Although there is a lot of advice in this book about how to 'do' your quiet time with God, it definitely is not a sort of DIY work on meditation or prayer. It was written in the hope that it would be a help in not only developing our own prayer life, but also of becoming aware that God is with us all the time, not just during our Prayers, or our Coffee with God. Paul tells us to Pray at all times and the intention of this book is to help us understand what this means and then apply that to our everyday life. The aim of this book is to help each one of us to understand exactly what it is that God wants of us and then to do it by coming into such a deep relationship with Him. In the book we will look into many subjects all of which are in a way related to each other and so the different subjects are really only chapters dealing with one subject matter, notably our walk with God by making Him assume prime place in our lives. Let me make myself clear at the outset that although I'm no expert in “Christian Spirituality”, I do I invite you not to just ignore my suggestions, but to at least give them a chance and thereafter feel free to make up your own mind about them. The book is wide-ranging in an effort to show that nothing falls outside of our walk with Him but all of them can and will lead to an awareness of the Presence of God. Terry Hayward
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We rejoice because of what God has donethrough our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who has now made us God’s friends.
COFFEE WITH GOD
Copyright © 2013 Terry Hayward
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, or mechanical ( including photocopy, file or video recording, internet web sites, blogs, wikis, or any other information storage and retrieval system) without the prior written permission of the publisher or
Published in England
Abela Publishing Ltd.
Sandhurst, Berkshire, England
Email: [email protected]
ISBN 13: 978-1-909302-38-9
First Edition, 2013
All Biblical quotations are from the First South African
Edition of the GOOD NEWS BIBLE (Unless otherwise
specified) published in South Africa by the Bible Society
of South Africa.
This book is dedicated to the Glory of God
and with grateful thanks to Him.
As I write this foreword, I am reminded about my response to Terry when he mentioned that his book Wanderings with God was complete and submitted to his publisher. I had just submitted my own doctoral thesis in which I had tried to make meaning of my spiritual journey including my call to the ordained ministry. I joked and said well perhaps your next book should be about wandering about God’s Call. Well, here it is and I should have known that Terry would take up that challenge and I
am pleased to write this foreword.
Terry has a deep passion for God and God‘s people. I am one of at least four people who was
encouraged and guided by Terry as we discerned God’s call on our lives which for most us led to a deeper relationship with God and eventual ordination into the priesthood. I wrestled with my discernment of God’s call as a woman worshipping in an Anglican Church, in Southern Africa, in the early nineties for whom ordination to the priesthood had not been realised. I then was faced with moving home and parish amidst this turmoil. I joined the parish where Terry, a loving, caring yet challenging
priest, welcomed my family and I as parishioners. He was also able to guide me through the pains of responding to God’s call as a woman, wife, chemistry lecturer and mother in the only ‘coloured’ family in a parish and
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diocese which was still undergoing transformation due to the legacies of the Apartheid system and the ordination of women as priests.
Terry’s life and the influence and impact of the four words, trust, love, honour and obey captured in this book, have been a living testament to me, and I am sure to many others, of how we can respond to God’s call on our life. The reality of the contradictions, denials and tensions we face in discerning and responding to God’s call are dealt with in a sincere and meaningful manner.
May this book help to strengthen your relationship as a Christian. As you read this book may you be willing
and ready to deepen your relationship with God whom you love, with your neighbour whom you love and with yourself created and called by God in and to love.
