Category Archives: God
It has been on my heart recently to host a “God Gathering” – a place where people can gather to seek the Lord. In the old days, people referred to this as “tarrying in the presence of the Lord”. It’s not exactly a prayer meeting – I’m not sure what to call it so I call it a “God Gathering”. 🙂
I have hosted many of these over the years and it occurred to me last night that there may be someone who doesn’t know how to do this so here’s how I do it – in case it might inspire someone else to host a God Gathering of their own!
- Make sure you are hosting the God Gathering for the right reasons. The Holy Spirit is usually the one who initiates the invitation by putting it on my heart to host one. You do not want to do this just because you feel like it – it won’t work. I had a friend call me one time and ask me to host one for her. I had a feeling she was motivated by emotion more than by the Spirit because she seemed upset and hosting the meeting was a reaction to her emotional turmoil. She contacted a bunch of people and twelve of them said they would come. I prepared for it, but I had this sense that this was an empty endeavor. Sure enough, the day for the meeting arrived and she was the only one who showed up. We sat together, quietly talking. When it became obvious that no one else was coming (not even other spiritual leaders, pastors, etc. that had promised to come), I told her I had a sense that it just wasn’t the right time. She agreed and went home. This was a clear object lesson for me – don’t be tempted to do this on your own. Wait for His timing.
- Prepare the environment. I usually do this by cleaning the room where we will be meeting and playing some soaking music softly in the background. I often do this a few days before and just let the music keep playing. My brother used to tell me he could tell the angels liked it when he left the soaking music on. I’m not aware of that but it does help your mind to focus on the Lord every time you hear the music. Some suggestions for soaking music are here.
- Send out an invitation and make sure people are clear on why you are hosting this meeting. You want to make sure that the people who are coming are sincerely wanting to connect with the Lord. This is not just a social gathering. If parents ask, I don’t usually include young children because it’s hard for them to sit still (though I have seen some children who really like these kinds of meetings, but it is rare). You want an environment with no distractions.
- Prepare the spiritual environment. Once the people have gathered and greeted each other, I turn down the lighting to signal that it’s time to begin. Then I pray some specific prayers to prepare the spiritual environment and our hearts for an encounter with Jesus.
- Pray over the room, asking the Lord to wash it and commanding everything else to leave. For example, “Lord, thank You for meeting with us. We are here for You. Would You please wash off this room and remove anything that does not belong here? No spirits of the enemy are allowed to stay here – leave now, in Jesus’ name.”
- Pray over the people, asking the Lord to wash us off and remove any distractions from hindering our time with Him. For example, “Lord, I ask that You wash us off from all that we’ve picked up today. Would You please draw us close to You? Open our hearts and minds to hear from You. Please remove any distracting influences during our time together.”
- Invite the Holy Spirit to come. Yes, the Lord is already there, but there’s something about this step that prepares YOU to hear from Him. For example, “Holy Spirit, we invite You to come. You are welcome in this place. Please increase our awareness of Your presence.” There’s a difference between the omnipresence of God and the tangible manifest presence of God. We are seeking His manifest presence.
- Invite Wisdom and Revelation. For example, “Wisdom and Revelation, come. We welcome you. We invite you to speak to us and show us God’s glory and goodness.” I don’t know how this works, but I know that when I do this it shifts the atmosphere. Some say these are specific angels that are released to minister – others say these are aspects of the Spirit of the Lord. Either way, you are welcoming them to reveal the Lord’s goodness and glory. I don’t have to understand it for it to work (like electricity, right?). Childlike faith is simple and powerful.
