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Priority #1 for all Christians

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Why time at the Master’s feet is worth finding time for.

by Gloria Copeland

If you were to ask me to name the most important principle of Christian living I’ve ever learned, I could answer you without hesitation. It is the secret of daily communion with God. That is, without question, the number one priority of the Christian life. It is the key that opens every door.

Yet it is the one thing many Christians can’t seem to find time for.

When you think about it, that’s astonishing. No other group of people since Adam and Eve has had the opportunity to fellowship with God the way we have. The Creator and Ruler of the entire universe has made Himself available to personally meet with us as believers every day. He sent Jesus to the cross to shed His blood so that we could enter into the holy of holies and draw near to Him anytime we desire.

God Himself has flung open to us the door of fellowship and said, “I’m here for you. Just draw near to Me, and I’ll draw near to you. Spend time with Me, and I’ll give you the wisdom you need. I’ll strengthen you and equip you and help you in every area of your life.”

But for the most part, Christians have been too busy to take Him up on it.

“Well, Gloria,” you might say, “considering how much we have to do these days, that’s understandable.”

Is it? Suppose you woke up one morning, walked into your kitchen and found Jesus Himself sitting at your table. Would you be too busy to stop and talk with Him? Would you leave Him sitting there alone while you rushed through the business of the day, talked on the phone, watched television and then fell, exhausted, into bed? Goodness, no! It would be unthinkable!

Yet that is what we do, day after day, when we let the busyness of living crowd out our time with the Master. That is what we do when we neglect our daily fellowship with Him. We miss out on the counsel He wants to give us. Like Martha, we become “worried and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41, New King James Version). Yet all those things would be taken care of if we would stop and spend time with the Lord. All would be well if we would follow Mary’s example and do the one thing that is needful: spend time at Jesus’ feet.

Discovering God’s Plan

Why is that time so important? Because in those precious hours and moments alone in God’s presence, we truly get to know the Lord. We discover His plan for our lives and we lay hold of the wisdom and grace to carry it out. As we fellowship with the Lord, we receive His direction and His power to do what we are divinely designed to do.

I know that from experience. The time I’ve spent with the Lord in the Word and in prayer has literally shaped my life. I shudder to think where I would be today without it. When I was growing up, my world was so small I could hardly think beyond the little Arkansas town where I lived. The only dream I had back then was being an airline stewardess. I had no sense of purpose or divine destiny. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the life I have now. I certainly couldn’t have asked God for it because I didn’t even know this kind of life was available!

Even after Ken and I answered God’s call to the ministry and we were living in a tiny house in Tulsa while Ken attended Oral Roberts University, we had no idea what God’s plan for us was. I remember the day Ken went down to the riverbed to pray about the future and God spoke to his heart, telling him that he was going to preach to nations. We couldn’t imagine going to nations. We hardly had enough money to drive from Oklahoma to Texas to visit Ken’s family back then. How were we ever going to travel to nations?

It didn’t seem possible. But now, more than 35 years later, we’ve not only traveled to nations, we reach out to people in nations all over the world almost every day of the week through our ministry offices and television broadcasts. How have we done it?

Naturally speaking, I don’t really know. All I can say is that we did it by staying in constant fellowship with God. We did it by spending time with Him daily through His Word and through prayer—by hearing His voice and following His guidance one step at a time.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Frankly, I had to do it that way because I don’t have the natural ability or resources to do what God instructed us to do. I realized that fact a long time ago, so for me self-sufficiency has never been much of a temptation. I know what Jesus said in John 15 is true of me—of myself I can do nothing (verse 5). If I’m going to do anything worthwhile, I have to abide in Jesus and be totally dependent on Him.

That’s why I rarely do anything in the mornings before I pray. My time with the Lord is so vital, I don’t leave home without it! I make a connection with God the very first thing and talk to Him about the day. If I have a business meeting, I want to know what He has to say about the issues we’ll be discussing at that meeting. I don’t want to go in there and be dependent on natural knowledge. If I am ministering, I have to be anointed by His Spirit, or I might as well stay home. God’s wisdom—His way of doing things—is available in every area of our lives.

As far as I’m concerned, I can’t afford to step out of the house before I’ve spent time with God.

“That’s necessary for you,” someone might say. “You and Kenneth are preachers. It takes the supernatural power of God to do what you do.”

Whether you know it or not, it takes the supernatural power of God for you to do what you’re called to do, too! Even if you’re not in the fivefold ministry God has a divine calling and purpose for you to fulfill. Ephesians 2:10 says that He has predestined or planned beforehand good paths for all of us to walk in and good works for us to do (The Amplified Bible).