Revd. Dr. Delysia Timm
Parish of All Saints, Bellair
Diocese of Natal, South Africa.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................... 4
DEDICATION .......................................................................... 5
CONTENTS .............................................................................. 6
PROLOGUE .............................................................................. 9
PREPARATIONS ................................................................... 15
GETTING STARTED ............................................................. 25
NEXT STEP ............................................................................. 35
MEDITATION ........................................................................ 41
CONVERSION ....................................................................... 53
LIVING PRAYER ................................................................... 71
GO TELL ................................................................................. 85
CONTENTMENT ................................................................ 101
DO YOU LOVE ME? ........................................................... 118
CHILDLIKE FAITH ............................................................. 125
OBEDIENCE ......................................................................... 136
WORK ................................................................................... 149
MARRIAGE .......................................................................... 164
RICHES ................................................................................. 175
GIVING ................................................................................. 187
SOLITUDE ............................................................................ 196
GOD CALLING ................................................................... 218
FAITHFULNESS .................................................................. 233
EPILOGUE – (THE DIY CHRISTIAN) ............................. 263
The Creation story is one that can be so full of meaning to us in oh so many ways. We hear there in the very first chapter (v. 31) that when God created us, you and me, we were created in His image, and He saw that it was very good. At first man and woman lived in peace and harmony, not just with nature, our surroundings and with each other, but also with God Himself. At that time
we are told that they walked with God and talked with
God, and that the human condition was in fact good – man and woman still had only goodness in them, or should I say they were in possession of a good core to their beings (Gen. 1: 25). This time in creation is known or symbolized by paradise and the Garden of Eden.
Unfortunately, then came the fall when we, both
man and woman, listened to the lies of the devil and tried
to become ‘like God’, forgetting that we were already made ‘in His image – made like Him’. This was the time when we invited into us the growth of a life of thorns, toil and pain that we had condemned ourselves to, in place of the inherent peace that God had wanted for us. Suddenly
this ‘good core’ of light that was born deep within us was covered up by a hard core of darkness as we developed our feelings of greed, jealousy, hatred, resentment, envy and the like. This succeeded in covering the inner core,
which nevertheless still remains there deep within each
one of us, to the extent that our hard outer core became
the way of life (Gen. 3: 1 – 24), and what today the Church refers to as ‘original sin’.
This new place we now find ourselves living in is, like paradise, a reality where most of us are quite content to live and move and have our being, basically because we
have chosen the forbidden sins of the flesh and the devil to
replace our natural spiritual tranquility. We have been led to believe that sin is much more fun than walking with
God because we feel He is not fun. But in order to reduce
this pain that comes with this new lifestyle, we have had
to build this hard layer to hide the good inner core as we go about our daily lives.
Like the workman who develops hard callouses on his hands to protect the more delicate flesh underneath, over time we too have developed a similar hard outer core covering our good inner core, we pretend to protect us from hurt. This hardened outer layer represents our inbuilt resistance to the suffering we have condemned ourselves to through our wayward lifestyle, it’s what we’d
call our ‘built in’ defence mechanism. And so we have
tended to choose a life of sin instead of a holy life, because
it’s more fun and enjoyable, in fact it’s simply easier to follow than to search for a way back to the true inner good
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Now we live our lives on the surface of our being where our inbred distaste of pain is in a constant war with
our longing for the ‘good life’ and this conflict keeps us cut off from our deep good core, cut off from the Garden of Eden, which is still hidden there deep within each of us. By our own folly we were evicted from the Garden of Eden and now an angel with flaming sword prevents us from re-entering the garden.
But thanks be to God, because He did not leave us
as orphans, but He came down Himself to live amongst us and be one of us to teach each of us that we can still go back and walk with, and talk with, God (Eph. 2: 6 - 12).
My hope and prayer is that this little book will help each one of us to develop our relationship with our God to that
extent we too will be aware of Him with us at all times
and thereby enabled to re-enter into that subdued good
core within us.
My wife and I recently spent some months in Canada with our son, daughter-in-law and new granddaughter. Probably my greatest memory of that trip was of our new little baby girl when she saw us each morning for the first time after she woke up. Her happy screech of recognition was filled with unsuppressed joy
and was just too beautiful for words. It well nigh broke my heart when we had to leave. When we returned home, our two grandchildren here in New Zealand who are both
much older, but still very much children, were more shy in their excitement to see us again, yet their barely restrained joy at being re-united with us was equally
memorable and welcoming. All three of our grandchildren’s attitudes reminded me very much of Nathaniel, who also expressed his heartfelt joy in meeting Jesus (Jn. 1: 49), and in whom we too found nothing false – their out and out, undisguised love for us was so real, almost tangible and unspoiled that we were both left in no doubt as to their true feelings for us.