- Wait expectantly. At this point, I often turn the music up just a little bit so we can hear it and drown out any other sounds. It helps us to focus without distraction. Often the presence of the Lord has been building with each prayer of invitation spoken so now we just enjoy Him. I often find a smile bursting on my face because He’s HERE in such a tangible way – I am so happy to be with Him. Sometimes I whisper my love and worship to Him – trying not to distract anyone, but at the same time honoring who He is to me. Others may also whisper their love and worship. 🙂 Some people sit, some lay down on the floor, some kneel – each one is free to do whatever feels comfortable for them. (I have tile floors so when I host these, I often put big cushions on the floor and some fluffy throw rugs for people to lay on, if they want to.) Sometimes people pace at the end of the room – that’s okay too. It’s important for each person to be free to be themselves. I also make sure there is paper and pens on the coffee tables in case anyone needs to write what the Lord is saying to them, especially if they wish to give it to someone else.
- Receive from His presence. Just being together in God’s presence is incredibly refreshing and healing. We often just sit quietly and soak up His presence. No one is moving or talking – just being together. Letting God be God.
- Ask people to share. After a time of waiting on God, I will often feel prompted to lower the music a little bit and then I ask, “Would anyone like to share what the Lord is showing them?” One by one people share what the Lord shared with them – it could be a Scripture verse, a new insight into His goodness and care, a word, a song or a vision. Scripture says, “When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all learn from each other.” I Corinthians 14 The Message.
- Respond to each thing that is shared. This is really important and some people miss this. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying through each person who shares. Acknowledge what has been shared (thank the person) and then ask the Lord if there’s anything that needs to be done. I am often doing this internally while the person shares, asking the Lord to direct us. Sometimes it is obvious – perhaps something the person shares relates to a current event that needs to be prayed for. Ask that person to lead in prayer, others can join in after they pray. Usually the person who gets the insight or revelation has the authority to pray it out. If someone gets a word of knowledge or word of wisdom for an individual in the meeting, they should offer to minister to that person. Maybe they need prayer – but don’t force it. Ask them first. Sometimes it is not obvious right away what the Lord is saying but after 2-3 people share, you might see a theme emerging that guides you. Ask the Holy Spirit – in fact, I often just stop everything and say out loud, “Holy Spirit, what do You want us to do with this?” and we all just wait. If you don’t hear or sense anything, then just move to the next person who wants to share.
- Pray for each other. After everyone has had a chance to share what the Lord showed them, ask if anyone needs prayer. If there are many needs and time is running out, break up into pairs or groups of three and pray for each other. This is so important – we have no idea how much the people around us are in need until we ask. Asking for prayer requests tends to open people up like nothing else does – this is often the most precious part of these gatherings as people feel safe enough to be vulnerable and transparent about their pain and struggles. This is the body of Christ loving on one another – first we love God and receive His love, then we love one another. ❤
- Close in prayer. You’d think you could skip this step since so much prayer has been going on all night, right? But there’s something about “closing” that feels right. For example, “Lord, thank You so much for meeting with us tonight. We enjoy Your presence so much! Thank You for all You did tonight. We ask that You seal these prayers and all that happened here. We love You.”
I have not encountered too many church meetings that follow this format. But every time I follow it, the Lord comes powerfully and everyone leaves very happy, refreshed and blessed.
I wonder if you could do this virtually. Could you have an online God Gathering using video chat? What do you think? Would it work?
Is there anything you do that helps you and your friends connect with God? Please feel free to share it. I love new ideas!
Last night a young lady called me. She’s in a very sticky situation.
She is currently separated from her husband. A young man from church started pursuing a relationship with her. She’s not interested in him romantically and has made that clear. But they are talking and becoming friends due to their common interest in the things of God.
She told me, “I’m trying to free myself from this guy. I just want to focus on my relationship with Jesus and healing my heart! But for some reason, I keep feeling like I’m forced to be his friend and maybe more some day. I’m praying and praying, but I can’t get any peace. What can I do?”
Whew! That’s tough. When you are praying and yet don’t see the results you had hoped for, what can you do?
We talked for some time. She’s been growing rapidly in hearing from God and learning His ways.
One thing she said that caught my attention – “feeling forced” to be his friend.
I asked her about it. She said she feels this pressure and she wonders if it’s God or not. She’s afraid to cut things off with him because she’s not sure if maybe God WANTS her to be friends with him.
