How to use disaster service time to develop as a follower of Jesus
By Patrick Lyons, Captain –
“O, Begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises… Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days… Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer.” –John Wesley
If you are like me, you wondered what the meaning of trifler was. Put simply, a trifler is a person who never advances, matures or develops. One dictionary says it may be a person who mocks those who do seek to improve.
John Wesley is giving an early definition of the modern phrase “spiritual formation.” Gerald May defines spiritual formation as “attempts…and disciplines intended towards deepening of faith and furtherance of spiritual growth.”
Disaster service is difficult work, but it is a good time to develop as a follower of Jesus. With that in mind, here are some disciplines you can include in your day:
Carry Scripture with you. Write a verse on a slip of paper, put in your pocket, and read it throughout the day with the goal of memorizing it. Repeat it as much as you can without looking at it and put it to memory. Take it to the next level by memorizing a Psalm, one verse at a time. I recommend Psalm 8 as a good start. Here are some other verses: Psalm 3:3 is a fantastic one for those who feel a little beat up. Try John 3:30 to encourage yourself to continue with spiritual growth. Isaiah 26:3 is good for when you need to keep moving forward.
Begin an hourly prayer watch. At a certain minute on the hour, stop what you are doing and devote one minute to prayer. Combine this with a debrief and give God a takeaway from the previous hour. It might be a frustration and it might be a wonderful praise; either way, you have taken it to him.
Reflect on your learnings. Use a devotional each day and take time during moments where you are involved in prolonged activity to consider that devotion. Ask God to reveal any areas in your life that this devotion might apply to you.
Pray for people continuously. When you have a conversation with someone, take a brief moment to pray for the individual or the issue after the conversation is over. Just a sentence will do. If you have a meeting, say a quick prayer for the people who were in it. Maybe write some highlights from the meeting and take a few moments to pray about them afterwards. If you are distributing items, pray briefly for the people you just served. This is an amazing exercise because so much of our stress is internal—how we respond to things. By incorporating continuous prayer, we are focusing our attention on our father in Heaven and the people he has called us to serve.
Here is a prayer from Stormie Omartian: Lord, just as you appeared to Saul and blinded him in order to get his attention and do a miraculous turnaround in his life, I know you have sometimes allowed me to get to a dark place in my own life where I cannot see without your help. At those times, help me to do as Saul did and pray fervently, so that my spiritual sight can be restored and your will be done. Amen.
May the Lord bless and keep you.