Life is a journey and the final destination is what Paul repeatedly refers to as ‘union’ with Christ as we enter
into eternal life with Jesus and the Father. This means that
the route to that end must be making God take first place in everything in our lives. When we travel we mostly have a final destination, and we would usually have a map or some set of instructions on how to get there. In our life’s journey the map, or directions, is the Bible and this will undoubtedly lead us down many exciting, and sometimes even boring, roads. We will also find little detours along the way which might or might not aid our journey, they might be only of scenic interest, but at all times we must not forget our ultimate destination, which is simply unity
At times it will seem that God (our destination) is
incalculable miles away or that we have even lost our way,
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but always our map, the Bible, will be there if we will just pause awhile to seek directions. We need to remember
that all the gifts that God bestows on us during our lifetime are not our final destination, in fact they’re not even necessary to help us on our way; they are only gifts and not God Himself. God is all that matters and although God wants us to be happy and enjoy our lives on the journey (Jn. 10: 10), like Jesus we must never take our eyes off the destination, union with God!
Jesus attended parties and also was confronted by evil on His journey, yet as He walked this earth His eyes were at all times firmly fixed on His Father. He made sure
He spent quality time with His Father so as to keep His eyes firmly on His destination. My prayer is that this little book will assist you in becoming aware that He is with you every step of the way as you journey to that final destination to God Himself. God is very much in all those gifts, including the gift of being aware of His Presence with you at all times. But these gifts He continuously
showers on us must never be confused with the Giver. Let
us always keep in mind that God alone is our final
destination, and be aware of Him with us at all times.
Let’s now move on into the main contents of this
little book, keeping in mind at all times the words of that beautiful old hymn, “Jesus I have promised” (with thanks
to author J.E. Bode), with just one or two minor changes
made by me for the purpose of this book:
“O Jesus I have promised to follow to the end,
Be Thou ever with me, my Master and my Friend.
I’ll not fear the battle if You be by my side,
Nor wonder from the pathway,
If you will be my Guide.”
I chose the picture on the cover of this book (because I like it!) but mainly because it is a reminder to me, and I hope it will be a reminder to you too, that all too often we are too quick, with our cup of coffee still unfinished in our hand, to leave our quiet time to get on
with some work. I suffer from a work ethic that makes me
feel that if I’m not up and about and actually doing things, I’m not actually working. What I really need more than
anything else is to spend more time with God, enjoying my coffee with Him, rather than always being in a rush to get out and ‘do’. One of the purposes in my writing this book was to try to convince both me and you to take time out and sit with our God over a cup of coffee, and at the
same time come to realise that these coffee times with Him
are not a waste of time when we could be out there in the
world where we need to do things. After all Jesus Himself often found it necessary to take time out to be with His Father and so He would often go off alone to spend quality time with God (e.g. Mt. 14: 23).
The world we live in is a world of constant
change and we need to learn to change too and move with God’s changing times. I speak here not just of change merely for the sake of change, but changing as the seasons change which is all orderly. God has created spring to be a
burst of growth, summer to be a time of consolidating and then continuing that growth, autumn (fall) as a time when things start to shut down, even die, as they prepare for winter and the time of rest. Here we remember Jesus
telling us about the seed that must fall to the ground and die if it is to spring back into bringing new life (John 12: 24). We need to find God’s rhythm in our lives and as we do so, we will find that we have not only a daily rhythm but also rhythms that span time. And I firmly believe that it is in our coffee times, our quiet times, with God that we’ll find our rhythm.
The monks in a monastery know all too well this
need for constant change and we would do well to take their lives as an example for our own as we seek to
establish a rhythm in our own lives. All too often we see a monk’s life as one long monotonous and boring drudgery, the same sameness day in and day out, but this is definitely not the case. While I certainly don’t suggest that we all traipse off to join a religious order, I do suggest we take a leaf out of their book, so to speak. The monk has his day divided up into fixed periods of work (some work out in the fields some at more academic pursuits), study, which includes the Bible and related subjects, prayer (this
means private as well as corporate prayer where they will come together to say the office, sing/chant the Psalms and the like), and then too rest and recreation, which includes
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sleep. Of course it’s interesting to note that this word recreation is in fact two words joined together – re and create as we seek to do this to our lives. Without joining a monastery we too can divide our days up into similar periods, periods that will reflect our own personal lifestyle and I hope that by the time you reach the end of this little book you will have a better idea on just how to do this for yourself.