I told her that there’s a big difference between following the leading of the Lord and the feeling of being forced or pushed.
I sent her this chart I made to help her discern when it’s God voice or some other voice.
She immediately replied:
“Wow, I havent realized how much of the other voices I’ve been listening to because I wasn’t sure whether they were from God or not. It’s so clear now.”
I know this chart has helped me – sometimes when we feel unclear about something and especially if our emotions are involved, this can help bring clarity about exactly whose voice we are following.
Some charts I’ve seen contrast God’s voice to Satan’s voice. I chose to contrast God’s voice to “other voices” because sometimes that voice is our own! We are sometimes our own worst enemy – we tell ourselves what we “should” be doing, using guilt and manipulation to get ourselves to do things. Sometimes that “other voice” is someone in our lives giving us advice or telling us what we should do. This chart can help us figure out whether what they are saying lines up with the Lord’s voice. And yes, sometimes that “other voice” is the enemy, Satan, whispering things into our minds (which sounds like our own thoughts).
I encouraged her to keep that chart somewhere she could refer to it frequently. You might want to do the same.
So how do you know when it’s God’s voice versus Other voices? Feel free to share your experience below. What advice would you have given her?
One of the ways God speaks to us is through dreams. Has this ever happened to you?
How can you tell when it’s God speaking to you? Sometimes it is obvious and other times, you might not be so sure.
Here’s a dream I had recently where it was obvious to me that God was speaking to me.
I dreamed that I was in a house. I picked up some papers from my father’s desk. It was an article that I was interviewed for back in 1993. My father was coming down the hall toward the room I was in and we were talking about the papers. As soon as he was in the room, we heard a loud noise and wind started blowing very strongly. I realized it was a tornado and immediately my father and I went toward each other. We grabbed each other’s arms so we wouldn’t get separated in the storm. He said something but the storm was so loud, I couldn’t hear him. The wind died down for a few seconds and I heard him say, “Would you turn …” but then the wind increased and I couldn’t hear the rest. I said, “What?” really loud, trying to be heard above the noise. He spoke again, “Would you turn your head so I can tell you I love you?”
This time I heard him clearly. I suddenly realized I had lost some of my hearing in my left ear. This surprised me because I didn’t know this and he did. When I turned my right ear toward him, I heard him clearly – he was so close I could feel his breath as he spoke.
Immediately I woke up – my husband had awakened me because it was time to go to a doctor’s appointment for him to be cleared for surgery.
I knew this was a dream from God. How did I know?
- I remembered the dream in detail. When God wants to speak to us in a dream, then obviously we will remember it clearly. Many times I remember little bits and pieces of a dream, but when I can clearly remember the whole dream in detail, I pay attention. God may be speaking to me.
- The dream involved my father. From my personal experience with God, whenever I dream about my natural father, it represents God, my heavenly Father. That may not be true of everyone – this is just how God relates to me.
- There was a clear message – God wants me to know that He loves me. The feeling I had when I woke up stayed with me all day. It was more than just a natural father’s love – it had a depth and completeness to it that is hard to describe. I felt embraced by this love in my entire being – it created not only comfort but a strong sense of security and protection. I was safe and cared for in His love!
- I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream all day long. Many times when God is trying to get your attention, He will make sure the dream stays fresh in your mind until you get the entire message.
There are many layers of interpretation in this dream as it relates to my personal life. One obvious one for me was the timing of the dream. I had it on the day my husband was going to doctors appointments to be cleared for major surgery. What perfect timing to be reminded that God has been with me in the past during turbulent times and He is with me now. And He loves me – He will take care of us. ❤
I have also heard that often dreams from God involve bright colors – you’ll remember a specific color that was in your dream (i.e. someone was wearing a green shirt or you saw a red stop sign). I don’t recall any specific colors in this dream. It has been my experience that color does play a role – if I have a difficult dream that is all in shades of gray and black, it is often a revelation of the strategy of the enemy. I pay attention to those too and ask the Lord what I need to know. It may reveal what is happening in the unseen realm regarding me, my family or something happening in my region or nation. Often He will show me something I need to be praying about.
