Listen to this devotional
God should be our priority, not someone we squeeze into a busy schedule.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves without the structure we once held on to tightly.
In March 2020, our daily routines were thrown into disarray as we were required to stay in our homes unless providing an essential service to society. In this time many of us found solace in deciding to put God first in the midst of this crisis, retreating to scriptures and prayer as we endured a generation-defining pandemic unfolding in real-time.
And now, at the time of writing, many cities are beginning to show some semblance of normalcy (albeit with the troubling specter of the Delta variant threatening to slow if not pause progress made by vaccine distribution).
As businesses open up and our schedules are slowly getting filled once again with activities, it’s a great time to reflect and consider how we might keep God a priority in our day-to-day lives and not allow him to get lost in the shuffle.
Here are a few questions to guide your reflection:
- How often is God in our thoughts?
- How often was He a part of our daily life? (Pre-pandemic)
- During the pandemic, did I consider God more or less?
- What changes will I need to make to prioritize God as life is opening up?
The lifting of restrictions provides us with a great opportunity to completely revamp our everyday lifestyles. This study is meant to help us do it in a way that puts God first in his rightful place as the number one priority in our lives.
Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.Psalm 27:4 TPT
With this in mind, here’s how to put God first in your daily routine by following 9 simple steps.
Renew your motives
So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.Romans 12:1 NCV
For some of us, we need to refresh our motives by taking a look at why we turn to God. This scripture teaches us how to respond to God’s great mercy to us: offer our lives as a living sacrifice.
This means it is not enough to simply acknowledge that God has been kind to us, but real gratitude for God leads to living a selfless life. But our motives matter.
We don’t do this for the praise, applause, or attention from people. Our primary motivation for this kind of selfless life is God and pleasing Him.
- How often do you evaluate your motives?
- What other motives compete against pleasing God in your life?
- Do you live your life primarily motivated to live for and please God?
Start with prayer
The next morning, Jesus got up long before daylight, left the house while it was dark, and made his way to a secluded place to give himself to prayer. Later, Simon and his friends searched for him,  and when they finally tracked him down, they told him, “Everyone is looking for you—they want you!”  Jesus replied, “We have to go on to the surrounding villages so that I can give my message to the people there, for that is my mission.”Mark 1:35-38 TPT
Although I consider myself a morning person, I know many people who do not consider themselves morning people and feel intimidated by this passage.
I believe the emphasis of this passage should be on Jesus’s priority and effort with God. He made it a point to find a time and a place where he was undistracted, and as a result, was able to give himself to prayer.
Starting the day off with God is about starting the day prioritizing God. I am guilty of getting distracted by the daily deluge of app notifications: ESPN, Citizen, Neighborhood…the list goes on.
When I start my day off distracted, it becomes harder for me to connect in prayer and give God the kind of attention He deserves and that I also need to calm my anxieties, worries, and burdens. I need isolated places to pray, and the earlier it is, the easier it is to find isolation for those of you who are outdoor people like I am.
Jesus started his day off with prayer and as we will visit later, the effect of a good morning with God is clarity about our purpose. Jesus prayed then went off to change the lives of those around him.
- What do your mornings teach you about your priorities?
- What would need to change about your values to start your day off with God?
- What can you imitate from Jesus and how we started off his day?
Listen for God 24/7
When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.Jeremiah 15:16 NLT
This scripture is full of inspiration. The words discovery, devour, joy, and delight help paint a picture of how satisfying a relationship with God ought to be.
Unfortunately, we don’t always feel this way, especially when we treat God like he is a to-do item instead of a relationship.
Prioritizing God isn’t about treating God like He is another to-do item on our checklist. The challenge and inspiration of walking with God is about learning to listen to God all throughout the day.
I have to be careful to not fall into the religious trap of treating God like He is just another morning routine, but rather fight to listen to God all throughout the day. You can do this by taking time to read the Bible and praying at different times of the day.
And there are many creative ways to study the Bible: Listening to the audio Bible, listening to a playlist of songs that remind you of him, and listening to a podcast on your drive or on a lunch break at work are all fun ways to take in the Word that don’t require you to sit at a table.
- When was the last time you felt the way Jeremiah 15:6 describes a relationship with God?
