Bible Memorization - Last year I read the bible in it's entirity. It was great in a lot of ways, but in one sense it was like going to an the best all you can eat buffett in Vegas. I didn't necessarily savor each bite. This year, I've focused more on reading smaller chunks and memorizing them. I started off by trying to do this for five minutes a day while I was in the shower (as opposed to Brad's use of five minutes in the shower). I started to see these changes in my life, in my thoughts and in my actions - all without me really thinking about it. I guess the G. Gordon Liddy's mantra, "What you think about you do, and what you do you become" is true. I find the verses I'm memorizing bouncing around in my head throughout the day and really impacting what I'm doing, saying and thinking. I'm back to do this again as part of the guy's discipleship group I'm leading this summer.
Solitude - My pattern in the summer has been to get up in the morning, grab some coffee, my breakfast and the newspaper while the house is still quiet. After the paper, I grab my Bible and my journal and whatever book I'm going through (right now it's a book on Discipleship by Dallas Willard) and take 30-45 minutes to read, journal and pray. I'm pretty consistent with this, except when I'm not. I've been doing this on and off for about 15 years and have a stack of journals that are one of my prized possessions. The biggest thing that's changed in this is incorporating silence into it. Not reading, not writing. Just sitting and listening quietly.
Silence - As I type on my MacBook Pro with Pandora and have my iPhone nearby, silence, either auditory or information silence, is tough. I'm a people person combined with the fact that I'm always surrounded by noise. I'm trying to leave my iPhone at home on my runs occasionally and just spend that time alone, thinking, reflecting and praying. In the mornings, as part of my time alone, I spend time quietly listening to God. It started with about 30 seconds before my thoughts would take me somewhere else. I'm getting better at listening longer, and in that silence, being able to hear the voice of God. I would get pretty uncomfortable at first in my silence, having to just be alone with my thoughts. I've gotten to the point where I've started to really enjoy it and be able to listen to my thoughts and have a very interactive dialogue with God. Might sound weird, but it's a very cool thing.
Fasting - This one has been the hardest for me. I've been trying to fast one day a week. In the fast I'd tried fasting, thinking that if I did it, God would see how devoted I was to Him and while being impressed with me, answer my prayers. My fasting is now about trying to train myself to not be as dependent on what my body tells me I need to eat, buy or do - to break the reflexes, while reminding myself and training myself of my dependence on God. I don't know that I've seen much progress. Fasting is just plain hard for me and it's only gotten slightly easier over the past few months. I'm a guy who indulges myself pretty easily with whatever I want and this is largely about denial. My body has no idea how to respond to me suddenly not giving it everything it wants exactly when it wants it. I will organize my day around getting a workout in, but it's impressive how I can find an excuse not to fast in a given day. I've learned a lot about my real priorities as I've tried to work this into my life.