Let’s get intentional: with God edition

let's get intentional with God blog

To avoid making my ebook Escaping Reaction; Embracing Intention too long, I’ve written this short series about intentionality in specific areas of our lives: money and relationships, so far.

My biggest challenge in writing this series and ebook has been resisting the lie that I need to perfectly embody every truth I write. The idea for the ebook came from my own struggles and frustrations, which I continue to tackle daily.

Spiritual intentionality and discipline feels particularly tender to me. It’s so personal, and I don’t want to risk stuffing it in a two-dimensional box of platitudes and to do lists.

My approach to spiritual discipline has swung between two extremes: fully devoted or lackadaisical.

The devoted side feels good – a little too good, maybe. I can’t make it two days into a Bible reading plan without feeling puffed up with pride, making it more about me than Him.

I commit to a pattern that eventually becomes rote and mundane, where eventually my body shows up while my brain and soul are absent. And that feels bad.

When I sense the stagnant feeling, I quit the practice for fear that I’ve become religious or that I’m linking my standing before God to my actions instead of His grace. I decide to take a more “organic” approach, which is to say, abandon all discipline.

Without built in structure, my prayer life becomes even more me-centric, like the spoiled child who only calls home when she needs something.

I have a migraine! God! Help!

This person is driving me nuts and I don’t want to face the confrontation. God! Fix her!

I’m uncomfortable, stressed out, in pain, lonely, insecure. God! Do something! 

I wake up and realize my prayer life has deteriorated, and that I’m seeing more scripture on other people’s Instagram feeds some days than in my actual life. That’s when I start to think there’s some beauty and holiness in just showing up.

I may not feel like it, and I may only be there out of duty at first, but at least I’m there. The act of quiet time with God and in His Word is, if nothing else, an act of humility that acknowledges He is God, and I am not.

Every quiet time does not have to be a mountaintop experience. I may fall asleep mid prayer some mornings, but I’m not going to scuttle away, ashamed to return. I may feel bored, cranky, tired or anxious, but I’m His bored, cranky, tired, anxious daughter and He delights in me regardless.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I struggle to be intentional in my spiritual life. Too intentional feels like law, the typical hoop jumping cycle. Defying structure doesn’t work, either.

Being spiritually intentional overlaps with being intentional everywhere else. It comes down to making the time, making the commitment, and following through.

Write a Bible chapter by hand, read a book, get a prayer partner, memorize verses, read the Bible in a year, pray first thing in the morning or on your commute or in bed at night.

The rhythms and patterns we choose don’t matter so much as their implications. For however brief a time, we acknowledge that He is God, and we are not.

We draw close to Him, accept His invitation to the throne, however out of place or guilty or prideful stepping in might make us feel.

Little by little, we feel the weight of grace, the audacious blanket that dares cover us no matter how far we run. Maybe we understand, for a minute, our measureless value, rooted in nothing we’ve done.

Do you struggle in the same ways I do? What wisdom do you have on the topic?

5 thoughts on “Let’s get intentional: with God edition

  1. I’ve been pondering this issue a lot myself lately and trying to find balance. I feel the exact same way! Either it’s all in or…I don’t want to say all out but you know. I have a girlfriend who had been struggling with this also and we decided to start up a Bible study together and to keep each other accountable. Well wouldn’t you know we’ve only had one actual meeting because well LIFE gets in the way BUT even at that, the effort we have put in has really had an impact on my spiritual life. We have been successful about encouraging each other every day and updating prayer requests and as a result I’ve been more apt to be in my Bible more. I’ve also taken small steps to increase the amount of time dedicated to my spiritual life by listening to sermons and podcasts in the car, reading encouraging books, and utilizing my breaks to read my daily devotional app. They are small, easy to do things that have made a big difference and have helped to keep Jesus as my center :) Loved reading your post!

  2. Love your thoughts, Jacey. And I totally identify with swinging between structure and lack of.
    My old pastor called spiritual discipline stuff “grace-driven effort,” which kind of sums up the mix of my part–effort, showing up–and the fact that these efforts are a result of His grace working in me. We show up because He loves us, not to make Him love us.

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