditation] … you will slowly experience yourself in a deeper way.  Because in this useless hour in which you do nothing ‘important’ or urgent you have to come to terms with your basic powerlessness, you have to feel your fundamental inability to solve your or other people’s problems or to change the world. When you do not avoid that experience but live through it, you will find out that your many projects, plans, and obligations become less urgent, crucial, and important and lose their power over you.” John Eudes Bamberger

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you able to go to the place the Psalmist writes about, where your soul is quieted and you experience great love, peace, protection, and acceptance from your heavenly parent?
  • Do you have a deep sense of your own “basic powerlessness … to solve your or other people’s problems?” Do you attempt to “avoid that feeling” or try to “live through it?” What is the result?
  • In the press of a busy day, time spent sitting quietly before the Lord can seem “useless” or like “doing nothing.” Have you established a daily practice to keep from skipping such time so that you can more powerfully sense his love for you and your own limitations and needs?

Abba, I pray that the false urgency of my world would lose it’s grip on me as I linger in your presence. I pray that, more and more, I would sense your great love towards me. Help me to breathe in that love, and then exhale it out as my gift, and your gift, to my world.

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For More: The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Impossible Prayer (Thomas Merton)

“Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer has become impossible and your heart has turned to stone. If you have never had any distractions you don’t know how to pray. For the secret of prayer is a hunger for God and for the vision of God, a hunger that lies far deeper than the level of language or affection. And a man whose memory and imagination are persecuting him with a crowd of useless or even evil thoughts and images may sometimes be forced to pray far better, in the depths of his murdered heart, than one whose mind is swimming with clear concepts and brilliant purposes and easy acts of love.”  Thomas Merton

“How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Habakkuk 1:13-17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Merton’s words convey hope. He says that when we would otherwise probably quit in prayer (when our hearts have “turned to stone” or when our imagination is “persecuting us … with evil thoughts and images”) – that we should persist, and not only that, but that then we may “pray far better.”
  • Can you continue to pray when your heart feels dead?  … when your prayer is interrupted over and over again with sinful thoughts?
  • What do you suppose there is to be gained or learned by persisting in these times?  … and the danger in not persisting?

I love this prayer of Teresa of Avila in this regard:

“Let me not be afraid to linger here is your presence
with all my humanity exposed.
For you are God –
you are not surprised by my frailties, my continuous failures.”

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For More: Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Meditation (Andrew Bonar & Charles Spurgeon)

“By the grace of God and the strength of His Holy Spirit I desire to lay down the rule not to speak to man until I have spoken to God; not to do anything with my hand until I have been upon my knees; not to read letters or papers until I have read something of the Holy Scriptures.” Andrew Bonar

“With the earliest birds
I will make one more singer
in the great concert-hall of God. …
I will give my best time,
the first hour of the day
to the praise of my God.”
Charles H. Spurgeon


“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house
and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning.”  Psalm 143:8a

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When is your “best time” to attend to God and his Word? What would be the value in making this your first “conversation” of the day?
  • This is no doubt an area where to “fail to plan is to plan to fail.” Do you have a plan to make sure that you attend to God during your day?
  • I’ve found the ancient practice of the “Daily Office” very helpful in this regard. Here’s more about that.

Abba, the temptation to rush into my day, with all of its demands and stimulation, is strong. Help me to seek you first in stillness, silence and solitude so that I can “hear your lovingkindness” before I do anything else.

__________

For More: Diary and Life by Andrew Bonar

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)