The first few chapters of Coffee with God are mostly about prayer and developing our relationship with God, but it is not really a ‘how to pray’ DIY sort of book, so much as a sharing of a lot of my thoughts and
experiences in these areas. A great teacher on prayer and prayer-life from the Scriptures is the Book of Psalms. Take for example Psalm 42 which acknowledges our longing for
the Presence of God as heart calls to heart, and Psalm 80
which calls to God to “listen to us”, to “reveal yourself” and
to “come and save us”. Both these Psalms are prayers, which, like all prayers, are not just ‘shopping lists’ of requests, but are prayers, which should help us connect to life. Both of these Psalms express a longing for God, but not simply in some sort of distant way, but by joining our own desires and longings to what is actually going on in
the world around us.
Everyone can pray and there is no one that cannot learn to pray, but all prayer should be an endeavour to
live a life of prayer, or as Paul says, ‘to pray at all times’ and so to make our lives an ongoing prayer. All prayer should not just be the short time we kneel to ask God’s blessings on us, but should be carried over into our regular daily lives as we face the boss at work, as we face the teacher at school and in fact just do what we do every day. Prayers are not meant to be something that is said, and is then over and done with, another duty for the day we can now put behind us. Nor may we regard our prayers as something we do to try to twist God’s arm to change His mind to our way of thinking.
All prayer is intended to be a part of life
and as such we must try to become aware of God’s Presence with us throughout the day and this takes a lifetime of hard work. Living a life of prayer means not just being aware of His Presence when times are tough and we ‘need’ Him, but it is something we must learn to take into our everyday, mundane and even boring lives. This can only occur under the inspiration and action of the Holy Spirit on our human spirits and for this to happen
we need to become aware of the subtle movement of the
Spirit in our everyday lives as we listen for those quiet whispers, murmurs, challenges and appeals as we go
about our normal days and respond to the people around
us and to daily events.
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Despite the minor controversy caused by my previous book, “Wanderings with God”, I still believe every word written there was ‘of God’ and the truth. Like
Paul (2 Cor. 1: 12) my conscience was clear and what I
wrote was “ruled by God-given frankness and sincerity, by the power of God’s grace, and not by human wisdom.” The book was not easy to write because I knew that many who would read it would not agree with some of the things I wrote and it was definitely not my intention to cause hurt to anybody who reads it. On the contrary, it was and is my prayer that anyone who reads it and feels hurt by what is written therein will under the direction of the Spirit of
God (Ezek. 26: 27) be led to the ‘truth’ (Jesus – John 14: 6).
Again, like Paul (2 Cor. 2: 4) in that book, “I wrote to you with a greatly troubled and distressed heart.”
This book however, while some very small parts might also be deemed a bit off the wall or unusual, I certainly write with a lighter heart and in the sincere belief
and hope that we’ll all enjoy our cups of coffee with God as we read and meditate on my writings. But, I still write it
because, as “The scripture says, ‘I spoke because I believed’. In the same spirit of faith, we also speak because we believe” (2 Cor. 4: 13). It is my hope and prayer that this book will make you sit up and think for yourself and like the Bereans you will not blindly accept what I write but will
carefully test, against the Scriptures, everything I have to say (Acts 17: 11).
Over the years my ‘quiet times’ with my God have developed and changed on a fairly regular basis, as I’m sure most of you have found in your own ‘quiet times’ with Him. As soon as I get comfortable with ‘doing’ my quiet time in a certain way, God comes along and changes things before I can become too comfortable and they become something of a ‘rote’, the sort of thing I do only for my own pleasure and not simply to spend time with Him. I like that old expression ‘elastic Christians’ because God stretches us so that we continue to grow and not get
caught in our comfort zones.
Many things have changed in my quiet times with God over the years as He pushes, and gentles, me into His path, but as I look back the one thing He has not changed (so far) is my enjoyment of a cup of tea, or a mug of coffee, with Him when I go into my quiet times. These times have consequently become my appointment with Him, or as I prefer to call them, my ‘coffee with God’.
