In the absence of corporate worship and personal devotions, we will inevitably anchor ourselves in something else. Our spiritual lives will drift. Yes, we can meet with God in nature—at the lake, in the deer stand, on the mountains. God is present everywhere. But these encounters with God in nature cannot replace encounters with God in his word and with his people. We must not neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some. Without corporate worship and personal prayer and reflection on the Scriptures, our engagement with God in nature is hollowed out.
You are a made thing that needs anchor points. Anchor points establish rhythms of godwardness in our lives. Godwardness is the attempt to faithfully live out Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” But we can distinguish between two different types of godwardness, what I call “direct godwardness” and “indirect godwardness.”
Direct godwardness involves an intentional and direct focus on God himself. Prayer, worship, confession, reading the Bible—in all of these activities, we are attempting to engage with God directly. Indirect godwardness, on the other hand, involves a subtle and subconscious awareness of God’s presence while actively and intentionally engaging in the world he has made. Eating a meal, playing softball, driving a car, mowing the lawn, writing an email, making love, having a conversation, reading a novel—in these activities, our attention is on the world around us. Our lives ought to be structured by regular rhythms of direct and indirect godwardness, moving back and forth between direct interaction with God himself and active engagement with the world. Up to God, out into the world. Up to God, out into the world. This is the rhythm of our lives. Let’s consider a few examples.
A Devotional Life
Personal and family devotions, in which we read the word of God and seek his face in prayer—adoring him, confessing our sins, giving thanks, and making requests—anchor us on a daily basis. They are essential in cultivating a mind that is set on things above, because you cannot set your mind on things above if you never take time to actually direct your attention to things above—to Christ and the gospel and the glory of his appearing.
A regular devotional life anchors us in the love of God and helps to order our desires and set godly boundaries on our affections for the things of the world. It helps to keep our love of created things from becoming idolatrous. In such times, we remind ourselves that we are hidden with Christ in God and that our future is secure, and this enables us to put to death the earthly passions that war against our soul. If you need help in cultivating a devotional life, I’d recommend the book Habits of Grace by my friend David Mathis.1It’s an excellent one-stop shop for growing in your desire for Christ and the things above.