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Effective Time with God

IMPORTANT NOTE: 
These are merely my personal notes during a 2002 Promise Keeper’s conference.  The below material is the best description on how to have daily time with God that I’ve ever heard.

The speaker was Buddy Owens – See Below:

Quick Profile: 
Buddy Owens
Maranatha! Music
205 Avenida Fabricante
San Clemente, CA 92672

  • Vice President of Book Publishing for Maranatha! Music
  • Sr. Editor for the NIV Personal Worship Bible
  • National seminar teacher on worship
  • Producer/songwriter/vocal performer on more than 100 projects including the Maranatha! Praise series and all PK releases since 1993
  • Songwriter of PK theme songs including Face to Face, Reconciliation Song, and Rise Up O Men of God.

MESSAGE NOTES

  1. Want to energize your relationship with God?
  2. Want to find out how to build your faith?
  3. Want to learn how to resist temptation?
  4. Want to change your thought life?
  5. Want to know that God is really present in your life – not just in theory – but in a LIVING, BREATHING, PRESENT CERTAINTY?
  6. Want to be a different person?

Have you ever said any of the following statements:

  • Can I really do this?
  • Can I really be a man of God’s word?
  • Can I really be a man of prayer?

The frustration we’ve had is in living this out.  We have great intentions.

Buddy Owen’s Experience:

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

“I’d make the commitment – I’d get up an hour before the family would get up, before the sunrise – stub my toe on the coffee table.  I’d get on my knees at the couch.  Then I’d go through a laundry list of prayer topics, trying to remember how to pray for missionaries overseas.”

“I’d pray for neighbors, missionaries, people, and I’d look at my watch and I’ve only been there for five minutes!  I’ve got a whole hour to go!  And I’ve got to pray for an hour?”

“So I’d pray with more ‘fervency’, and more ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth… I was struggling not to fall asleep – then I’d try to keep my thoughts together and keep my mind from wandering – it was like trying to herd cats.”

And after a few weeks of this – I began wondering ‘I don’t know if I can make this happen‘.  You know, you’re just EVERYWHERE!  But this is what I’m supposed to do?  I realized now that at the time I was just setting myself up for failure.  I was trying to run a marathon without ever having been around the block one time – it was just not going to happen!”

“I was trying to run a marathon without ever having been around the block one time – it was just not going to happen!”

“As far as my Bible reading goes – I remember being told ‘You have to read through the Bible in a year’  So I made a commitment to read through the Bible in a year “Okay, I’m going to read from Genesis to Maps”.

“So I’m starting in Genesis – and only have so much time – and I’m skimming along, and I’m reading fast.  Then there were the ‘begats’. So and so begat so and so… So and so begat so and so…”

“I got started late – I fell asleep because I was trying to pray for an hour.  So – I’ll make up the time tomorrow.  I put the kids to bed and then there’s a late football game on.”  Now I’ve got double to read!”

“They say you can recognize the Bible of a godly man because of the tear stains on the pages – my Bible had drool stains on the pages.” (laughter at the conference)

“After a while – this is what happened:  This book sat on my nightstand and it scolded me for being such a failure.  It morphed from being a source of comfort/direction into an object of guilt.”

“This book sat on my nightstand and it scolded me for being such a failure.  It morphed from being a source of comfort/direction into an object of guilt”

(My notes here are unclear – but Buddy Owens indicated that he felt defeated, and was disheartened.)

“So whose idea was it that we have to read through the Bible through a year? What kind of guy can read through the Bible in a year?  Buddy now relates a story of his father.  He said his father reads through the Bible every year.

He said his father is a little too much on the disciplined side.  His father took a diet too seriously and drank 8 twelve ounces of water a day.  His father got up, went to the sink and DRANK 8 twelve ounces of water a year.

Buddy continues:
“Now that’s the kind of guy that can read through the Bible in a year.  I’m not that kind of guy – I don’t have the plumbing for it!”    (Laughter at the conference)

“How many of you made the commitment to pray for an hour, or to read through the Bible in a year?” (HANDS WENT UP ALL THROUGH THE AUDITORIUM)  How many of you failed?”

“How many of you have ever made the commitment to pray through
the Bible in a year, or to pray an hour a day?  How many of you failed?

Stop torturing yourself!”

“Guys you are not alone – STOP TORTURING YOURSELF!”  This isn’t a secret that we have too keep buried.”

“There’s a better, deeper and more personal way – A BETTER APPROACH THAT IS RELATIONAL”  CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER with scripture.”

“It took me years to realize that Bible reading and prayer were made to go hand-in-hand.”

“Reading and prayer are not two separate activities.”

  • It took me years to realize that Bible reading and prayer were made to go hand-in-hand. 
  • Both I and God should be on the same subject.

  • The prayer should be personal.

  • Reading and Prayer – two parts of a conversation

  • Better if both people are talking about the same subject.

  • I should let God start the conversation.

  • I should see what’s on God’s mind (scripture)  

How do I do this?

  • Instead of praying for one hour – start in Scripture.

  • KEY CRITICAL POINT – READ FOR DEPTH, NOT FOR DISTANCE

You may ask ‘How do I do this?’

Read for depth, NOT for distance!”

The crucial difference between depth and difference:

  • READING FOR DISTANCE:  Take a tea bag – and dip it in the water ONCE. What happens? NOTHING!  No change to the water!

  • READING FOR DEPTH:  Take a tea bag – and let it sit in a clear glass of water for 1/2 an hour.

  •       What happens? THE WATER CHANGES IT’S IDENTITY:

    • The water is no longer called “a glass of water”,it is now called “a glass of tea”

    • The tea is now integrated and fully part of the water.

