I’m recording this on the hottest day of the year in the UK so far. Possibly the hottest ever day since records began. 

Sensibly, I went out nice and early for my morning prayer walk. I noticed something unusual. Most days I see the occasional cyclist and a few joggers. Today, well before 7 AM, I was dodging between powerwalkers, joggers, runners and cyclist of all shapes and sizes. I couldn’t work it out. It’s Thursday morning. There’s nothing special about today. Why so many more people exercising than usual. Then it hit me. 

They all know that it’s going to be too hot to exercise later. They’re getting the lunchtime run or evening jog in whilst they can. They’ve adapted.

For the last three months I have adopted a more intentional and extensive exercise regime. More time on the bike, and regularly going through a strength training set of exercises developed for me by Debbie Bishop. Both innovations have been tremendously helpful to my energy levels, sense of well-being, and hopes for a healthier old age!

However, a mixture of travel to help my mother, a few days with a bug, and the recent hot weather have made me inconsistent. Or rather, I have decided inconsistency is allowable. Now, while adaptability as a good thing, inconsistency is not! Something interesting happened today.

I already knew I needed to do my strength training exercises, but, given the anticipated heat of the day, I had half allowed myself the idea that I would skip them. But, having seen all those extra joggers and cyclists this morning, it helped motivate me to get on with my exercises once I got home.

So, back at the pad, I jumped straight into it, before the heat of the day became oppressive. Placing a fan on the floor and directing it straight of my face while performing the floor exercises also made a difference!

Much as we might hope to not need external motivation, the truth is that the example of others and the camaraderie of working together on something makes a difference to us being consistent in the things that matter.

This is just as true of prayer and our times of quiet with God as anything else. Yes, we need our own motivation, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we don’t need some external support and inspiration from time to time. Let’s think about what this could mean and how it might help our times of quiet with God.

  • The Friend. 
    • Friends help us in three key ways:
    • First, they give us companionship: “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.(1 Sam. 23:16 NIV11)
      • Sometimes we need a friend to help us find strength in God. A person to talk to, a person to pray with.
      • Do you have such a friend?
    • Second, they give us guidance, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” (Galatians 6:1 NIV11)
      • At other times we need someone to help us come back to God when we have moved far away from him.
      • And, of course we may need this ourselves.
      • Are you this kind of resource for other people? Or, do you need some restoration yourself?
    • Third, they give us inspiration, “Jehu said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD.” Then he had him ride along in his chariot. (2 Kings 10:16 NIV11) 
      • Spending time with someone on fire for God can you help us reconnect with him.
      • Who would be the”Jehu” in your life?
  • The Community
    • “…the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Rom. 8:15 NIV11) 
      • The key word here for our purposes is, “we”. It’s never just that I cry, but I cry together with others.
      • It’s important that we know each other’s prayer needs in the congregation. If your congregation is large, then at least know the needs within your local small group. Take the example of the apostle Paul:
        • “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…” (Col. 1:9 NIV11)
      • And, of course, let your needs be known.
        • “Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favourably received by the Lord’s people there…” (Rom. 15:31 NIV11)
    • I sent a text message this morning to someone letting them know I was praying for something they asked us to pray about. I just received a reply thanking me, and telling me that she is praying for something I have asked for prayers about.
    • Knowing that my needs are known and that I know the needs of others is a motivation to consistency in my times of quiet with God.

I am grateful for the early-morning exercisers in Cassiobury Park this morning. They helped me to get on with what I really want to do. I hope you find the motivation you need to help you to develop the depth and intimacy with God that you really want. Could a friend and your Christian community help you with this today?

Do you have any tips you could share that might help us develop a consistent motivation in times of quiet with God? What helps you to stay motivated? And what ways have you found it effective in trying to help other people stay motivated? Alternatively, what demotivates you? Please share your story, your answers, your questions and your struggles.

Scriptures referred to or you might find useful: 1 Samuel 23; 2 Kings 10; Colossians 1:9; Romans 15:31.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

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God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John