Routines Becoming Routine

Related Devotional

From 12-6-09 Journal Entry

From Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson

“Spiritual growth is a conundrum. The key to spiritual growth is developing healthy and holy routines. We call them spiritual disciples. But once the routine becomes routine, we need to disrupt it. Why? Because sacred routines become empty rituals when we do them out of left brain memory instead of right brain imagination. Good routines become bad routines if we don’t change the routine. One of the greatest dangers we face spiritually is learning HOW and forgetting WHY. When we learn how and forget why, we start going through the motions spiritually. Study suggests people stop thinking about the lyrics of a song after singing it 30 times. When we worship out of memory, it must sound to God like a broken record. God doesn’t want to be lip-synced. He wants to be worshipped. Maybe that is why the Psalms exhort us no fewer than six times to sing a new song. We need new words, new postures, new thoughts and new feelings. Why? Because God wants to be more than a memory.”

Two areas come to mind when I read that again: Our quiet time and the Sunday morning meeting.

I first developed a spiritual routine in my late teens; it didn’t change much in content over the next 25 years; just in length. It was simple and fairly standard in the professing world; I would pray and read a few verses and that was it. In my worker years, it was always the same: You prayed on your knees most of the time and you read your KJV Bible and Hymns Old & New.  I did start journaling at some point in the Work but it wasn’t a part of my “quiet time” necessarily.

My current quiet time involves a good cup of coffee, a comfortable chair or propped up in bed, a Bible, several devotionals, a journal, perhaps a Christian non-fiction book I’m reading or a Bible study by one of my favorite authors I’m working on. I read, write, pray, think….over and over in no particular order; all with a warm puppy on my lap! It’s my favorite time of day and especially weekends when there is as much time as I need or want.

About a year or so I had to shake things up a bit, because quiet time had become too routine. So sometimes I play worship music while I am praying or writing or whatever. Maybe I’ll drive up the river to a favorite spot and take all my stuff with me (including the warm puppy).

I’m so thankful for ever evolving ideas and ways to spend my quiet time. For new spiritual disciplines. (I hesitate to use that word because it almost sounds like a “law” but it is meant to be a very positive and healthy thing.) I know a couple of very busy moms who pray in the shower or while they are walking or jogging. The challenge will always be to never get to the place where I am just going through the motions spiritually. When I have mastered how but forgotten why.

Sunday morning meeting is about as routine as they come. It’s always the same and that very fact is something the group is thankful for. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever and so the meetings, convention, special meetings and Wednesday night Bible studies must be also. Oh dear… NO! I truly believe many friends and workers are weary of nothing ever being new; or at least I hope they are. Is that partly why the meetings can’t last more than an hour because they’re impatient for it to be over? I wonder.

Then, what about that part of the quote that says once you’ve sung a song 30 times you stop thinking about the lyrics? And that God doesn’t want to be lip-synced? I feel now that was a very real reality for me with the Hymns Old and New hymns.  It can also happen with any current song that I’ve listened to over and over again. The hymnbooks are updated once every 50 years? Sing a new song unto the Lord! Of course, I love the old hymns for the most part, but aren’t song writers constantly being inspired by God to write new songs?

I’m not willing to shake everything up because parts of my routine I love. But I want to be challenged and I’ve much yet to learn. Unsettle me Lord when and where I need to be.

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2 thoughts on “Routines Becoming Routine

  1. In the physical realm, change is the only constant. It is uncomfortable to some yet others thrive on it. It is difficult for me and has been very painful at times. The Lord has been with me through it all and given me the strength and courage to face the things I feared. As a result of this, my relationship with Him is constantly changing! I am grateful that I see Him, talk to Him, and have faith in Him like never before. That change keeps my soul refreshed and the relationship ever new and exciting.

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    • I just now read something that I want to add to this post: James makes it clear that our prayer needs to be “fervent” and “effective” (James 5:16). God is not into ritual but reality. He wants us to avoid formulaic prayers in exchange for a persistent passion. (From Strength for the Journey by Joe Stowell) He says it much better than I did!

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