Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! — 1 Chronicles 16:9-11 (ESV)
I don’t know about you, but for our family when summer hits, everything changes. For as long as I can remember, since my husband is a schoolteacher, summertime has been a time for slowing down and recovering from an intense year of activity. I love the break in our routine. I enjoy having him around more and plotting and planning bike trips and ocean walks and ice cream tasting times. What I don’t love, however, is the way routine changes can interrupt a steady quiet time habit with the Lord. I don’t want a vacation from God this summer … I want to vacation and slow down with Him.
Here are some ways to “keep it fresh” this summer.
1) Choose a new Bible study or devotional book. I suggest you don’t plan a long or intensive study unless that is your way of relaxing. Choose a topic that intrigues you or a devotional book you’ve been longing to try. Keep it short, but keep it consistent. Maybe you’d like to join the online study I’ll be leading in June on the life and wisdom of Solomon. It should take about 15 minutes each morning, and I’d love to have you join in. You can find the study on our Facebook page or on our website. Look for the tab, "Get Smart." But whether you choose this study or another one that captures your attention, just make a plan that will give you an eager heart to seek and learn in these warmer months.
2) Change the way you pray. Do you normally pray through prayer lists? Consider simplifying them—or tossing them out altogether for a month or two. Instead, perhaps focus on just immediate family … or maybe God is calling you to pray for a ministry in a big way … maybe He wants you to spend time simply praising and thanking Him … perhaps He’s calling you to listen for His prompting in what topics to lift in prayer … perhaps choose a psalm and use it as a springboard to pray for your loved ones. Don’t stop praying, but seek God about how to pray. The purpose is to keep your times with God fresh and rich.
3) Determine that God will still come first. Even if it’s summer, even if you sleep in a bit. Maybe find an outdoor spot if it’s not too hot and listen to birdsong and breezes in the quiet of the morning. If you have little children and they are up with you, include them in the first of it all. Gather them in their pajamas and say, “Let’s thank God first, today. Let’s listen for birds and look for His beauty and each of us choose at least one thing and say thank you to God for it this morning.”
4) End the day with a short walk. How it calms the soul to walk in the cool of the evening, admiring stars and whispering prayers. Unload all your cares of the day on His capable shoulders with no cell phone in sight. Hear the crickets and feel the air. Savor.
5) Choose a day or two to “run away on purpose” and spend extended time with the Lord. Bring with you some Christian books you’ve been meaning to read. A worship CD. Pray in depth for all that’s troubling you. Sit and be still and listen to God’s voice. Take time to bask in His love.
6) Pray with a friend at least once a month. Share concerns and heartaches and joys. Share your goals for meeting with God despite challenging summer schedules. Share your requests. Share a commitment to pray for one another. Check in with her and hold each other accountable.
7) Enjoy your church! If you’re normally too busy to attend midweek services … try one. Or three. Check out any special Christian music events in your area that you could attend and enjoy worship.
Summers are fun and relaxing. Or at least they’re meant to be. Intentionally relaxing with the God who loves us—and making sure He is front and center in all we do—will bring joy and purpose in the lazy days of summer. We’ll be open to hearing His “assignments” right in the middle of our quieter days and be able to answer them as we follow His leading.
Father, thank You for the “differentness” of summer. Thank You for a change of pace. Lord, show us how to love You and be with You even when our routines change. Be with us in all we do and teach us as we put You first each day and whisper good night to You last thing each evening. Help this summer to be rich with learning and loving You and others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.