Sometimes dreams are confusing – the best thing to do is simply ask God to show you what He is saying, if the dream is from Him. Meditate on any themes or feelings you had in the dream. Sometimes you’ll get greater clarity if you take the time to write it down or tell it to a friend. But if no insight comes, don’t worry about it. God has ways of getting your attention. He’ll get the message through to you one way or another!
Have you ever had a dream that you knew was from God? What did it tell you? How did it help you? Feel free to share it with us below.
At 1:30am, I awoke to the voice of God. It surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it – I had been deeply asleep.
How do I know it was God?
- It came out of nowhere. I didn’t initiate this.
- It was full of compassion and love.
- It was a complete thought instantly – an immediate download of information that came with such sudden depth of understanding that I did not have before it came. It was instant insight that took me 9 paragraphs to record in my journal.
What did it “sound” like?
Like my own voice in my thoughts. But I knew it wasn’t MY thoughts for several reasons.
- I couldn’t have made this up. This was entirely new insight that I didn’t have before.
- It was not a logical progression of thoughts, one by one, like what normally happens when I am trying to figure something out. It was like a waterfall of instant understanding. (Like Neo in The Matrix receiving instant information about how to fly a helicopter.)
- I was asleep and was awakened just as it started. That’s not normally the way my mind works. It takes me awhile to wake up and start thinking clearly.
- It was full of love and compassion.
- It started with, “It’s not what you think it is …” Why would I say that if it was my own thoughts?
I write this as an example for those who are unfamiliar with hearing from God. There are times like this where you KNOW it’s God. It’s not always this clear. And that list of how I know it was God is not a checklist – it doesn’t always happen that way.
What IS pretty consistent is the waterfall of new insight – to me that’s a clear indication that I’m hearing from God. You can’t make this stuff up. And if the insight is connected with selfless love and compassion, you can’t go wrong. Some people tell me they are hearing from God, but I wonder about that when it’s not leading them toward Love.
Always look for the Love – the insight should come with love, or move you toward greater compassion. That’s the litmus test of authenticity that you are hearing from God. Look for the Love! ❤
One of the elements of the unseen realm is the Favor or Blessing of God. Here’s a short story as an example.
A close friend of my husband had a grown daughter. She became very troubled mentally and ended up homeless after she lost her job. Her mother (our friend) drove across the country to find her and bring her home to live with her. The daughter was in her forties. The mother was retired and worked two part-time jobs to make ends meet.
She lived with her mother for two weeks. The mother worked hard to help her get the help she needed, but the story ended tragically. One morning the mother got up and looked for her daughter. She had hung herself from the tree in the corner of the yard. The police found evidence from receipts in her room that she had been planning this for at least a week.
We were shocked and dismayed. Our friend was beside herself. Family rallied around her. They had the body cremated and were planning to have a memorial service later that month. They even offered to chip in some money to help her have the tree removed. She couldn’t afford to pay for it herself. It was a large tree and would cost about $1000 or more to remove.
The week for the memorial came and the family all backed out. Suddenly no one wanted to have a memorial and they no longer offered their financial support in removing the tree. Our friend was crushed. She was miserable – you can imagine the pain she was experiencing. She gave up her hope that the tree could be removed – it would remain a daily reminder of her daughter’s tragic end. She couldn’t even bear to look in that direction of her yard when she let the dogs out.
My husband and I were upset that her family deserted her in a time like this. We discussed it and we both felt strongly that we were supposed to be “family” to her and help her. We gave her the money to cut down the tree. She cried when she realized what we were doing. It renewed her hope and she scheduled the tree removal immediately.
Five days later my husband got an unexpected check in the mail from a legal settlement that had been resolved years ago. The timing was impeccable. We had no idea this was coming. We gave $1000 and received $1155.46. No only were we “reimbursed” fully, we received 15% interest on our “investment” in human kindness! Isn’t that cool?
