When I was in college, all the business majors had to read a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” The concept of the book is about two mice, or rats, (I never read the book), who are put into a maze. One of the rats is methodical and thoughtful and finds the quickest way to the cheese at the end of the maze. The other rat just sort of runs around until he finds the cheese. The methodical rat finds the quickest and easiest route to the cheese and follows it every time, until they move the cheese. So, again, the rat begins the process of finding the quickest route to the cheese while the other rat does what he’s always done, runs around until almost accidentally he stumbles on the cheese. The methodical rat again finds the cheese, figures out the quickest way to it and settles into his routine until they move it again. This time, he’s dejected and starves to death. Maybe that’s not how it ends. I don’t know. I told you I never read the book.
Anyways, whether you’re a methodical rat or an erratic rat, the cheese has been moved. If you’re like me, you need some habits and routines. Having the kids out of school, a number of people on quarantine, and our entire format for Sunday Services completely changed means my cheese has definitely been moved. In the internet age, one of the easiest things to do when our schedule is disrupted is just to fall into distraction. Whether it’s falling into a hole of social media, or 24 hour news outlets, watching the latest update on the coronavirus’ spread or our politicians inability to respond to it, or even endless entertainment on TV, our souls really weren’t made to feed on these things.
In the last week, I’ve adapted Tim Keller’s daily office from his book on prayer for my own use. Keller has three daily times of prayer, meditation, and bible study using M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan and selected adapted prayers of John Calvin (find the originals and more here.) I’m including it below with some of my adaptations for your use. Feel free to print out the pdf for your own use. Try it out, adapt it to what works best for you, and let me know how it’s working!
First, a word on applying it to yourself. Keller recommends 35 minutes for the morning prayers, 5 minutes for the afternoon prayers, and 20 minutes in the evening. He obviously has a better attention span than me, so I’ve shortened some of them, and give myself a bit more time and I may shorten them more as the days go on. Keller recommends 2 chapters from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s reading plan. Reading two chapters (basically half of M’Cheyne’s daily readings) would bring you through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in two years. I have been using the Digging Deep Through the Bible since I discovered it in the Literary Study Bible a few years ago, so I’ll stick with that but break it up through the day. It’s a reading plan that takes you through the bible once in a year. I’m reading one Old Testament and one New Testament reading in the morning, the psalm in the middle of the day, and the final Old Testament reading at night before I go to sleep. Whichever plan you choose, I would recommend choosing one that doesn’t overload you. If you aren’t used to daily bible reading, it’s best to have one that seems a little too lite and work your way up to more than to be overwhelmed, fall behind, and give up. ESV.org has just about every bible reading plan you can imagine. You can find M’Cheyne’s and a few more to print out here. Finally, Keller recommends praying and meditating through scripture. A great and classical guide for how to pray and meditate through scripture is Martin Luther’s ‘A Simple Way to Pray.’ You might just read the section on the Lord’s Prayer for noonday prayers.
What have you been doing during social distancing to draw closer to the Lord? Leave a note in the comments