Many missionaries struggle with having a daily time alone with God. But we are busy, there are so many needs around us, just daily living takes so much more time, and we find find our time with God is being pushed aside. That may surprise you, but we're really just like every other Christian, be they missionary or not. Coming to the edge of the desert didn't suddenly make us more spiritual, though there are days that certainly drive us to our knees!
In our recent orientation for new missionaries, the lady who led one of the groups brought in three other people in addition to herself to share how they do their daily devotional time. They all varied in their age, gender, marital status, and number of years on the field. I felt like they each had something valuable to share and that everybody could gain from their experiences. So here we are:
MISSIONARY #1: Female, married, mother to adult and young adult children, in her 1st term here, works full time. This person cannot stand to sit still and must be busy all the time. So for her it is most beneficial to:
1. Read her Bible while working out on the eliptical
2. Pray while walking
3. Study the Bible in a different language which sometimes adds a depth of meaning to a phrase or verse
4. While working, listens to praise and worship music.
MISSIONARY #2: Female, married, mother to four very young children, in her 2nd term here, works full time at home.
1. For awhile, her husband took the kids for an hour so she could have some time to herself.
2. Listens to sermons from her church back home. This can be done while washing dishes or cooking meals.
3. Skype with a pastor; provides mentoring and encouragement
4. Appreciate times of corporate worship. Don't just stay home because church is long or difficult. Take turns with your spouse taking the kids out.
5. Listens to an audio Bible; goes through it in a year.
6. Use this time to nurture your kids spiritually, especially if you live where they don't have a Sunday School or youth group.
7. Guard the Sabbath.
8. Get help when you need it.
9. Set goals. Even if you don't reach them, you are aiming for something.
MISSIONARY #3: Female, single, has spent at least 20 years here; likes to contemplate things and take her time; is an early riser
1. Gets up early before people start knocking on the door.
2. Has learned to not get upset by interruptions. They happen and may be appointments from God.
3. Devotionals are good, but don't read them only. Make sure you are also spending time in the Word.
4. Take time to meditate. Following a read-thru-the-Bible in a year doesn't work so well for her because she likes to really think about each passage. She may follow the program, but take two to three years to read through.
5. Memorize Scripture. Memorize in another language. She likes to memorize while walking for exercise.
MISSIONARY #4: Male, single, early 20's; thrives on habits and routines, is a voracious reader; is not an early riser
1. When you first arrive the habits and routines you are used to are gone. It takes time to establish new routines, but keep working on it.
2. Because he loves to read, he needs lots of challenges to satisfy his appetite for books. Reads commentaries, etc.
3. Really likes a One Year Bible Plan. Because we take siestas here, and because he's not a morning person, he reads part of it at siesta and part of it in the evening.
4. As he reads, he journals, asking himself who?, what?, where?, when?, why? how?
5. Finding time to pray is most challenging, so he uses his reading time to incorporate prayer.
6. Has downloaded apps on his phone for prayer and Bible memory. Sorry I can't provide links, but one was praying for missions and one was a way to test your memory on Bible passages.
7. Plays the guitar and sings.
8. Memorization is helpful. He has a good big picture of the Bible so memorization helps him with details.
What are some ways you've found helpful to have time alone with God each day? If you're struggling in this area, I hope you will find something here that will be useful to you.