I used to spend most of my time reading the New Testament because it's so easily applicable. I practically have all of Romans thru 1 John underlined because so many of those verses speak to me in their various ways. They are excellent reminders, powerful encouragements, direct guidance and truths, and easy to find when I need to recall them. But the fact was that I would read these verses with the attitude of "needing to get better at ______" (patience, gentleness, forgiveness, godliness, etc). And I spent little time PRAYING, that was always my weakness. And I was failing, frustratingly so, at the more patience thing, and everything else.
So in reality, I was spending all this Bible time with myself, and not directly with God Himself.
I think His Word is amazing, all the answers are right there. The values and what godliness looks like, what Christ looks like, the stories of how God works and who He IS, and how we can show all this to our neighbors. It's all amazing.
But as of late, I've been spending time specifically in Psalms. Actually praying. And primarily meditating on GOD'S character, not my character. And ya know what I'm finding? The more I look at God and who HE IS and His goodness and faithfulness and love and redemption, the easier it is (for me anyway) to have a full heart. Simply put, the more I fill myself with HIM, the more I can display His fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) All the very things I was trying to "get better at". I always knew that these are the fruits of the Spirit and not of me, but I guess I never really realized that I wasn't actually spending time with HIM. I wasn't praying or looking to God, I was only reflecting on what God WANTS. And failing because I was, without realizing it, depending upon myself and my own attitudes. I'm still not perfect, I still flip out, but overall I finally feel like I'm getting a grip. But mostly I'm finally feeling like I'm getting to know God and growing to be more like Him. After all, isn't that our continual life journey?
So. All that said, I thought I would explain a little bit what I mean each week when I say in "Monday Meanderings" that I'm praying through the Psalms following the A.C.T.S format. So here it is:
The A.C.T.S. format is praying Adoration (praise), Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (requests), and in that order. It takes a chunk of time, and several pages in my journal, to do this thoroughly but it is sooo fulfilling and an amazing start to my day. Like I said before, I've never been good at prayer. So for me, it's helpful to pray the scriptures, to find verses that apply to each element. I used to hop all over the Psalms finding a scripture for each part, but now I'm trying to move through the Psalms in order each day and find appropriate scriptures all from the same chapter or neighboring chapters, and then moving on the next day to the next couple chapters in Psalms. So here's an example from yesterday:
ADORATION -- Psalm 138:6-8
"Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever--do not abandon the work of your hands."
>>Truths from this passage:
* Though the Lord is on high, He looks on me.
* God will preserve my life in troubles.
* God has a purpose for me and will fulfill it.
* God loves me. Forever.
CONFESSION -- Psalm 139:23-24
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
>>You know my heart and my intentions. Forgive me for my sin. Search me and mold me in the areas that need work. Call attention to my sin and weaknesses. And make me more like You every day.
THANKSGIVING -- Psalm 139:14
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
(and then I write a thankful list for the day) * uplifting Bible verses * opportunities to set an example in the hard parts of life * opportunities to still grow and be challenged * walking days with friends * rain * yummy farm eggs * eternal healing for a friend's dad * being a SAHM and not living a hurried, stressful life * Eli's interest in Boxcar books * not having a leaky dishwasher in awhile . . .
SUPPLICATION -- Psalm 138:3
"When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted."
(and then I write down various prayer requests-- specifics requests and general according to category)
* kids (sometimes whole pages of general requests and sometimes individually per child)
* pregnant friends...
* struggling friends...
* missionary friends...
So there ya have it. My prayer routine I've been trying out. Now, studying the Bible doesn't stop there. I've been moved in many ways lately and actually want to start dissecting the Gospels. But the Psalms are a great place to meet and spend time with God Himself.
"Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul."