God established rhythms of worship and remembrance for the Hebrews when they left Egypt and first became the nation of Israel. In addition to Sabbath days of rest, there were holy days of remembrance, feasts, times for confession, and days of thanksgiving. Through this intentionality, God’s people were taught to practice cycles of renewal.
Why were these days and times so important to the identity of God’s chosen people?
Jesus said the entire law could be summed up by the purpose of loving God or others. If everything God commanded was meant to help us love him or our neighbors better, then somehow the concept of regimen and rhythm was meant to help us grow closer to God and serve others.
Perhaps establishing or reestablishing a spiritual routine will prepare our hearts for the revival we desire.
Routines Positions Us
Psychologists agree regular routines decrease stress, promote better sleep, and are healthier for children.
During the pandemic, when millions lost their weekly patterns of work and play and home, mental distress increased. Routines decrease the mental load of decision-making and form a culture in our lives and homes.
God knew ordering our time was essential to maximizing our relationship with him. When God established routines for his people, they regularly included prayer, fasting, worship, giving, and remembrance. These activities often compete with work, school, activities, and the stresses associated with a full schedule.
But in our day of fast-paced and maxed-out schedules, the routines leading to revival slow us down, regularly, so we can hear from God and acknowledge him.
Routines Remind Us
Alarms remind us to wake up. We follow patterns when driving to routine locations. Important traditions put us in the mindset for holidays.
Routines help us do important things.
Proverbs 8:17 declares, “Those who seek me diligently find me.”
One of the benefits of a spiritual routine is that it establishes a consistent rhythm exposing us to truth: God exists and is the creator of all things; God loves you and desires you to know him.
Ignoring our spiritual wellbeing, like ignoring our physical wellbeing, can have dire consequences over time.
Daily prayer, regularly reading God’s word, weekly worship, small group encouragement, an annual fast — these are reminders of who God is and the kingdom in which we live.
What other ways might put you in the path of the work God is doing in and around you?
Routines Form Us
Our habits form us.
Twice Jesus was described doing an activity “as was his custom.” Both times the “custom” or routine had to do with worship and prayer (Luke 4:16, 22:39).
Jesus taught regularly in the temples and retreated often to pray.
There are routines which will improve your physical fitness, practices which will help you lose weight, and disciplines which will, over time, strengthen your financial position.
There are specific routines, too, which help position us to know God better. Hearing and reading God’s word (worship) and prayer are examples modeled by Jesus.
“Routine” may sound ordinary, but without organization, our time is reactionary to the events around us and not intentional toward the goals to which we aspire. Small deeds accomplish grand intentions.
A lack of routine results in a life lived according to circumstance. But routines, on the other hand, form us according to a plan.
1. Start Small — Start by modifying your current routine rather than trying to completely upend your schedule. Do you have silent time at lunch each day? Could you adjust how you spend your commute? Would an extra-long hot bath give you time to reflect? How hard would it be to carve ten minutes off of your gaming time? Consider a modification which overcomes the typical objections to personal renewal.
2. Remove Roadblocks — For some, accountability partners are essential pieces of daily or weekly routines. However, other friends may be a distraction. If the routine requires quiet peace, like prayer, remove the possibility of any distractions during the time you set aside. If the routine involves the joy of being with others, like weekly worship, then let everyone in your circle of friends and acquaintances know that you are busy during that time.
3. Get It on Your Calendar — Set a recurring 15-minute “meeting” on your calendar at the same time each day. Use the notification to pause and pray, read a short Scripture, text someone with an encouragement, or give to those in need. Even if you are super busy, you will be glad the reminder is there, and it will give you an opportunity to acknowledge and respond as soon as possible. To be successful, routines do have to be flexible. But first, they have to be a priority.
God’s design for his covenant people included annual, weekly, and daily routines meant to structure our days and intentionally focus us on worshiping him and loving others. Routines help us pause, remind us of the God we serve, and form us over time. If you are not typically a “routine” person, start small, remove obvious roadblocks, and commit to calendaring prayer, worship, and encouragement.
Nourishing these practices will prepare your heart for revival.