I call that the Favor or Blessing of God. He moved our hearts to give and already supplied the check in the mail before we had even given the money away. He’s so sneaky like that! We call him Jehovah-Sneaky. 🙂
Do you have a story of God’s Favor or Blessing that you would like to share? Please feel free to post it in the comments! We love to hear these “God-incidences” (instead of co-incidences).
This story was submitted by one of my readers – it happened in 1989. Here it is in his own words:
It was a Sunday night sometime prior to 7:00 p.m. It was late fall or winter and it was dark outside. I was on my way to a small Assembly of God church located outside of Phoenix, off Interstate 10. At this location the Interstate had four westbound lanes – three for normal traffic flow and one for carpooling.
This particular section of the Interstate (the area between 75th & 79th Avenues) was very unusual for two reasons: first, there was an on-ramp located only a very short distance from an off-ramp – a very small distance between locations where you could enter or exit the Interstate. Second, the off-ramp was located in the median, which required exiting vehicles to use the carpooling lane as the access point for the off-ramp. The net result of this design was that the actual entry point for the on-ramp was extremely close to the exit point for the off-ramp (the distance between 75th and 79th Avenues is only 1/2 mile).
[KW: Based on the photo I found on the internet (below), it looks like the distance on the interstate is even shorter – 1/4 mile, about 1300 feet]
On this particular occasion I was proceeding westerly in the extreme left lane. The carpooling lane was to my left. I had just passed a vehicle in the extreme right westbound lane. Immediately after driving under the 75th Avenue overpass which produced the on-ramp to the Interstate, I noticed that a large semi truck was barreling down the on-ramp. I wasn’t concerned, however, because I was in the far left lane.
The semi came to the Interstate entry point ahead of me. Then for whatever unknown reason, the semi immediately began moving across all of the westbound lanes. When I saw him begin to drift toward me, I didn’t realize that he wasn’t just moving into my lane, he was actually attempting to exit off the 79th Avenue exit ramp in the median area. In a matter of a couple of seconds the semi had blocked the center lane, far left lane and the carpooling lane in something of a diagonal line. I was no more than fifty yards away from the semi, traveling at an Interstate speed – it was directly in front of me, blocking all paths of escape.
When I realized I had nowhere to go, I jammed on the brakes. Too late. I saw the front of my car impacting just behind the front wheel of the semi’s trailer. I was going to slam into that trailer.
Then my field of vision was obscured by what seemed to be a lightweight, almost transparent curtain of grey. All I could see was a sheet of grey; the semi was no longer visible. The next sensation I had was like taking my hands off the steering wheel. In a matter of less than two seconds, it seemed as if my hands returned to the steering wheel. I could once again see what was in front of me – I was still in the left lane. I was just coming out from under the 79th Avenue overpass associated with the median off-ramp and I was calmly driving down the Interstate. I could still see the semi stretched across the Interstate in my rear-view mirror. In a matter of moments, the car which had been in the right lane came alongside me and maintained that position for several seconds, perhaps wondering if I really was the same car that should have smashed into the semi’s trailer. I kept driving and arrived at the church.
I knew God was real a very long time before this event occurred. I do not believe in God because of this experience. But I will say this: If you and your vehicle are ever physically “translated” (a Biblical term used to describe what happened), teleported or “beamed up” (to use a Star Trek expression), you are not going to doubt the existence of God. Believe me. Only God can do what I experienced that night. And I have absolutely no idea why this event occurred in my life. – C.T.
Wow – What a story! I have read of this happening to other people so I believe this is a true story. Imagine if he had hit that semi, it would have looked like this:
C.T. says he doesn’t know why it happened to him. Well I think I have an idea – he was meant to live. Sometimes God intervenes and saves us from physical harm for His own purposes. We don’t understand why it happens exactly but we know there is a reason.