- Have you fallen into the religious trap of treating God like another to do item in your day?
- How can you get creative in your relationship with God?
Strive for excellence
Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,  knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.Colossians 3:23-24 AMP
Putting God first in our daily routines goes beyond a quiet time. Prioritizing God also means we represent Him by putting forth our best effort in everything we do.
For students, this means living with an “A” effort and making that a priority over your actual grade. For those of us in the workforce, this means working hard and having integrity even when your boss isn’t around because of “who” you are really working for.
- How hard do you work?
- If you are a hard worker, what drives you?
- What does your work ethic reflect about God to others?
Do something kind
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:21 NIV
Being unselfish and kind pleases God. Our instincts are to be selfish and self-centered, but we can overcome this by being kind.
Buying someone coffee, leaving someone an encouraging message or note, reminding someone you believe in them, or simply saying hello to a stranger. You simply never know how God can work through a simple act of kindness.
- How hard do you work at being kind?
- Whose life would be impacted by your kindness?
Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),  Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.Ephesians 5:15-17 AMPC
When we decide to live with purpose – doing the work to be spiritually conscious, we create opportunities to be purposeful.
On my morning prayer walks, I’ve gotten to know some of my fellow early risers out walking their dogs, taking a walk, and windsurfing.
There have been times where I believe God puts them in my path, creating conversations that I didn’t intend to have. It’s in those moments that I begin to realize that God is orchestrating things to help them see God through our conversations.
From my experience, I have seen God work through my life and give deeper meaning to my purpose through my pain, but also through things I am passionate about.
I have been able to build life-long relationships by sharing very difficult and shameful experiences in my life. I have also built great relationships through the game of basketball.
- How can God use your pain to help you fulfill your purpose?
- How can God use your passion to make a difference in other people’s lives?
- How often do you take advantage of the opportunities God gives you through your pain and passion?
Be interested in others
So she did. And as it happened, the field where she found herself belonged to Boaz, this relative of Naomi’s husband.  Boaz arrived from the city while she was there. After exchanging greetings with the reapers he said to his foreman, “Hey, who’s that girl over there?” Boaz went over and talked to her. “Listen, my child,” he said to her. “Stay right here with us to glean; don’t think of going to any other fields. Stay right behind my women workers; I have warned the young men not to bother you; when you are thirsty, go and help yourself to the water.” She thanked him warmly. “How can you be so kind to me?” she asked. “You must know I am only a foreigner.” “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied, “and I also know about all the love and kindness you have shown your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you left your father and mother in your own land and have come here to live among strangers.Ruth 2:3-4,8-10 TLB
Boaz was a wealthy, well-respected man who noticed a poor, foreign, and widowed woman. His interest in her lifted her spirits. He didn’t have to help her but instead, he went out of his way to help her.
God is constantly interested in us. We can tell by all of the big and little ways he comes through for us, even when we don’t ask. When we take an interest in people, it’s them getting to see a glimpse of God.
- Who can you take an interest in?
- Whose life could be transformed if you took an interest in them?
Include God in your conversations
 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.  While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life.  And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.1 Samuel 23:16 NIV
David was overwhelmed and afraid for his life. Jonathan, his friend, helped him see God. He could have relied on his wit, own experiences, or wisdom to cheer David up.
Instead, he helped him turn to God to get strength in a tough situation. When we have conversations, we often feel the pressure to fix the problems for our friends instead of seeing God as the solution by sharing scriptures with them. When we include God in our conversations, the result is faith and strength.
- How often do you include God and His Word in your conversations?
- Do you believe more in your experience than in God’s powerful and transformative word?
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
For as many struggles as we can have, there is always a reason to be grateful. Our minds are wired to focus on the negative, oftentimes leaving us feeling ungrateful.
This passage calls us to be grateful in all circumstances, which can be daunting. However, the secret of being thankful in all circumstances lies in the depth and richness of our prayer life.
A faithful way to put God first in your daily routine is to develop a “gratitude attitude” which depends on how hard we are willing to pray.
- How grateful are you for God, your relationships, your career/school, and your life?
- What would have to change in your prayers to embrace the “gratitude attitude?”