Spending a Day with God in Solitude and Personal Planning
Last week I wrote about the value of having your own Personal Mission Statement. If you’ve not yet read that blog, I think you’ll want to or this one may not make much sense.
Have you ever spent an entire day all alone with God?
While it’s possible to write a mission statement and set your goals by catching a few hours here and there, but why would you? Why rob yourself of the opportunity to be alone with God and by doing so telling him that you’re giving him your full attention. “Speak to me, Lord. I’m listening.” Hearing from God requires time alone with him to listen for his direction. It is his guidance you’ll need to truly live a life that blesses him and pleases you.
You say you just don’t have the time? Then skip church, take Sunday off, ask your spouse, a friend, or relative to watch the kids. People have reported that when they’ve asked their spouse for a day off to seek God to be a more godly man or woman, and not just to go to a game, fishing, or shopping, they were surprised at how excited they were to help out. Who wouldn’t want a spouse more deeply committed to them, their children and God?
So, what does a day alone with God look like?
CHOOSING THE PLACE
Where you take your day isn’t terribly important as long as it’s somewhere you can pray, reflect, and write with few distractions. Some people have gone to a park, the beach, a friend’s cottage, or a bed and breakfast. Others have actually gone hiking and will pray and seek God’s guidance as they walk, stopping to write when they sense God speaking to them.
I recommend taking only a Bible, these materials, and a journal or a few blank pages to write out your goals. Leave your phone, iPad, computer, or books and anything else that will tempt you to “check-in” or “check-out” mentally. If you’re leaving small children at home and feel the need to be available to babysitters, then covenant with God that you will only receive their messages or calls and no others.
BEFORE YOU GO
If you’ve not read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren yet, or in the last few years, you should. It’s a wonderful reminder of God’s purpose and plans for all who call themselves his children. John Eldredge’s book The Epic will also help you get a fresh perspective on God’s purpose for every believer’s life.
YOUR DAY WITH GOD
• Begin your day with an extended time of prayer and Bible reading. Don’t be in a rush to get at the work. Filling your mind with God is the work!
• Tell God you’re listening to him and spend perhaps a half-hour saying or reading nothing. Write down any impressions he gives you as they come even if it doesn’t make much sense at the moment.
• Begin the writing of your mission statement by first answering the questions in the next section.
WRITING YOUR PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT
A mission statement is a written summary of the most important values, relationships, and accomplishments which define for God and for you a life of significance and contentment.
The first series of questions ask, “Who are you presently?” This isn’t who you want to be, but for better or worse who are you right now. This is a time for brutal honesty. I’ve met with people who were courageous enough to write answers like “selfish”, “I want what I want”, or “I’m angry”. The more honest you are, the easier it will be to identify what must change in your life. You don’t need to share your answers with anyone unless you choose to do so; therefore, don’t be concerned about what anyone thinks but God and yourself.
There is no suggested time limit on each question, but first impressions are often the best. If you reflect too long, there’s a temptation to massage the answer into something more flattering. Go with the first ideas God puts on your mind. So begin now with prayer, then get started.
WHO ARE YOU PRESENTLY? A SELF-ANALYSIS:
1. In one word, who are you? Not who or what you would like to be, but for better or worse, what one word best describes who you presently are. Perhaps it’s a character trait or even a feeling. Who are you?
2. Answer that same question, this time using two or three more words to complete a phrase and flesh out who you are when no one but God and yourself is watching.
3. What is the most important virtue, fear, or principle which governs your life? Who are you when nobody is looking? It might be something good or something you don’t really like about yourself.
4. Two of your greatest strengths are…
5. Your two greatest weaknesses are…
6. If your family and close friends were to honestly write your epitaph today, in one sentence, what would they say? How would they summarize your life so far?
7. If God were asked to summarize your life up to this point, what would he say?
THE PERSON YOU WISH TO BECOME
1. Did you have a person who was a role model for you when you were growing up? What character qualities did you most admire in them?
2. If you could be remembered for having lived by only two principles they would be…
3. At the end of your life, if you could be remembered for having accomplished only three things, what would they be? (These can be things you have already accomplished or hope to accomplish.)
4. If God were to write a mission statement for what you think he wants your life to be, how do you think it would read? Write three of four sentences.
5. In one sentence, write your own epitaph for the person you would like to become. How would you like to be remembered?
Once you’ve done this, you will have completed a rough draft of your Personal Mission Statement. Over the next few weeks, edit this paragraph down to two or three sentences. I modified mine several different times in the first year and that’s okay.
Then write your Life Goals, which are mini-mission statements for your life for the following applicable areas: Spiritual Growth, My Spouse, Our Children, Vocation and Finances, Friends and Extended Family and Physical and Emotional Wellness. Review last week’s blog for more details on Life Goals.
Praise God in song or prayer for any new insights. Then go on to write some One-Year and Quarterly Goals, which will help you move to forward with intentionality. (You will find some help in doing this by reviewing my blogs on Accountability in December.)
The first time I took a day alone with God it was one of the most empowering days of my life. I left to go home believing I had heard from God and was ready to live more purposefully than I ever had!
If you sense God calling you to get more serious about this process, I’ve written a workbook of nearly 40 pages entitled, Discovering Your Life’s Purpose (DYLP) with a lot more detail, guiding you through the steps I’ve outlined above. It contains many more pages of additional questions to ask of yourself as you write your Mission Statement, your Life Goals, and One year Goals – there are even ideas for goals you might want to consider setting. Even more importantly, I spend considerable time discussing how to use the mentoring and accountability groups I’ve been blogging about to keep your feet to the fire to accomplish all that God and you have determined you want for yourself. You’ll find more information about DYLP on our RESOURCES page.
Questions: Have you tried to spend a day alone with God? How did it go? What worked or didn’t work?
Following Jesus in Real Life.