When and where do you (try to) spend time with God?
First thing in the morning, lunchtime and last thing at night.
How do you spend this time?
6am-7am – I read ten pages of a classic puritan (currently working through John Owen), ten pages of a Church Father (currently Chrysostom) and two chapters of Scripture (using the McCheyne calendar). I pray using various prayer notes, the Prayer mate app, the BCP and The Valley of Vision. I also sing or read a psalm (from Sing Psalms – the psalmody of the Free Church).
1:00-1:30 pm – I have my lunch whilst reading a Christian book – then read another biblechapter from the McCheyne calender and a short prayer.
Before going to bed I read another bible chapter from the McCheyne calendar and pray – sometimes with my wife. I also keep a diary.
How do you pray?
I use the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer – praying first for his name to be praised, his kingdom to come; then for my daily bread, forgiveness, deliverance and finally his glory.
Who has encouraged you or been an example in your devotional life? How?
Tim Keller’s book on prayer is wonderful. Robert Murray McCheyne (my predecessor in St Peters) was a fine example….as are the Puritans and Calvin.
What practices have you found helpful for engaging with the Bible?
I do keep a journal. But I find that the regular systematic reading of the Bible is the greatest help. I have used the McCheyne calendar for 30 years. I am learning to meditate more. It is important that I do not look at my e-mails, messages etc before I read – especially in the morning.
When you feel spiritually dry or unmotivated to spend time with God, what do you do?
I read anyway. The habit is good. And many times when I feel dry – it is the very act of reading that stimulates prayer and feeds me!
What wisdom about spending time with God would you give to a younger version of yourself?
Give your best time of the day (when your mind is sharpest). Never make it an optional extra. Specifically set aside a time which you would no more miss, than you would a meal. And regularly read through the Scriptures and use the BCP and other devotional works – with some substance to them.
What have you found helpful for avoiding distraction?
Being alone in a quiet place without a computer or phone – before the day begins. At lunchtime I go and sit in my church. Evening is pretty useless for me.