Photograph by Pedro Forester da Silva via Unsplash

A woman after God’s own heart

The other day, I called my mom to ask her how she’s gone about cultivating her personal devotional life. The enduring picture of my mother seated with her Bible and prayer journal lives rent free in my head. All my life, I’ve seen my mom set time aside from being a mother, a wife, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend, to spend time with God. My mother, who’s recently become an ordained Baptist minister, said she returns time and time again to the late Rev. Charles Spurgeon’s devotional, Morning and Evening. Over the years, she’s made a practice of gifting it to different folks in her life, including me. Perhaps not so coincidentally, I’d seen my copy recently, tucked away amongst other books. What she says she loves about this work of Spurgeon’s, in addition to his gripping prose, is that it compels her to draw closer to God by delving into Scripture, since Spurgeon only includes one line in each entry.

Since picking Morning and Evening back up, I’ve found myself reading the full chapter, like Hebrews 12 and Luke 10, which contain popular verses that I’ve certainly heard quoted and referenced often, like Hebrews 12:1 (NIV): “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few,” and Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

What I’ve also learned from observing my mother’s devotional life is to have a variety of sources to enrich your walk with God. When I was younger, I took it upon myself to borrow my mother’s copy of Germaine Copeland’s Prayers That Avail Much. Within it are scripturally-based prayers that cover an array of topics, from prayers for yourself to those in your life, to the government and its leaders. I ended up losing my mom’s copy (sorry Mom!) but loved the book so much that I bought my own and have recommended it to others. When I seek God through prayer using Copeland’s book, I write down the names of who I’m praying for in the book to remember and to praise God in celebration of answered prayers.

All my life, I’ve seen my mom set time aside from being a mother, a wife, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend, to spend time with God.

Recently, I’ve finished Well-Watered Women’s Refreshed: A Devotional for Women in Dry Seasons which I bought in support of a friend who helped co-author the book. What I loved about this devotional was the candid vulnerability that each contributor brought to their entry. Many days, I felt like they were speaking directly to me, with insight about what was going on in my life and in my heart. The questions that followed also helped me to write out my thoughts in the space provided, rather than just ruminate in my head.

Thanks to my mother, I also grew up listening to the late Rev. Dr. Charles Stanley and Rev. Dr. Tony Evans on the radio, plus too many gospel greats to name, like CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Mahalia Jackson, Fred Hammond, and Kirk Franklin back when cassette tapes and CDs were the norm. Their sermons and songs enriched my spiritual life and fortified my faith by exposing me to what a strong sermon or praise and worship song sounded like.

In 2017, I started keeping a prayer journal after seeing my mother use hers as an example for a Bible study she was teaching. As I recorded her, she held up a journal covered in sunflowers that she said was reserved for prayers that were just for my brother and me. Sunflowers were her favorite flowers, and she watered the garden of my brother’s faith and mine through persistent, written prayers.

In my search for a deeper devotional life and communion with God as I pursue my path to ordination and continue my walk with God, I’m so grateful that Scripture tells us that we can “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). We don’t have to draw near as perfect people or even shame ourselves from growing distant or walking away from God. God understands that we are battling against our flesh more than we’d like to admit and that we are often distracted by our busy lives or by the schemes of the devil. And yet, God reminds us that He is near and always willing to draw near to us. Whether you draw near to God through worshipping, journaling, praying, or studying, remember, God is near and desires for us to draw near to Him.

Min. Ryan Lindsay Arrendell is an Emmy-award winning journalist, preacher, writer, and entrepreneur. She believes in storytelling as a powerful tool for healing & change. Whether she’s in the pulpit, the streets, the classroom or on the stage, Ryan Lindsay leads with love to connect with those around her.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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