But there is only one way we’ll ever be able to do them—by abiding in Jesus and communing continually with Him.

Jesus left no doubt about that. In John 15:4-5, He said: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

The word abide Jesus used in that passage has a sense of permanency about it. It doesn’t mean “to come in and go out.” It refers to the place where you remain and dwell continually.

When Ken and I travel, we might stay in a hotel for a week. We live there temporarily, but we don’t abide there. We abide in our home in Fort Worth, Texas. That’s where our belongings are. That’s the place we continually return to. That’s where we live.

When Jesus said, “Abide in me,” He wasn’t saying, “Visit Me when you go to church on Sundays and whenever you have a big problem.” He wasn’t talking about a sporadic or temporary arrangement. He was instructing us to make that place of dependency on Him and communion with Him the place we continually remain. He was telling us to make it our permanent dwelling place.

And He immediately told us why we must do that. It’s because if we don’t, we won’t be able to produce the proper fruit in our lives. If we’re not continually walking with Him and talking with Him—continually spending time in His Word and listening for His direction on the inside—spiritually we won’t be able to accomplish anything.

Laminated to the Lord

Once we understand the divine power that comes to us as we abide in Jesus, it is easy to see that if we want to live victoriously, we must first and foremost maintain our daily union and communion with Him. That is our most important responsibility.

If we will maintain that union, God will take care of everything else.

Unfortunately, however, many Christians do just the opposite. They become so busy maintaining the other things in their lives that they don’t take any time to spend with God. They spend their lives maintaining their houses, their lawns, their cars and their jobs. They even find time to maintain their hair and their fingernails. Yet they neglect the one thing that is vital to their lives and well-being. They neglect their union with God.

To be in union means to be joined together with something or someone. When two things are united with each other, they are joined so tightly together that they become like one substance. You might say they are laminated to each other!

“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word translated joined comes from the word meaning “to glue.” Laminated wood, for example, is glued so compactly that it is a single piece of wood.

When we don’t take time to fellowship regularly with the Lord, we don’t live as though we’re united with Him. Despite our best efforts, we end up doing things He wouldn’t do. We say things He would never say. We definitely aren’t laminated to Him.

That’s why spending time with God each day is so vital. It’s during that time we become unified with Him—not just in our spirits but in our souls. As we read and meditate on His Word or fellowship with Him in prayer, we begin to think like He thinks. We begin to act like He acts and talk like He talks.

As we spend more time with God, we become more familiar with His direction and instruction. As a result, we’re better able to distinguish His guidance moment by moment so that we can walk out the perfect will of God for our lives every day.

By spending time in fellowship with the Lord, we become so in tune with Him that when He tells us to do something, we hear Him and obey. We become so closely joined to Him that the desires of our heart, the thoughts of our mind, the words of our mouth and our every action become a reflection of the One with whom we are united.

A Tithe of Your Time

How much time should we set apart to spend with the Lord each day to cultivate that kind of union?

The Bible gives us no hard and fast rule. We must each be led by the Holy Spirit. There may be seasons in our lives when He draws us into extended hours of fellowship with Him. There may be seasons when our daily times with Him, while consistent, are not as long.

In a meeting I attended more than 20 years ago, a prophecy given by a minister I highly respect echoed that thought. He said by the Holy Spirit, if we would just take a tithe of our time—an hour or two out of every day—and spend it with God, our lives would be changed and empowered, all would be well, and we would be a mighty force for God.

When I heard that, I took God at His word. I decided to get up an hour earlier every morning, so I could spend time with Him before I began my day. That decision has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. It changed me and it changed my life. Now, spending the first part of my day in prayer and the Word is such a habit for me that even when Ken and I are traveling and I have to get up at 4 a.m., I do it because I am addicted. I must have my time with God!

Just as the Lord promised through the word of prophecy I heard more than 20 years ago, the hour or two a day I’ve spent with God has continually changed and empowered me. Instead of burning out in ministry, my fire for the Lord gets even stronger as the years go by. Everything is good in my life and the lives of my family. My children and grandchildren are healthy, blessed and serving the Lord. All is well, just as the Lord spoke by prophecy that day many years ago.

I’ve discovered for myself that what Jesus said to Martha is eternally true. The best part of the Christian life, the one thing that is truly needful, is time spent with Him. We can be assured of victory in every area of our lives if, through the Word and prayer, we’ll draw near every day and sit at the Master’s feet.