Have you ever heard any of these pithy proverbs: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” (Benjamin Franklin). “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” (Abraham Lincoln). “All things are ready, if our mind be so.” (William Shakespeare)
Common sense dictates that the success of any initiative is heavily dependent on the extent of preparation done in advance. And yet, how often do we find ourselves just jumping into something without proper planning or preparation?
We’re too impatient. We just want to get stuck-in and get it done, right?
If only ‘common sense’ was more common….
Imagine if the NASA mission to land on the moon hadn’t been planned properly. Or, what if you were asked to meet with the Prime Minister to talk about the future of the country. Would you not thoroughly prepare before the meeting? Or, would you just walk in ‘cold’ and see what comes to mind in the moment?
World class athletes and performers attribute much of their success to the state of their mind going into their event. If what we’re about to do is important enough to do, then it’s important enough to do properly, and being prepared mentally and emotionally for the task at hand is a key part of our success.
We need to avoid the tendency to treat our time with God as just another item on our ‘To Do’ list. We need to avoid the tendency to treat our time with God as just another item on our ‘To Do’ list – something to be conquered as efficiently as possible so we can move on with our busy day! Whenever we seek an audience with the Creator of the Universe in our daily Quiet Time, we need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to hear what He has to say.
Over the years I’ve found the need to spend more time preparing myself for my daily time with God. The distractions of life are increasing exponentially, filling my mind with ‘noise’ making it more and more difficult to calm my mind and focus on what really matters.
A simple technique that I use to prepare myself for time with my Heavenly Father each day is to meditate on a few key passages from the Bible. It has become a fun activity to collect meaningful passages over the years that resonate in my heart – a bit like a treasure hunt. I simply highlight them or write them down for future reference. Then, as I enter into God’s presence (cf. Heb. 4:16), I pick one or two passages to meditate on in preparation. I combine this with some slow, deep breathing and try to imagine all my troubles and burdens falling away at the foot of the cross. Then, and only then, am I ready to meet with God (cf. Isa. 6:1-7).
Below are a few such passages that I have found helpful to prepare my heart and mind for time with the Lord each day. Take a few minutes to read each passage slowly and thoughtfully. I hope you find them helpful. Perhaps you can start filling your own ‘treasure chest’ with precious gems from God’s Word. The Psalms are a great place to start!
"Be still, and know that I am God!" (Psa. 46:10a) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” ( Psa. 51:10) (Psa. 131:1-2) “O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.“ “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psa. 139:23-24) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psa. 19:14) “Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:11b-12) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-9) “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:1-4) “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13) “Speak, your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3:10b)