We are invited to “delight yourself in the Lord” (Ps. 37:4a), but I have noticed that many Christians haven’t yet experienced God as actually “delightful.” The most enjoyable part of my entire life has been to discover new depths of the delightfulness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I would love to see others experience just how wonderful He is! For a number of years I have been practicing various historic Christian approaches to this idea of seeking the Lord, abiding in Him, developing intimacy with Him, etc. I began to develop a list of helpful practices that I can practice on a daily basis for one month, then repeat in an ongoing fashion. This rhythm has brought new freedom into my life, enabled me to love others more, and uncovered more depths of joy and peace than ever before.
I am continuing to experiment with these “31 Days of Delight,” but decided to share my current pattern with you here.
- The goal is to practice only one of these each day. Think of these as small practices, where you simply “dip into” the presence of God each day in a fresh way.
- Journal daily regarding your experience (asking yourself what you appreciated or not, how the Lord was teaching, comforting, or stretching you, etc.). To accompany these practices with a daily journal entry (maybe even as short as 3 sentences) enables one to become attentive to what the Spirit of God is doing within one’s life.
- None of these practices need to replace your schedule for the day, but you may have to adjust it to make some room for these practices. You should be able to assimilate them into your normal rhythms.
- The order listed below is the order that I tend to follow, each matching up with its respective day of the month.
- Journaling. Taking reflective inventory before the Lord, and/or writing out some prayers in anticipation for the coming month, what are you desiring that the Lord would do in you during this time?
- Fasting. For at least one meal or for the day. In place of that meal, spend the time focusing on the Lord in whatever way connects best for you.
- Solitude + Silence. Decide upon a period of time during your day where you can get alone and be totally silent before the Lord. This doesn’t mean that you fill this time with reading or prayer, but that you stop and learn to “abide” in His presence (John 15). “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
- Psalm 23 and Lord’s Prayer Day. Meditation / prayerful recitation of each passage, morning, noon, evening.
- Soaking Prayer. My charismatic friends taught me about this, the idea is a time of playing worship music while “soaking in the presence of God” – usually one is laying down during this time.
- An Investment of Time and Energy into Studying Scripture. Either by audio, by reading, or by deeper exegetical study of a passage. The goal is that you spend some serious time investing in discovering the depths of His Word. You may want to read Psalm 119 for this day.
- Contemplative Prayer (focus on union with Christ). Don’t be scared by this title! The idea here is simple: pause, slow down, prayerfully ask Jesus to abide with you, draw near to Him (James 4:8), and recognize that His presence is with you, as He said, “behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The key is recognizing this as true, and REALLY thinking about it. Then go beyond merely “thinking about Him” to being with Him and in Him. John 15 or Psalm 84 are excellent passages for this practice.
- One Extra Act of Kindness. Plot this out at the beginning of your day. Consider someone somewhere that you can do some small act of service or sacrifice for! You may even want to plan out more than one act of kindness. Intentionality makes all the difference, you are training yourself to rediscover the lost art of kindness. Plant a seed of love and hope, keep your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).
- Intercessory prayer. Spend some time making a list of those you care deeply for and then bring these people before the Lord in intercession. Also try to add one additional simple act of kindness to your day.
- Practice His Presence. A focus on the reality that Jesus can be with you in every detail and moment of the day, this is abiding and practicing His presence. Imagine if your thoughts returned to Him constantly throughout the day!
- Worship Music Day. Simple, just play extra worship music as much as you can throughout the day.
- Nature. Observe God’s creative beauty and wisdom. It doesn’t have to be outside; it could be as simple as considering a plant or animal or fruit/vegetable and considering “what type of God would make this sort of creative beauty?”
- Pray the Hours. Check out the celtic prayers of Northumbria Community. They have morning, midday, and evening prayers that are theologically rich and Trinitarian.
- Gratitude. Write out 30 (or more) things you are grateful for. Possibly write out a prayer or psalm of gratitude in response.