During these times I have had such varying experiences, ranging from wrestling with Him when I was not enamored with what I perceived to be where or what
He was pushing me into, to those times when I had been feeling very hurt and fragile and He simply loved and nurtured me like a baby. There have been desert times too
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when I felt that He had left me to my own devices, probably as some sort of disciplining, to those times when
He has re-assured me of His Presence with me and His
unconditional love for me. In retrospect, every way in which He has dealt with me has proved to be exactly what I needed at that particular time.
I will no doubt pass on to you suggestions as to how to organise your quiet times with God, but I need to underline the fact that I really do believe that there is no ‘best’ way for everyone – God is not a ‘one size fits all’ God. Each one of us has to listen to advice from others,
particularly those more ‘knowledgeable’ and experienced
in these things than ourselves, and try them out if we believe that they will be of help. But you need to
remember that the best Teacher will be God Himself. He
will undoubtedly use a few fellow pilgrims to influence you on your way, but He will also use circumstances to gently nudge you into His way, and in all these movements you need to be open to His leading. By all means, try new methods of praying and give different techniques a chance, but the best advice I can give you is to make sure you are serious about spending time with God, hopefully over a cup of coffee, and then by trial and
error under the Spirit’s guidance work out what will suit
Know for sure that God loves you more than you could ever imagine, after all He died for you before you were even born. It is that unsurpassable, unconditional
and incomprehensible love that you will come face-toface- with when you commit to a regular mug of ‘coffee with God’. I want to start you off by sharing with you a verse from the Scriptures that means everything to me and which I hope will give you an idea of your inestimable value in God’s eyes. It comes from a particular translation (Good News Bible) of verse 2 from Psalm 29 and reads as
“Praise the LORD’S glorious name;bow down before the Holy One
in His beautiful Temple.”
I have highlighted the words ‘beautiful Temple’ because you and I are that beautiful Temple! Believe this because Paul (1 Cor. 6: 19) tells us
“Don’t you know that that
your body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit”?
God finds you beautiful even if you find that hard
to believe, so beautiful in fact that He made you His Temple. He finds you so beautiful that He died for you,
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and now in the person of the Holy Spirit He lives in you, in the Temple He made you into. This God who is Love, who lives in you, who finds you exquisitely beautiful, wants to have coffee with you and invites you to ‘come to tea’ with Him regularly (Luke 14: 21).
My quiet times have now become my times for ‘coffee with God’ and I invite you to listen in to a few of my ‘tea parties’. From the above I’m sure we all agree that our bodies are holy because the Holy Spirit chooses to live in them, but just think of this. We can become too involved in caring for our own bodies, admittedly the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, that we will neglect
caring for our brothers and sisters who are also Temples of this same Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament Book of the Prophet Haggai we see that this Prophet warns the people of Israel that they are taking too much time working on their own houses that they have allowed the Temple of God to become ruined (Hag. 1: 4). And no matter how hard the people work, things just don’t come right for them as we see repeatedly in verses 5 – 7 we read over and over again, “You have…but not enough.” Then in verse 6 God asks, “Can’t you see why this has happened?” The answer He gives very simply is this, “Now go…rebuild the Temple; then I will be pleased and will be worshipped as I should
be.” We are to take extreme care not to spend so much
time on our own affairs that we neglect our neighbours,
and possibly even worse, we neglect the things of God.
Let me make myself clear at the outset that although I’m no expert in “Christian Spirituality”, I do I invite you not to just ignore my suggestions, but to at least give them a chance and thereafter feel free to make up your own mind about them. Remember that they are only suggestions and I offer you what works for me, so these might not necessarily work for you. This ‘getting started’ chapter is really where I will deal with practical matters,
you know the suggestions of what’s the best time to start your quiet times, the best place to sit, or even whether or not sitting is your best bet. Even if you’re an old hand at these things I’d encourage you not to skip this chapter but rather grit your teeth and soldier on. You might just find something that will suddenly spark up something for you, maybe even, like I’ve so often found, something I’ve always known but which never really clicked home properly.
