In test preparation classes, test-taking experts coach students to look out for certain key words that leave no room for exceptions like all, every, never, and always. When these words appear in a test question, the test taker’s alarm bells should start going off. Usually, these words can safely be associated with some sort of false premise or false statement.
Interestingly, these same words are used in web headlines to get you to click through to an advertised product or article, i.e. “Five Things EVERYONE Should Know,” “Three Exercises ANYONE Can Do At Home,” “NEVER Feel Tired Again,” etc. In this context the words convey that the information being shared will, without a doubt, apply and be useful to you. The headlines are so enticing. It’s almost impossible not to click, even if our alarm bells are going off, and we know the promises are too good to be true.
We also like lists; a set of simple steps that, if followed, will lead to a desired result. Ever since “Stop, Drop and Roll” we’ve been trained to recognize the effectiveness of simple, easy to follow instructions. It’s hard to resist the promise of a good list.
So without further ado I present…EVERYONE Has Twenty Minutes: Four Steps To A Better You.
1. Read. Scripture, inspirational quotes, a daily devotional, an essay by your favorite author. Something that engages both your mind and your heart. Five minutes of reading can provide a smooth transition from outside distractions to a focused few minutes on yourself and God.
2. Listen. Do you have any idea how long twenty undistracted minutes is? You’ll have plenty of time to quietly listen for God’s presence in your life. So just be still and know for five minutes. Reflect on your reading. Empty your mind. Do breathing exercises. Avoid the temptation to go through your to-do list. Picture yourself on your favorite beach. Banish the guilt you’re feeling for taking twenty minutes for your spiritual health. Be available to God.
3. Pray. After reading and listening, let your prayer be a response to God. Pray for guidance. Confess your sins. Ask for help. Ask for forgiveness. Say thank you. Ask for protection from the things that tempt you. Ask God to look out for your friends and family. Be specific. But more important than what you say or how you say it is that you cultivate a habit of talking to God.
4. Write. Keep a journal. Try to include a few of the following things every day. One person you’re rooting for. One challenge to overcome today. One long-term goal. Three things for which you are grateful. A one sentence prayer. A favorite quote. Draw a picture. Write a poem.
5. Repeat. Every day. Okay, so there’s five steps. Consider step five a FREE BONUS.
Read. Listen. Pray. Write. Repeat.
These steps are so simple that ANYONE can do them. And best of all, they’re GUARANTEED to be effective. But don’t take my word for it. Try it for a week. See what happens.
I’m going to. I’ll let you know how it goes. EVERYONE has twenty minutes.
If you’re looking for a daily reminder to help guide your devotional time, let me recommend d365.org, a great resource from the folks over at PASSPORT Camps.