Do you have a story of the supernatural to share? If so, post it below as a comment or send it to me via email as a future guest post. I love to get submissions from my readers! 🙂
When I first met Andrea*, my spirit jumped and I was excited to help her. I couldn’t explain it by anything I could see with my eyes, but my spirit “knew” she was ready for a great breakthrough. During our first session together, she mentioned that she had spirit guides and that she received messages from them. I listened compassionately, then gently said to her, “I want to warn you. It can be very dangerous to communicate with spirit guides. I have heard some really terrible stories of people who were harmed by them. They seem to be friendly and helpful at first, but later they become pushy, wanting more and more control, especially if you’ve invited them in.”
She looked a little alarmed and said, “Well, I’ve never invited them in.” I simply nodded. I didn’t say more because I knew it wasn’t time yet. I asked about her spiritual background. She told me she had been raised in a Christian family that was very strict about church attendance. She didn’t like the way she was taught to fear God with a sense of judgment and condemnation. When she left home, she decided to leave the church and explore other forms of spirituality. This led her to the New Age belief system and developing a connection with her spirit guides.
Fear of Supernatural Evil
As we worked together over several months, she often had experiences related to fear and anxiety, especially fear of supernatural evil. I told her that my primary protection against fear of supernatural evil was to connect with God. I explained that my concept of God was not fearful and condemning, but rather loving and just. I told her God was someone I could trust to take care of me and was much more powerful than any form of evil. I could tell she was interested, but still cautious.
We worked through many of her fears and other issues using the exercises in this book. Little by little I saw a transformation in her. Her anxiety reduced, she started to love and accept who she was and had less stress. I encouraged her to open her heart to God and ask for His help. I encouraged her that He loved her and cared about everything that concerned her. She was still hesitant, but open to the idea.
A few weeks later, I saw a HUGE change in her. She told me, “I don’t know why I waited so long to do this. This week I opened my heart to God completely. I feel so much peace and I don’t feel alone anymore!” She was beaming as she spoke. I was thrilled.
From that point on, her path became clearer and clearer. Every time we met, she had stories of how God was helping her deal with one thing after another. Her peace and confidence were increasing. I suggested that she read Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. She did and then she read the book that the author recommends after that one called, Steps to Freedom in Christ. This book includes very specific prayers to pray to be released from spiritual darkness. She prayed through every single one! By now the taste of freedom she had experienced made her long for more. She was eager for every drop she could get!
She realized that she needed to ask Jesus to forgive her for rejecting her Christian faith. She decided that she could disagree with the way she was taught, but still trust Him to guide her. She opened her heart to Jesus and began a relationship with Him. The next time we met, she told me she had experienced so many breakthroughs!
The supernatural realm was no longer as scary as it used to be
Here are some of them:
– the supernatural realm was no longer as scary as it used to be
– she stopped hearing from her spirit guides as much and their thoughts were less intrusive when she did hear them
– she felt validated for her spiritual discernment, that she’s “normal” and not weird
– her fear and anxiety substantially reduced in all areas of life
– she noticed her discernment was much more clear, instead of just feeling “something”, she had specific insight into what she was sensing
– her daughter was no longer scared at night (as she had been for years)
– she felt less needy and felt instead that she had something to offer others
– she found herself acting less self-centered
– people started spontaneously coming up to her and telling her their problems; she felt she was able to help them simply by listening with compassion
– her husband started showing an interest in spiritual things and wanted to go to church with her
– her relationship with her husband improved as she showed him respect
– she was sleeping better and had much fewer nightmares
– she had a strong sense of well-being and experienced so much peace that it was literally a physical sensation
Wow! So much change! It’s amazing what having a healthy, loving connection with God can do! Andrea’s life was changed completely. From then on, every time we met she had such peace. I remember when I first met her and how much anxiety she had. She is a completely different woman now! Even her children have thanked her for being their “rock” during a difficult time in their family.
It is such a pleasure to witness the spiritual transformation of another human being. I love to partner with God to help His children reconnect with His love.
A note for those who have spirit guides: One of the things Andrea discovered was that she didn’t need a different source of supernatural information other than God. As she drew closer to God and opened her heart to Him, she no longer needed her spirit guides. God provided direction, support and comfort to her – the things she used to get from her spirit guides. She noticed that sometimes her spirit guides said things to her that were disturbing or caused her a LOT of fear. This was not true with God – the things she heard from Him were always encouraging and reduced her fear or anxiety.
