Monday, 9 May 2011

Oh, For A Closer Walk

Over at the Proclamation Trust Adrian Reynolds has written a very helpful post on maintaining a close walk with Christ. He has written this with preachers in mind, but what he has to say is equally valuable for every Christian to listen to.

1 Timothy 4:16 shows the vital importance of the preacher cultivating a close walk with Christ. If he is not doing so with prayer and the study of the word, then how can he save himself and his hearers.

Reynolds says that ultimately there is only one answer to the struggles we have with maintaining a close walk with Christ. It is this: a deep hunger and thirst for Christ. This is what we need to be crying out to God for. However, there are also many practical things that we can be doing, as we cry out to God for this hunger and thirst, that will help serve us walking closely with God. He mentions 10 practical things that he has found helpful:
1) Read the Bible for your own soul first. Even it eats into prep time don't think that studying to preach is enough to feed your own soul.

2) Read and pray with a pen in your hand - both to capture thoughts and jot down distractions to be dealt with later. I write myself a prayer every day based on what I have read.

3) Use Bible helps judiciously. You're a pastor for goodness sake - don't get caught into the "I can only read the Bible with a commentary" trap

4) Nothing beats an early morning. I learnt this reading chapter 20 of Book 3 of the Institutes [Calvin's Institutes] which is some of the warmest stuff I have ever read on prayer. Google it.

5) Pray for your people deliberately and by name. Better to pray for one or two well than 5 in a bland way. Don't focus on felt needs, pray in what you are reading for your people. Pray that what you are learning they will learn and tell them about it next time you see them.

6) Tear up your prayer diary every few months. I find routine is a life-killer, so I have to tear up my routine and refresh it regularly.

7) Singing to yourself is not a sign of madness. I sit in the morning with an open hymn book and take one a day (which, by the way, opens my eyes to some beautiful and lovely words from the past)

8) Develop prayer as an attitude not a diary slot. We all know it. Practice it. A few minutes here and there. A cry when you reach a really knotty part of Scripture you're struggling to prepare.

9) Don't be afraid to use helps in dry times. I find Valley of Vision a real help when I struggle to pray (I use the leather version, not much more, nicely laid out and it doens't fall apart with use).

10) Cry out with honesty for your lack of thirst. Admit your sin. Repent of it. Use the psalms to align yourself with Christ once again.
You can read the whole of the article here.