Soul Exercises Revisited!
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 12:03PM
David McElrath

As we close in on the year, I find myself reflecting back on the “Great Questions from the Bible” that have given shape to my preaching this year. While I’ve received lots of positive feedback on the series, I want to make sure we haven’t lost focus on our primary goal of becoming better apprentices of Jesus.  I like the word “apprentice” because it speaks to a relationship with a “Master.” For an apprentice to commit to a “Master,” an express intentionality is assumed. I want to be an apprentice to Jesus. I want my life to reflect the qualities I see in Jesus as I study the four Gospels. Jesus was never in a hurry; He always had time for others. Jesus was kind, thoughtful, and intentional in His relationships. I strive for such qualities. I freely admit, I am a work in progress. But as I said to someone recently, the best piano player in the world started by plunking a finger on a single key.

 

So what “key” do I find myself plunking these days?

 

Awhile back, I posted 15 “soul exercises” to encourage folk. Here they are, if you missed them:

  1. I will be still before God for 5 minutes a day
  2. I will begin each day by counting five blessings  
  3. I will read Scripture intentionally
  4. I will pray through Psalm 23 regularly
  5. I will pray for an enemy
  6. I will unplug occasionally (live a day without screens)
  7. I will slow down (ruthlessly eliminate hurry)
  8. I will remember to Play (keeping the Sabbath)
  9. I will reach out to someone beyond my comfort zone
  10. I will do something kind for someone who doesn’t like me
  11. I will share my faith with someone
  12. I will refuse to gossip
  13. I will be generous
  14. I will practice forgiveness
  15. I will trust God for all outcomes and stop worrying

 

I thought I’d review each exercise in the weeks and months ahead starting with the first one: I will be still before God for 5 minutes a day.

 

It sounds like an easy exercise unless you’re like me, a extrovert with A.D.D. tendencies. Being “still” is challenging for me.  What I have started doing is engaging in this exercise before I eat breakfast each morning. I sit quietly, acknowledge God’s presence, and pray for four things: Lord, help be draw closer to you; help me draw closer to my wife; help me be more effective for Your Kingdom; please let people see Jesus in me.  After I pray those four things, I simply ask, “How can I do that today?” Then I stop and listen. I listen for as long as I can or until my mind starts to wander. Sometimes God nudges me in a particular direction. Sometimes I get nothing. (Except a few minutes of being still before God!) At that point, I say “Thank you, Lord,” and I eat my breakfast! I find it is a great way to start my morning, being intentional in my “apprenticeship with Jesus.”

 

I hope this encourages you to review the exercises above, pick one and start “plunking!”

Article originally appeared on Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church | To Know Christ and Make Christ Known | (http://gmpc.org/).
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