Creating a check list?

On a plane recently I read a business article about the importance of pilot’s checklists to flying. The author asserted that we could learn from their use of checklists in our daily work life. What I took with me was this: Rhythm in daily life is important. This is as true to personal spiritual development as anything else.

I’ve been trying to urge personal spiritual development in fellow disciples for a long time. Recently, in conversations with leaders younger than I, they have asked: “So tell me what you do.” This (and a lecture I just heard*) has happened enough to cause me think it worth writing down.

We’re all different, and work in different ways. But, by sharing what has helped me, perhaps some adaptation of some part(s) of it will enrich your own spiritual development.

For a good long while now, in the morning, before all else [1], with coffee in hand, I have tried to practice the following, or some variation:

First, I sit in a familiar place and just read my Bible reading plan. [2] I’ve found that reading the Bible moves my soul into a place where I’m better prepared to meet my Father in heaven. These are his words, they are his prayer language.

Then, I go to a list of very familiar Bible texts (it’s a list I keep on my phone). These texts point me to the Lord’s greatness. These are particularly God focused verses chosen to point me to him. Here is my first verse of meditation that I slowly read to help me look to him: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬) There are numerous others that I collect and add to my list that point my focus to him.

I slow down. (Sometimes I sing or chant them.) This adoration / worship using Scripture begins to turn my focus to him. I’m beginning to adore him.

Then, I pray prayers of adoration using these same familiar texts. [3]

Now, I’m ready for a set prayer of confession. (I personally use an Anglican general prayer of confession.)

I follow this with a moment of silence.

Then, I recount with my Father some of what I am thankful for.

I pray for my family.

Then, I give My Father more glory by telling him of his greatness and wonder, contemplating his attributes.

Then, I pray for my friends and colleagues.

Finally I ask him to guide my thoughts and words through the day.

Every day is not the same. Some days my worship takes precedent. Others it’s confession. Another day the focus is on praying for some need that I’ve heard about. But, my variations come after I have focused on him through reading his word and worshiping my Father.

It’s like starting the engines in the correct sequence, pushing out from the gate, taxing to the runway and then taking off… this is on the take off checklist.

Then, once airborne, the focus of my time with my Father varies each day, because I’m with him, and he can carry me where he wishes, all day long.


* Tim Keller –

[1] Both Spurgeon and Mueller taught me to converse with my Father before any human, every day. Bob Alderman taught me not to read so much from man and more from the Bible. So I never read human writing in my time with God. (I do read human writing, just not in my dedicated time with my Father – I want no distractions.) Sometimes he will bring something from Lewis or someone to mind, by my focus is on him through his word. We ought not substitute even the greatest theologians or devotional writers for time in God’s word as we worship our Father.

[2] There are a million of them. I’ve follow M’Cheyne for years. There are many plans that are less intense that will help you get started.

[3] In the lecture mentioned above, Keller points out the importance of familiar texts. I need to be resonating with the Scripture, not trying to figure it out as we do with Bible Study. This is really important if you’re just learning the Bible and are often unsure about something you read. That investigation to figure stuff out is important to do, just not at this point in morning worship.

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