Do you have any examples of how your life changed as a result of developing a relationship with God or Jesus? Please feel free to share in the comments below.
*name changed to protect individual’s privacy
Rating: Educational, inspirational, pleasant
Lately it seems that the topic of Spiritual Soaking has been coming up a lot. Do you know what that is?
During the movement called the Toronto Blessing (back in the 1990’s), the Lord showed John and Carol Arnott that they needed to learn how to simple sit in God’s presence and “soak”. Imagine taking a warm bath – you fill the tub with warm water, add some essential oils or bubble bath to make it smell nice and then you slowly get in. You don’t jump in, immerse yourself in the water and then jump out. The point of taking a bath is to relax, soak in the warm water, let your muscles rest and your soul unwind. You breathe in the scent of the fragrant oils and just BE. There’s no rushing – the point is to soak until you feel relaxed and at peace.
The Lord taught many people how to soak and it changed their lives. The movement started in Toronto and it spread around the world.
Here’s how I do it – I often do this alone, but I have also invited people over to my house for “soaking sessions”.
First I prepare the environment where I will be soaking. I pick a quiet room in the house. I remove all distractions (i.e. turn off cell phones, televisions, etc. and notify family that I don’t want to be disturbed for a while). I close the blinds or turn down the lights so that there are no bright lights in my eyes. I put on something comfortable – sweats and a t-shirt or shorts.
Next I choose some “soaking music”. There are many musicians that specialize in soaking music. Some of my favorite are
Julie True – Spirit to Spirit is my favorite right now
Alberto and Kimberly Rivera – they have many soaking albums, most are “live” albums
Laura Rhinehart – her music is “deep” water
Then I sit in a comfortable chair or lay down. I close my eyes and let myself relax. It usually takes a while to get my mind to settle down. I take several deep breaths slowly and try to quiet my thoughts. Then I just let myself BE. I just sit there. I don’t specifically pray or worship. I am just waiting in the presence of God – I open my heart to Him. Often I will begin to feel the presence of God around me. The soaking music is uniquely crafted to help you “tune in” to God. I focus on God’s Presence. Just like being with another person – I focus on HIM and not me. 🙂 I often ask Him to increase my awareness of His presence and He does.
It is very relaxing and it restores my soul when I soak. I highly recommend it.
It’s okay if you fall asleep – it’s the intention that matters. 🙂
Learn to be still.
In our society of rushing here and there, constant mental stimulation from the media and multitudes of distractions, it can be very hard to simply learn to be still. This is an important aspect of prayer that many do not mention. It’s not fast, fun or easy. It doesn’t appeal to our desire for self-gratification. Learning to be still is very important because it teaches you to wait on the Lord and quiet your mind.
Invite God to speak to you.
We not only talk to God when we pray, but it is also a time for us to listen to God. Tell Him you want to hear from Him. Open your heart and be willing to receive whatever He says (even if you don’t like it). He knows whether you will listen and obey Him or not so be sincere in your request. Lay down your natural willfulness and be open to what He has to say.
This is part of waiting on the Lord. Just like in a conversation – you speak and then you wait for the other person to respond. Sometimes the Lord is quick to reply, but often He waits to see if you really want to hear from Him. It may try your patience. Just sit quietly and wait – sometimes He answers right away and other times He answers later, sometimes days later.
Obey – do whatever He tells you to do.
Obviously, if God tells you to do something, you should do it. Henry Blackaby says that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not like our thoughts. They are so different that sometimes what He tells you to do may seem wrong or crazy. However, if you notice the pattern in the stories in the Bible, every person who was asked to do something by God knew it was God. It wasn’t like “well, this could be me or maybe this is God”. They KNEW. If you’re not sure, then wait for Him to confirm it. Usually you can tell because it stirs your heart and you just KNOW you better do what He said. And often it is not easy – not something you would have come up with on your own.