Prayer is not an attempt to produce a spiritual high as we become aware of His Presence with us, but this
could arise out of the silence we seek because in our times
of coffee with God, it is in silence that we’ll find Him (Is.
30: 15). We will come to realise that He is Someone we can
rely on and our hearts will learn to recognise His voice assuring us of His love in the midst of our doubts and
sufferings. There will be times when we forget Him but in these quiet times we will become aware that He never
forgets us. There will be times when we are not aware of His Presence with us, but over the years as we persevere with these quiet times, the times when we are aware of His Presence will become sweeter and more frequent.
I truly love St. Peter because I see so much of myself in him, I can really identify with him. Not the ‘rock’ on which He ‘built’ His Church Peter, but that part of him, the ‘poor guy who always has the best intentions but still manages to get it wrong’ type of person. St. Paul, on the other hand, I find quite intimidating because of his
deep spirituality and education and that’s probably the
reason I find him so difficult to understand sometimes.
But I am so grateful to him for this one particular sentence in Romans (4: 11b) where he says,
“We rejoice because of what God has done
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who has now made us God’s friends.”
This was obviously something I had read many times without it registering but later on, when God needed me to hear Him, it suddenly hit me and went home. This Lord of lords and King of kings, this Holy One whose robe filled the Temple and whose Presence filled
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the Temple with smoke; He was and is now my Friend! And this not because of anything I’ve managed to do, in fact it’s in spite of what I’ve done! Jesus did it all for me
and because of this I’m now His friend. I can enter His
Presence with ‘boldness’ because of the Blood of Jesus
(Heb. 10: 19). Coming to this realization made the world of difference in not only my prayer life but also in my relationship with this Mighty God who is my Friend now. One possible problem you must avoid, though, is becoming too ‘pally-pally’ with God. Just because He is now your Friend doesn’t give you licence to treat him like your rugby buddies down at the club. He’s still God
This revelation that I am now God’s friend, first
started me thinking that my quiet times were actually my
‘coffee with God’ times, or as the secular world love to
say, a time to ‘catch up’. I have always enjoyed having tea (very often coffee) with my wife and when she gave up work many years ago, she took to bringing me a cup of coffee early in the mornings when I went into my study for my quiet times. I then put two and two together and the quiet time, plus my cup of coffee, turned into and became my ‘coffee with God’ time.
Right, let’s get the show on the road, as the saying goes. The most important thing for you to do then, and
this is vital, is to come to terms with that word ‘commit’,
which is a word generally frowned upon nowadays with our modern ‘freedoms’ to please ourselves. Do not give yourself permission to feel free to take what I’ve just said with a pinch of salt if you so choose, because you have to commit to a daily time of prayer and being quiet before God, my ‘coffee with God’ time. For us retired folk this might appear easy but for those still working, you might well have to commit to much more than just spending time every day with God. You might well have to commit to getting up half an hour earlier each day to make that time for Him. But make this a commitment of love and try not to see it as drudgery and taking up your cross daily.
This time with God will, I promise you, become a highlight of your day and can make whatever a day has to throw at you more bearable.
It’s also vitally important to not put off a decision to have your regular quiet time with God. Work out what time of day would be best for you, then commit to it and stick to it. All you guys out there would be quite prepared to sit for ages in a room with Miss World, just the two or you. You certainly ‘find’ the time to watch the Rugby Championships. I bet that at these times you’d be in no hurry to rush away and do all those other “important”
things that you keep thinking about during your quiet time. And all you women, I bet you’d have not problem sitting quietly with the likes of Brad Pitt without needing
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to hurry off to other “obligations”. So why are we so prone
to short change God?
This reminds me of the father who is a workaholic.
He keeps promising his children that soon he’ll take time off from the office and they’ll all go for a picnic. Of course, despite the children’s nagging, this never happens. One day the father overhears the children discussing the departure of the old neighbour in a hearse as he rushes into the room just in time to see the hearse driving away from the neighbour’s home and he asks them what’s happening.
“Oh,” the son replies, “Its just old Mrs. Smith –
she’s just died but one thing I’m sure of; she’s not going on a picnic!” Don’t keep promising to start your quiet times, tomorrow may be too late, so get started today.
