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Five ways to put God first in your spare time

By: katie neipp

The idea of spare time can sometimes feel like a luxury.

Maybe you get a few hours at the end of your weekdays. But if your schedule is similar to mine, spare time is almost exclusively a weekend affair. For this reason, we can feel protective over our free time. 

And yet, we still have a habit of wasting it. Have you ever sat down to do something you enjoy, like browsing around your phone or scrolling through your Netflix queue, only to find that when you’re done, you don’t feel any more rested than when you began? In fact, you may feel even worse.

There is a way to enjoy our spare time that makes the most of the time we have and leaves us feeling rested and refreshed in the end. It starts with putting God first. 

Time is valuable to us. It’s also valuable to God. After all, He is the one who numbers our days (Psalm 139:16, Job 14:5). God cares about how we spend our time, and He wants to be first in all of it — our working time and our downtime. 

Here are five ways we can put God first in our most unstructured moments: 

1. Offer your spare time up to God. 

If you know you have free time coming in your schedule, start by surrendering that time to God through prayer. Ask Him to allow your spare time to refresh you and to honor Him. 

After praying, you may find that changes in your schedule feel less like inconvenient interruptions and more like God’s guidance to more purposeful interactions. He wants to spend time with us and show us new things about His character. 
 
Proverbs 25:2 reminds us, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings to search them out.” Loving God also means seeking to know Him more. And there is so much to know about Him. So much that we will never know everything there is to know about Him. But don’t be discouraged, that’s just one of the amazing things about Him! 

Our glory is in our quest to know God more. We do this by searching for Him in our spare time. Reading, listening, and watching are all practical ways to seek to know God more. 

2. Read a book about God. 

The Bible is a great way to hear God’s voice and see how He has moved on behalf of His people. But, reading books about God can also expand our knowledge of Him and stir our affections for Him. For example:

  • Books on specific topics can help us to reflect on God’s truth in practical ways. They take biblical ideas and apply them to our thoughts and behaviors. 
  • Theology books can help us to articulate ideas we see in the Bible, but struggle to explain. They can bring awareness into themes that span the whole of God’s Word. 
  • History books help us understand the events we come across while reading the Bible. They can also help us to understand why the Bible is a reliable source. 
  • Even poetry and fiction can bring us closer to God. Jesus Himself used creative illustrations and stories to bring insight into the hearts of His listeners.

3. Listen to the Bible or your favorite worship songs. 

Proverbs 2:2 tells us to turn our ears to wisdom and apply our hearts to understanding. If reading is not your thing, ease into it by listening to audiobooks or an audio Bible. 

Listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and music also allow you to turn your ears to wisdom while driving, biking, hiking, jogging, or doing any number of things. Time with God is just a play button away. It’s not so much what you’re doing but what you are listening to while you do it. 

What’s most important is to consider what will stir your affection for God more. It could be a sermon or podcast. But maybe not. It could be a song. Or maybe, it's unplugging and actually just listening to the sound of God’s creation.

4. Watch what God is doing around you. 

Spend time admiring God’s creation. He has created so much good in the world, and it’s constantly pointing us toward Him (Psalm 66:4). 

Think about the way Jesus taught. He told people to “look to the birds of the air” and “observe the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:26). Lessons about God’s character are all around us. We can learn about God’s goodness just from watching His creation.

Maybe your affections are stirred by more factual knowledge. In that case, seek out documentaries about church leaders and church history. It’s amazing to learn how God has used those who came before us to grow His church. 

5. Invite God’s people to your day. 

Finally, whether you’re reading, listening, watching, or out and about doing something, consider inviting someone else to be a part of it. Seeking community is a huge step in the direction of seeking God. 

Inviting others to be a part of our day helps to grow us! When we give our lives to Christ, we begin to see how he uniquely reflects off each one of us. Spending time with other Christians who reflect these unique characteristics helps us to see God in new ways.  
  
When we start off our spare time by offering it to God, He multiplies the blessings we receive as we seek Him. So, next time you have some free time coming up, go ahead and plan how you can use it to put God first. You will be amazed to see how refreshed you feel by the end. 

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). 

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