I love a good movie! And I must say The Lord of the Rings movies are my hands down favorites! There’s something about the desperation in the middle, when all seems lost and there seems to be no hope of good ever happening again that I can so relate to. You see, I live my life in the middle of the story.
But then Gandalf arrives, or Sam shows up or even Gollum hurtles back into the picture and my heart is encouraged to press on. In the midst of this broken and fallen world, I so need the perspective a good story can bring reminding me the end is coming and it will be good.
That’s also why I need XTAWGs (aka extended times with the Lord!). When Jim and I were first starting out we sought to do these once a month. But the longer I walk with Jesus the more I need extended time sitting at his feet, focusing on who He is, taking time to let His Word dwell in me richly… to give me His perspective in the middle of my story!
The more intense life is, the more I desperately need this! I now seek to enjoy such time weekly. What a difference it makes in helping me press on in following Jesus!
So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways of enjoying an XTAWG!
1. When I first started doing this, I began with Lorne Sanny’s article How To Spend A Day In Prayer.* In addition to explaining the value of doing this, this is a great guide for getting you started! You can literally go through the article step by step and use that to structure and experience an incredible XTAWG! We usually give this out to people when they are doing this for the first time, along with the circles that come at the back of Roger and Jean Fleming’s book Feeding Your Soul – I can’t recommend their book highly enough!!!**
2. What I most use now is Prof. Richard Horner’s Bible Reading Plan*** only instead of daily I use it weekly, reading from ten chapters – one from each of his lists – during my XTAWG. I find it is so helpful to have a set plan for what I’ll do each week, so I hop on my bike, asking the Lord to lead on our “date” and then stop, read one chapter, draw a small picture that summarizes the key thing that stood out to me as I read, then hop back on my bike until the Lord prompts me to stop again and I dive into the next chapter… It’s amazing to me how the different readings will relate and often a theme will emerge during my time with the Lord. (and yes I often end up at different cafes along the way! ;0) You can see an example of this here: http://restfulheart.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/come/ If you’d like a copy of what I’ve taped in the front of my Bible to keep track of where I’m at from week to week email me at jadseekhim@Msn.com and I’ll be glad to send it to you. :0)
3. Once a month I love to spend my XTAWG at an art gallery or art museum. Before I go in I pray and ask the Lord to lead me to one piece of art He wants me focusing on and then ask Him to give me ears to hear whatever He wants to say to me through this. As soon as something stands out to me, I stop there and begin drawing it – I find I notice so much more when I slow down and do this and then I take out my journal and start dialoging with the Lord regarding what I’ve noticed. These have been some of my most life changing times experiencing Him and hearing from Him. You can find two examples of this at: http://restfulheart.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/lord-please-save-me-from-ideas-that-are-not-yours/ and http://restfulheart.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/despondency-or-delight/
4. For those who are here in Colorado or if you ever come out here to visit – another favorite way to enjoy an XTAWG takes place at The Potter’s Inn in Divide, Colorado.**** They have a prayer walk on their 35 acres and a booklet you can purchase for $1 that will provide you with some amazing extended time with the Lord!!! (imagine reading about Moses in the cleft of the rock as you’re actually sandwiched in one!!!) I’ve done this three times and still look forward to the next time I get to do it!
Now you don’t have to bike. And you don’t have to draw! And you don’t have to go to art museums or on adventures discovering new special spots or come to Colorado or hang out at local cafes! These are just things I really enjoy!
But isn’t that the point? Make a list of what you really enjoy, a list of your favorite things, and seek to incorporate those into your extended times with God! Think of it as a date with God! When someone plans to take you on a date, if they are wise they take into consideration what you enjoy doing! And is the Lord ever wise!!!
You see, when I first got married, my husband and I were encouraged to spend time every day interacting, even if just briefly, and then to take time weekly going on a date where we could enjoy uninterrupted focused time together. What a difference those dates have made in our marriage!
This is also true for my relationship with the Lord! I have my daily quiet time – which truly is the most important 15 minutes of my day, but then these weekly dates are taking me so much deeper in my relationship with Him! And when you’re feeling very much in the middle of the story, wondering how any good can come of all that’s happening, is this ever especially needed!
So this is by no means an exhaustive list! Just a few of my favorite ways to enjoy an XTAWG while doing some of my favorite things! :0) If you have ideas for what you enjoy doing as you spend extended time with the Lord would I ever love to hear them!
* How To Spend A Day In Prayer by Lorne Sanny: http://www.cmfhq.org/Portals/0/acrobat/training/Day%20Alone%20with%20God.pdf )
**Feeding Your Soul by Roger and Jean Fleming: http://www.amazon.com/Feeding-Your-Soul-Quiet-Handbook/dp/1576831442 (note: If you go to Amazon.com and on the webpage for this book click to “look inside” this book and type “How to Spend A Half-day in Prayer” in the search box and scroll down to pages 140-142 you can see their circles for breaking down how to spend each hour for three hours with the Lord! I have found this to be of incredible help!!!)
***Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan: http://www.challies.com/sites/all/files/attachments/professor-grant-horners-bible-reading-system.pdf
**** The Potter’s Inn website: http://pottersinn.com/