The next thing to do is decide what time will work best for you. There’s no best time for God because He’s always there, ready and eagerly waiting for us to pop in for a so-called catch up. I certainly find it best to have a set time because that is part of what commitment means to me. Being now in the fortunate position of not having to juggle work times, I have found that my daily prayer times and all that that means, have actually become more
of a temptation to me to sometimes cheat and not to have
a set time, than it was before I retired.
A set time means you’re serious about this intention to spend quality time with your God, but do not become inflexible. Family and friends must be made aware that this is your time with your God and that you shouldn’t be interrupted unless in the case of an emergency. If you’re traveling you can often sit back in your plane/car/train seat and enjoy your time with God without making a big song and dance about it. But if this is a problem, for example if you need to concentrate on you driving, I’m sure God understands and it will make both of you (you and God) look forward to your next session together with even greater anticipation, and of
course there’s certainly no reason not to chat away to God while you’re driving.
Next, you need to find a place where you will be comfortable and have a reasonable expectation of being undisturbed for the whole of your time period with God. You might like to try out a few different places before you eventually settle on ‘your place’, but the important thing is to settle on a place and stick with it. My special place is my study where I know that the family will tiptoe around me and grant me my space and quiet. There might be occasions when you have to change places, but this should
be the exception and not the rule.
A few years ago while my wife and I were staying in a very small house with my newly married son and his
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wife, I could find no quiet place inside the house and so I
had to settle for using our car, which was parked next to the property fence. The car became very special to me because of the memories of those quiet times it elicits in me every time I get into it. Your special place will also become very special to you and you’ll find that just any time simply walking into you space will bring a sense of peace to you, even before you actually sit down and get on with your ‘coffee with God’ time.
How to sit, what to sit on or in, and what position to adopt are the area in which I personally have the most disputes with the so-called experts and gurus. So many
‘experts’ insist that to meditate properly we should adopt the cross-legged lotus position. Now I have a gammy leg and whenever I have tried to get into the lotus position I experienced the most excruciating pains imaginable. Yet those same ‘experts’ tell me that I should be comfortable when sitting for meditation so I’m pretty sure God does not insist on me trying to sit in that position. Go figure!
In the beginning I tried to force myself to get into this position but when I couldn’t get comfortable because of the pain, I gave it up and instead propped myself up on the floor on cushions. This was slightly better but, given
time, my rear end would become numb and various joints would start to complain as well and so would interfere
with my concentration. I stuck it our manfully until I read
in a book about Zen where one of the Zen masters
explained that the reason those Eastern adherents sat in
these weird positions, was because that’s the normal way for them to sit, not just during times of meditation but also during the day! What a revelation this was to me! Out went the cushions and up I went onto a chair.
I then learned that the chair should have a square back (such as a dining room chair, preferably a padded one) so that one could keep one’s back in a straight and upright position to keep the back from getting tired. This certainly made sense so I went with it. I try to keep my feet flat on the floor and the back of my legs flush with the
chair’s seat so as to take pressure off the feet and legs because any pressure on any part of your body will become most unpleasant and distracting and can eventually also lead to pain. The main imperative I learnt
in most books is the need to be comfortable and so that
became my mission, a painfree time. (I’m writing this in
brackets because I have a confession to make. At one time
I no longer sat in an upright chair but instead changed to an old inherited rocking chair instead as I found this most comfortable, yet I still supported my back with cushions and prevented it getting tired and breaking my
concentration. Blame it on my age! Eventually I felt guilty about being too relaxed so I reverted to my usual upright
COFFEE WITH GOD
chair.) Be careful, though, that you don’t become so comfortable that you doze off!
I don’t want you to think that I’m laying down my suggestions as rules and regulations. These ideas on sitting are merely my suggestions, which are, however, based on many years of personal, and teaching, experience. Having said that, I need to re-iterate that you should try them all over a period of time and then go for what works for you. One thing, though, that I can’t over emphasize sufficiently is the need to sit straight and upright. Just think about this for a moment.
When you are feeling depressed or down in the
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