Milk and Honey Magazine guest writer Maribeth discusses how to keep a Christ-centered life as a young woman through prayer, reading the Bible, aanddd...

Cultivating a Christ-Centered Lifestyle

Maribeth Barber

Your alarm goes off and you hit the ground running. You grab a cup of coffee, slam down some breakfast, and scramble out the door for another day of breathless, non-stop activity. School, family, work, friends, Pinterest—all of them demand your time and attention. By the time the day is done you’re lucky if you’ve spared a thought or two for more heavenly things, let alone gotten through the evening without retreating completely into your phone.

Does this sound familiar? Our culture is obsessed with busy-ness, and no one is immune. I lead a very quiet life by some standards, yet even I fall into the trap of believing my productivity determines my worth…or worse, that I really can’t spare the time or the mental energy to “set the Lord always before me” (Psalm 16:8).

But as Thomas Moore writes in his introduction to The Rule of Saint Benedict, modern life “is not in accord with the fundamental needs of the human heart.” Christians, redeemed by the saving blood of our loving Savior, require time and space with Him! And by ignoring Him amid the rat-race of 21st century life, “we wound our need for emotional quiet and for meaning.”   

“That’s all very well and good,” you ask, “but in this loud and demanding world, how do I nurture my relationship with Jesus? What are some practical steps for spending quality time with Him without neglecting my responsibilities?”

Well, my friends, I have some good news! We’re hardly alone in this dilemma. In fact, Christians throughout the ages—especially the monastics of the Early Church—wrote extensively on this topic. Their strict traditions often seem strange and foreign to many of us, especially those with an evangelical, American background—but whether you’re Catholic or Protestant, one thing is for certain: they knew the importance of cultivating Christ-centered rhythms in their daily routines.

By applying some of these time-tested rituals, we can develop alternative ways of living that foster peace, love, goodness, and a closer walk with Jesus! They’re not meant to be hard-and-fast rules, but patterns which we can adjust for our own situations, schedules, and convictions.

Spend Some Time Reading the Bible Each Day. According to Psalms 119:105, God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Without its supernatural guidance, we’d all be fumbling in the dark. Take the time to spend a few minutes reading the Bible at some point—any point—during the day. It doesn’t have to look like the traditional “morning quiet time.” You can read a chapter or two at night before you go to bed, if that’s what your schedule allows. But do make this a priority, dear friends. The Bible is the Lord’s love letter to us, and it has something to say about every area of our lives.

Prayer. Saint Benedict (480-546 A.D.), founder of the Benedictine Order, taught that intimate, personal communication with the Lord is one of the defining characteristics of the Christian life. Prayer, however, doesn’t come easily to all of us. After years of struggling in this area, I’ve found great comfort in resources such as the Book of Common Prayer (as well as some really beautiful apps based on it!). Far from making my prayer time rote or wooden, these old, Scripture-saturated prayers give my own petitions some structure and clarity.

Worship. It’s easy to limit ourselves to personal requests during our prayer time. After all, we have plenty of burdens to cast on the Lord! But let’s not forget to spend some of that time expressing our gratitude, awe, and love to Him, as well. Many of the ancient prayers of the Church end with the Gloria Patri: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.” Try offering these beautiful words to the Lord as an expression of worship throughout your day!

Spiritual Reading. This is just an old-fashioned term for “devotional reading.” There are some wonderful devotional books out there, from Joni Eareckson Tada’s Pearls of Great Price to Sally Lloyd Jones’ The Story of God’s Love for You to Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. By investing a little time in books like these, we’re able to glean wisdom and encouragement from wise, loving Christians who’ve come before us.

Meditation. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary describes meditation as “engaging in contemplation or reflection.” This is what it means to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), and it may very well be our most important weapon in fighting the helter-skelter madness of our everyday lives. While you wash dishes, change a diaper, wait on the printer, or drive home from work, take a moment to breathe, ponder whatever you last read in your Bible or devotional, and offer up a quiet prayer of thanksgiving or supplication.

Jesus Himself knew the value of peaceful time with God. How many times do the Gospels tell us that He went up onto the mountainside to pray? He even taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13) and promised peace and rest to everyone who comes to Him, weary and heavy-laden (Luke 11:28-30). Let’s develop habits that help us draw closer to Him in this new year, confident in the promise that He will not forsake those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10)!

Maribeth Barber is a small-town Southerner captivated by well-spun tales, the lovingkindness of her Savior, and the power of the contemplative life. She is the author of a weekly blog where she reviews movies, books, and television from the perspective of a Christ-saturated imagination ( When she isn’t blogging or writing stories of her own, she can be found reading, baking, or collecting figurines of her favorite fictional characters on her family’s hobby farm in southeast Louisiana.