My three-year-old Sunday School class is filled with strong personalities. Most of them are extroverted, assertive leaders, but one little girl in the group is very timid and soft-spoken. With a class of up to fifteen three-year-olds at a time, I have learned that developing intentional rhythms and habits is essential to keeping this exuberant class on track. So, we always try to start the morning off with the teachers and students sitting in a circle on the rug singing “Jesus songs,” such as “This Little Light of Mine” and “Jesus Loves Me.” When I asked for song recommendations a few Sundays ago, I was both delighted and surprised when the quietest student raised her hand to request a song for the first time.
“What song would you like to sing?” I asked her, leaning in so I could hear her soft voice.
Looking up at me with big eyes, she whispered, “This Girl Is on Fire.”
Obviously, this is not what I expected to hear! This song did not fall under the traditional category of “Jesus songs” we sing on the rug together, but it still made me smile as I held back a chuckle at her request—such a powerful song for a quiet little girl!
Practicing an intentional rhythm like singing songs every morning has helped the students learn how to listen to their teacher as well as feel comfortable talking and asking questions. Of course, when working with little ones and their short attention spans, the unexpected always happens—such as a surprising song request or an out-of-the-blue meltdown—so it’s also necessary to make space for spontaneity and moments that weren’t in the original plan. But since we practice these intentional rhythms every Sunday, they expect that after we sing songs, it’s time to listen to the story. I have seen how the kids have grown and matured each week—becoming more engaged listeners and questioners, in addition to retaining key parts of the story.
As God’s children, it’s important for us to also develop intentional rhythms so that we are posturing ourselves to grow and mature in relationship with Him. During the summer season, we often break from our routines and try something new, but integrating practical spiritual rhythms in everyday routines helps the bustling summer season feel natural and balanced. Here are a few practical tips to maintaining spiritual rhythms in the summer season:
- Evaluate your routine. This is an important first step as you enter into a new season. Feel like you’re in a spiritual rut? Summer is a great time to start something fresh by taking a break from routines that are clearly not working well. While maintaining established spiritual rhythms is important, you also want to make sure you are practicing rhythms that are working well. Evaluate what rhythms are strengthening your faith and keeping you connected to Jesus. Seek to maintain those. But you may also find that some of the rhythms you practiced in the winter season are not appropriate for the summer season. Perhaps you went through an in-depth study on the book of Revelation last winter, and you realize such an intensive study schedule will be difficult to maintain this season. Be realistic in your goals as you evaluate the season of life you’re in.
- Incorporate your prayer life into everyday rhythms. Prayer is essential for any season you’re in, but in a busy season, your prayer life may struggle. On the MARKED Podcast, Jackie Hill Perry recently shared something a mentor once told her, “Every time I brush my teeth, I pray for my husband because I know I’m going to do it every day.”1 Think of habits you practice every day, such as brushing your teeth, making your first cup of coffee, or getting dressed for the day, and try to integrate something specific you need to pray about into these daily rhythms.
- Write it down. When I write something down, I am so much more likely to follow through and do it. Whether it’s on a notecard taped to your bathroom mirror, in your journal, or on your calendar, write down the habits you want to practice to help you stay connected and grounded in your relationship with the Lord.
- Appreciate creation. The long days of summer often mean busier schedules and more time outside. Take advantage of that time in nature! I often find that my bedtime prayers lean toward prayers of petition, so I like to intentionally use walks outside as time to praise God. Being outside in God’s creation helps me naturally thank Him for the beauty around me.
- Listen to your Teacher. Summer is busy. Between graduations and weddings, ballgames and vacations, you may feel like the easiest and least noticeable thing to skip is your time alone with God. But intentionally being present and having your heart open to hearing His voice is so important as you grow in your faith. As you read His Word, take time to pause, be still, and reflect to hear His voice rather than rushing through your reading to check it off for the day. If you want to start a new Bible study rhythm this season, pray and consider what you would like to study and when the most effective time will be for you. Finding a small group community or sharing what you’re reading with your family is a good way to develop accountability as well as applying what you read to your daily life. As you practice a rhythm of intentionally setting aside time to read God’s Word, you will be able to better hear and understand His voice, even when you might not expect it!
Even in just the short Sunday morning class time I have with the three-year-olds, I am pleasantly surprised by what they remember and learn each week. At this age, they are like little sponges—absorbing information and making connections. As God’s children, we, too, should seek to soak up His Word and develop rhythms that help us intentionally listen to our Father and focus on His Word. As you apply these practical tips to your summer season, hopefully you will develop a better posture to hearing God’s voice and talking to Him in the new season ahead.
Erin Franklin is a marketing specialist on the Lifeway Women team. A graduate of Lipscomb University and a lifelong Tennessean, she enjoys a good ping-pong match, photography, and learning new things. You can connect with her on Instagram @erin_franklin and on Twitter @erinefranklin.
1. Jackie Hill Perry, “When You Pray | Jackie Hill Perry and Jen Wilkin,” produced by Lifeway Women, MARKED Podcast, April 3, 2023, 30:41, https://women.lifeway.com/2023/04/03/marked-when-you-pray-jackie-hill-perry-and-jen-wilkin/.