He really, really likes it when we trust Him. It’s a big deal. We like it when someone trusts US and we get offended if someone does something that demonstrates they don’t trust us, right? Why is that? Because we want people to trust our character and the intentions of our heart – that we will do what we say we will do. God is like that too – He likes it when we trust His character and His intentions, when we demonstrate that we believe He will do what He says He will do.
If you’d like some practical ways to get closer to God, I recommend the course: Developing a Close Relationship with God: A Simple Method. The course teaches you how to focus so you can pay attention to God without distractions. You will also learn to recognize God’s voice and become familiar with the different ways that He communicates. It provides simple activities you can do to interact with God. It’s short – just 15 minutes a week for 4 weeks. It’s online so it’s available whenever you are. You can listen to it while you drive or when you exercise. It can make God more “real” for you – and that’s priceless! 🙂
If you want to go deeper into having a relationship with God, I also recommend the book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. The workbook version gives you exercises where you can practice talking to God and hearing from Him. It’s a lot of fun and it will also s-t-r-e-t-c-h you spiritually. I’ve read the book, done the workbook and taken a class on it. I’ve also taught the workbook with a small group once or twice. It is really life changing – you’ll never be the same after you learn how to recognize the voice of God in your every day life. 🙂
“You will not obey Him, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him.”
-Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God
Rating: Educational, inspirational
Recently one of my clients told me he wanted to draw closer to God, but didn’t know how. Faith was new to him. He was raised in a home where no one went to church or prayed or anything so he didn’t really know where to start. He asked me for some direction. Here are some thoughts I shared with him.
Developing a spiritual practice that helps you draw closer to God is really important. But you want to make sure it doesn’t become an empty ritual. It needs to be authentic and based on your desire for God. I discovered early on in my spiritual journey that there is one prayer that God answers every time – asking Him to give you the desire to seek Him. When I first started out, I was excited to talk to God. It was new and different. But then over time, I felt my spiritual fervor waning. At first, I was kind of embarrassed. How do you get the desire for God back?
The answer I discovered is this: Admit you lack the desire and ask Him to give it to you. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. When I ask God to give me the desire to spend time with Him, usually within a day or two it comes. It is not immediate, but it always comes. I’ve done this many times over the years.
So – that’s the first “exercise” I shared with him – ask God for desire. Because without the desire, any spiritual exercise can become an empty ritual.
Then I wrote up a “spiritual exercise” for him. I reached back into my past and tried to remember the first things I was taught that helped me become more closely connected with God. At first, I did these every day as a discipline – whether I felt like it or not. I wanted to teach myself to have a spiritual practice. Then after awhile they became second nature to me. I do them now without even realizing it – they have become part of who I am.
These are in a certain order – do them this way for 30 days. After the practice becomes familiar, you can improvise. 🙂
1. Acknowledge God – Honor who God is and that you need Him, humble yourself.
2. Confess your self-centered ways – Admit to God and yourself the thoughts and decisions you’ve made in the last 24 hours that were self-centered and apart from Him.
3. Ask the Spirit of God to lead you – Ask Him to show you His ways and the right decisions to make.
4. Open the Bible – Ask for inspiration and then read a passage from the Bible.
5. Turn something from what you read into a prayer – Make it personal to your life.
6. Give thanks – Tell God what you are thankful for.
7. Ask for what you need and finish by thanking God in advance for providing what is needed. He loves it when you thank Him ahead of time because it demonstrates your confidence that He is good and trustworthy. (It also gives you hope.)
8. Sing a song to Him – Learn some worship songs or make up one of your own. Rejoice in the goodness of God and His care for you.
This is not a rigid ritual, but more of a practice to teach your heart to turn to the Lord and depend on Him. You will be so glad that you did!
You are dearly loved by God and He is looking forward to talking to you and spending time with you. Did you know that?
So, how about you? Do you have a spiritual practice that you do on a regular basis that helps you to connect with the Lord? Please share it with us!