I’m a writer, and I want to share something with you which I learned as a writer.
“But I’m not a writer” you may be saying, as your finger stretches toward the Delete button. Wait a minute! It’s something I learned as a writer but it is practical for any Christian.
All believers need to grow and develop in their spiritual lives. This doesn’t happen without effort; beside worshiping and interacting together with other believers, we need to study the Bible, read the spiritual insights of other Christians, and pray—disciplines which are often practiced privately.
No one decides on the weekend that he will be a surgeon, and goes to work on Monday operating on people. In the same way, when we began to follow Jesus, we did not immediately become mature, wise believers. That takes much learning and prayer, all of which take time.
The Time & Place
Even though I had many stories I wanted to write, I found that I could never find time to write them. Then I realized I could make time. Here’s how to make time to study, read and pray.
You don’t make the time by adding your Bible study to your To Do list because To Do lists don’t work. You need to schedule it. When I put my writing time into a daily schedule, at a set time, I began to write. You can do the same with Bible study.
And when you make time, you need to make a place as well. Productive writers and Bible students know that time and place tend to be connected. It has to do with what actors call body memory.
The Body Memory
Actors don’t just memorize and practice their lines in isolation. Everything they say and do is connected to what they said and did before—the actions they are performing, the direction they are facing, and their location on the stage. When I was on 25-city speaking tours, I would repeat the same 30-minute speech—word perfect, and move about the stage in exactly the same way each time. My body memory kept me on track with my words, and when I walked onto the stage, I started speaking instantly without hesitation.
The same is true for us Bible students. Once we have developed the habit of studying, reading and praying every day at a fixed time and in a fixed place, our body memory will start us instantly. We sit, we open the Bible and instantly start focused reading.
Making a time and setting a place will depend on each of our individual life circumstances. At a certain time, we go to a specific place—a room, a work station, a table in a corner, a chair, the back seat of a car—and after a few dozen times there, it becomes the place where we study. The moment we sit down and open our Bible, or devotional book, our minds and our bodies are ready for action.
I tend to get up an hour before my wife does. I make myself a fresh cup of coffee, take a handful of roasted almonds and sit in a recliner chair. While my laptop boots up, I eat a few almonds and have my first sips of coffee. Then I write my diary entry for the previous day, study some Scripture, and write a prayer after which I plan the day’s schedule and pray through it.
No matter when or where we study, read and pray regularly, one thing is sure: to make time we will need to sacrifice something else. I go to bed early, cutting back on leisure reading and television, so I can get up earlier to study and write.
When we plan a serious conversation with someone, we set a quiet, private place and time. I do the same thing when I converse with myself as a writer. And when we read God’s Word, and converse with Him in prayer, we need to follow the same pattern—set a distraction free time and place.
It’s the way He designed us to live, to work, and to learn.