My ministry trainee has been asked by the DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordinands) to spend some time using the Anglican daily office in preparation for selection conference. He has also been asked to interview me about my devotional life. In the interview, last week, we discussed what motivates us to spend time each day in solitary devotion. Readers of this blog will know that I am a recovered (recovering) neonomian, someone who mixed grace and works as the basis for my acceptance before God. Being a neonomian meant my motives for my quiet time were also mixed.
You will know that you are a neonomian if you feel you must have a quiet time if you are motivated to have a quiet time in any one of these ways:
- if you don’t you are not doing what a Christian should do;
- if you don’t you are not showing God that you love him;
- you must keep up with everyone else who has a daily time with God;
- you need to spend time with God out of as sense of duty to him.
- If you don’t have a quiet time you feel guilty and despair at your lack of godliness.
The way I now view my personal devotion is now completely different. I want to have a quiet time because that is the time God feeds me. He is my shepherd and I am his sheep. His word is my sustenance and daily bread. If I don’t eat, I starve. I am poor and needy (Psalm 40:17) and he is my help and deliverer. I sit at his feet as he teaches me (Luke 10:41-42).
This view of my quiet time has changed what I do. In the past, I would study a passage then pray through a list of people in my life. I had done my duty in both reading and intercession.
Now I try to find ways to be fed. I read a theologically meaty devotional book. There are lots of extracts from my devotional reading on this blog (Thomas Watson’s exposition of the beatitudes, Charles Spurgeon on the Song of Songs and so on). I read the bible in a 5-year cycle using Murray McChene’s bible reading plan. The first year all the way through then the next four years one section at a time. I write a prayer fro the passage(s) I’ve read. I then meditate which is when God feeds me most. Meditation on God’s word leads me to deep joy, dependence, confession and repentance. I then end in intercession.
As for my ministry trainee, I hope that he is able to approach the daily office seeing that it has the potential for God to feed him rather than simply being a necessary task to tick a box for Church of England selectors. I also hope he finds lots of others ways to be fed.