- Scriptural Immersion. Take some time to consume an entire book of scripture. This is beyond study, this is immersion. Many books on scripture only take 30 or so minutes in audio format to listen through, so this doesn’t have to dramatically consume your day. Try out Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Ecclesiastes, or Habakkuk, etc. as these are shorter books. Consider the entire flow of the book and the overarching themes.
- Three Readings. Pick a passage. Read once and reflect upon it: What is highlighted to you? Read a second time more prayerfully, with special focus on the highlighted portion. Read it a third time, but this time abide in the highlighted section. Wait there and ask the Lord to open your eyes and reveal to you the wondrous things from His Word (Psalm 119:18). In church history, this is referred to as lectio divina (Divine Reading) with a mind oriented part (lectio), a heart oriented part (meditatio), and a soul oriented part (contemplatio).
- Modified Examen. This is a personal inventory and prayer. You may want to journal this out. Consider this helpful outline: Rejoice: List some things you can rejoice over. Request: Ask the Lord to show you any area that He wants to be at work within you. Review: What has the Lord been doing in your life? Where would you desire His work to become evident in you? Repent: Are there things that He is calling you to turn away from? Are there other things He is inviting you into? Renew: Focus forward on where He is calling you in the coming day, month, year.
- Prayer of Recollection. Take time to pray, and as stray thoughts come into your mind, lift them up individually to the Lord and ask Him to bring you back to a place of peace. Keep doing this with every stray thought until calmness and peace overwhelms you. This may take some time given our current global situation.
- Listen to Others. Learn to listen with love.
- Breath Prayer and Centering Prayer. Prepare a phrase that you can pray in one breath and also return to it throughout the day as a centering (refocusing) theme. Practice this through all the details of your day.
- Secrecy. Do something good for someone. Do it without anyone ever knowing.
- Vision / Missional Sentness. Reconnect with your vision and calling. How has the Lord led you to where you are now? How has He sent you out into His Harvest?
- Present your Body as a Living Sacrifice. “…holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Prayerfully take Romans 12:1 literally! Consider how your body may be offered to the Lord and how He has made you well.
- Communion. Take communion in private or with a friend!
- Spiritual Fellowship / Friendship. Intentionally go out of your way to connect with one friend. Consider your first impressions when you engage in fellowship.
- Consider Simplicity. Consider your life and review ways to increase simplicity, remove clutter (material, in your schedule, spiritually) that prevents you from delighting in the Lord.
- A Different Approach to Memorization. You could spend your time memorizing a verse or a passage (and feel free to!), but try this out: memorize the outline of a book of the Bible, get an overarching view of the flow of the book, and commit it to memory.
- Prayer for Enemies. Jesus said to do this! Try it out, make a list of people you can’t stand, then pray for them.
- Generosity. Consider one small act of generosity and delight in the Lord’s generousness toward you that enables you to be generous with others!
- Forgiveness. Consider His forgiveness toward you, what joy! Is there someone you also need to forgive?
- Virtuous Cycle of Ministry. Consider how you can serve in such a way that makes you enjoy serving even more. This creates a virtuous cycle of ministry toward others (rather than a guilt-driven or moralistically obligatory approach, you serve others out of joy and delightfulness in the Lord).
- Unplugging. This is a day without ANY phone OR computer. This requires additional planning but is vital in these times.
- Pilgrimage. This requires additional planning. Do a day trip somewhere special to spend time with the Lord in whatever way is best for you.
If these ideas are helpful for you, you may want to look into Adele Calhoun’s excellent resource, “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook” or Kenneth Boa’s comprehensive work, “Conformed To His Image.” Additional resources include: “The Spirit of the Disciplines” by Dallas Willard, “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster, “Discovering Your Spiritual Identity” by Trevor Hudson, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald Whitney, and “The Good and Beautiful God” by James Bryan Smith.
Share this Post