    • “THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEPTH AND DISTANCE – READ FOR DEPTH!!!”

How to read for depth:

  • Take a spiritual drive in the country.

  1. “Fill my tank” (This is an analogy – not speaking of automobiles) (No, not fill my car with gasoline, but invite God to fill me – before coming to God’s word – invite God to fill me with His Holy Spirit in a fresh way so I can understand the scripture I’m about to read.

(It is only the Holy Spirit within me that helps me to understand God’s word)

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  1 Corinthians 2:14

“Father, thank you for today, please help me to hear you.  I’m asking you Lord, please send your Holy Spirit to fill my heart today.  Lord, I ask that you will forgive me of all my sins through Jesus Christ.  Let me see and understand what you would like me to see in your word today.
I’m asking this in Jesus’ name, Amen”

God is not really impressed with eloquent fancy prayers, but he’s looking for honesty in prayer.

  2. “Choose the road”

(This is an analogy – not speaking of automobiles)

  • It may be a favorite road I’ve been on before.
  • It may be a road I’ve never been on before
  • It may be a road I was at yesterday or the day before because there was so much to see.
  • The Bible is a collection of 66 Books.  You don’t   have to begin at the very beginning and go all the way to   the very end – all in order.
  • You might want to begin starting with Matthew and go through the New Testament.  Perhaps with Galatians or Ephesians
  • Or perhaps begin where your pastor taught last week
  • (They chose the book of Colossians chapter 3 at the Promise Keeper’s conference)

Slow down! 

Guys, this is not a race, it is an exploration.
Read for DEPTH, not for distance!

  3. “Slow down – take in the scenery!”   Read for DEPTH, not distance!

(This is an analogy – not speaking of automobiles)

This is not a race – take in the scenery.

  • You don’t have to cover a certain amount of material in a certain amount of time.

  • What does the place look like?▪  What does it sound like?▪  Who is the audience (speaking to a group, a person)?▪  What is going on in the verses before and after (the surroundings, the scenery).▪  Read it as a personal letter from a person who loves you.

  • READ SLOWLY – explore it!

  • BREAK THE RULES – MOVE YOUR LIPS, you may even want to read it out loud!

  4. “When you drive – pull over for scenic viewpoints”

     (This is an analogy – not speaking of automobiles)

  • Take a good long look around.

  • Imagine yourself in the scene – see what was so beautiful – that they placed a sign to tell you to pull over

  • At the Promise Keeper’s conference they looked at Colossians 3:16

Scenic Viewpoint

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  Colossians 3:16

Pulling over for a scenic viewpoint

  • “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”

(I have a role to play – the word of Christ is waiting for me to play my role – with making my time, my mind, my heart available)

  • “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”

(this is not a quick visit – let it move in and take residence, print out the verse and carry it with me through the day)

  • “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

(Richly, and not poorly – like the tea bag that dwells in the water richly – it takes time to make tea.)

  • It’s SLOWING DOWN and putting things in my words and praying back to the Lord what I’m seeing.

  • Don’t speed-listen – it’s like a conversation I might have with a loved-one.  Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you try to speed-listen?

  • When we speed listen – someone’s going to get hurt.  It’s like driving too fast.

“Don’t speed-listen with God. Say back to God what you’re seeing on the page”

  • So from this passage – we could pray back to the Lord

“So what I hear you saying Lord, you want me to open my heart so that your word can move into me in a deep and rich way.”

  5. “Take a picture of myself”

(This is an analogy – not speaking of automobiles, or taking a journey)

  • A reminder of where you were.

  • It is like standing in front of a mirror.

  • Does everything look all right in the mirror?

  • How do I look in this light?

  • Come before the text and examine myself in front of the mirror of scripture.

  • What things about my character have I hidden away and need to come into the light?

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.   But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25

  6.  “Send a postcard home”

(This is an analogy – not speaking of automobiles, or taking a journey)

  • This is my prayer – this is where my reading and thinking turns into real prayer.

  • Talk with God about what he’s been saying to me as I visited that place.

  • Tell God what I’ve been feeling.

  • Tell God what I’ve been hearing through this passage(s).

  • Talk with God about what I’ve seen.

  • Tell God where I’ve been – what scriptural scenery I’ve seen.

  • Sometimes my prayer is a prayer of gratitude.

  • Sometimes it’s a prayer of confession.

  • It might just be a sung prayer of worship or praise.

  • Then I drive on to the next scenic viewpoint – it might be the next verse, chapter, cross-reference.  (Use the above six points)

  • As I do this, I begin to absorb the nature and character of God’s Word.

  • It’s like the teabag – it steeps in water for 1/2 an hour and the water is no longer called a glass of water – but a glass of tea!

  • Being a Christian – is being like Christ.  Absorbing the character of Christ.

  • Buddy Owens said that his life really changed.

    • He said he struggles FAR less with temptation (he’s not over it – but it’s gotten a whole lot better)

    • He’s replaced old thought patterns with new ones.

    • His children noticed that he became more patient than he used to be.

    • His passions became godly passions.

    • He began to see circumstances through the lens of scripture.

    • His motivations changed.

  • The last thing that changed – he noticed he began having conversational prayer and scripture with God – his spiritual life changed.

    • His times with God became wonderful – everyday memories.

    • The time alone with God became something far more enjoyable.

    • The time with God started growing into a friendship with God instead of a compulsion of mere duty.

  • “God wants us to know him through faith – too many Christians focus on doing instead of being – we should focus on our faith – building our faith in God instead of mere doing our Christian.  If we focus on our faith – the doing becomes naturally.”