Click below to listen to this post about being a spiritual self-feeder on the Candidly Kendra podcast:
Steve and I had the adventure of living in Barcelona for four years. What a beautiful place!
The architecture is unbeatable. The coffee was amazing. The pastries make my heart ache (even still!)!
We made great friends. We had a comfortable home.
But one thing was missing. Though we attended church faithfully the whole time we lived in Barcelona, and made many great friends, we never felt quite at home in church.
It probably had something to do with our feeble grasp of the local language, Catalan. Though we could communicate with individuals in Spanish, sermons were always preached in Catalan. As we strained to recognize words in that unfamiliar language our minds inevitably wandered.
And that is when God taught us to be self-feeders of his Word.
We began a practice of keeping the Sabbath on Mondays, taking a “Half Day with the Lord” to spend time with him, studying, praying, listening, learning, and growing in His Word. What a beautiful gift those Mondays became to us!
Four Tips For Your Season of Self-Feeding
1. Keep Going To Church
If God has you in a season where the church isn’t your main resource for spiritual growth, don’t give up. Trust his command to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). Attend faithfully and be a light to the church community through your friendship and service. Maybe God will surprise you.
After living in Barcelona for four years, God used the prayers of one of the young women in the church to greatly encourage me in a difficult time. When I look back at our time in Spain, I remember that there was a community of believers there, living as lights in the darkness of a secular city, praying over it, not giving up.
2. Find Your Delight
When we had our “Half Day with the Lord” on Mondays in Barcelona, we each had a favorite way to spend the day. Steve would take a long commute to Dunkin Donuts (yep – the same one), and sit with his coffee and donuts. He loved to listen to sermons (probably Tim Keller) and take meticulous notes. On the other hand, I stayed in our beautiful neighborhood. I went to my own favorite local cafe, ordered a pastry and coffee (like the ones pictured above…my mouth is watering with the memory), and spent hours journalling and studying the Bible. Others sat by the beach or listened to their favorite worship music.
We each had our own ways to self-feed with God’s Word. No one way was best. What was best is that we connected with God according to our own interests.
What would you do with a “Day with the Lord”?
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3. Open Your Bible
To be a self-feeder, the most important thing you can do is to read the Bible. Don’t fall into the temptation to make your time with God all about your words and needs.
Open the Bible and let God show you who he is. Let him show you how you fit into the bigger picture. You’ll be so encouraged to see his heart for you and his greater plan for your life!
There are many ways to do this. Here are a few I suggest:
- Follow a daily Bible reading plan (such as The Daily Audio Bible podcast)
- Do a Bible Word Study (One time I tried to explain how you can do this. Check it out here.)
- Pray through the Psalms. (Open to the Psalms. Read it, but read it as a prayer to God.)
- Read it like a book. (Pick a narrative book and read it through the way you would read a regular book. See the bigger picture of how the stories tie together.)
- Try a “concept study.” (Read through the new testament, taking note of all the names Jesus calls himself, or all the times Jesus interacts with women, or all of the parable teachings, for example.)
- Work on memorization. (You can start here.)
Do you see something new you’d like to try?
4. Practice the Presence of God
I highly recommend the paradigm-shifting book The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. In this book, Brother Lawrence explains how he used the otherwise brainless time he spent doing menial work to connect with God deeply.
As a humble cook, Brother Lawrence learned an important lesson through each daily chore: The time he spent in communion with the Lord should be the same, whether he was bustling around in the kitchen—with several people asking questions at the same time—or on his knees in prayer. He learned to cultivate the deep presence of God so thoroughly in his own heart that he was able to joyfully exclaim, “I am doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart.”
(from the back cover of The Practice of the Presence of God)
Do you ever do mundane tasks? Are you stuck in the car at the school pick-up line? Waiting for baseball practice to end? Doing dishes? Folding laundry?
All day long we walk through mundane tasks. This is an ideal time to tune your heart to God’s. Talk to him about your day, practice those memory verses, or pray breath prayers (inhale and say a name of God – “Emmanuel”; exhale and pray – “help me trust.” Change the words according to your own needs.)
How can you connect with God in the mundane?
Not Just a Season
What if self-feeding becomes a cherished habit? What if it is something that you look forward to?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these times with God aren’t just a resouce that you turn to in a difficult season, but an essential resource for your walk with God all the time?
In fact, what if that dry season was God’s way of getting you to this place of self-feeding all along?
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