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
I was describing to a friend recently the experience of the presence of God. It is hard to describe in words of the natural realm. “Many people want to experience God’s presence,” she said, “but they don’t know how. You should share this.”
As I pondered how to teach someone the very first step toward becoming aware of the presence of God, this exercise came to me. I hope it helps you take your first step toward a deeper relationship with God.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath slowly. Imagine the Spirit of God filling you as you breathe in. Hold your breath and count to five mentally. Let the breath out as you say, “Thank you, Jesus.”
Set a timer on your cell phone for one minute. Do the breathing exercise. You can use different phrases like, “I love you, Jesus” or “You’re wonderful, Jesus” if you want to add variety.
Notice how you feel after doing this exercise. I feel relaxed, at peace and I have mental clarity.
Start by doing this exercise once a day.
Once it feels comfortable doing this for one minute every day, set the timer for three minutes.
You’ll notice an even greater peace and clarity of mind. You may begin to become aware of God’s presence.
Don’t start with three minutes if you have never done this before. Start with one minute. I know some of you want to skip ahead, but trust me on this. Take baby steps – this is a lifetime practice, not a quick fix. Taking it slowly now will payoff very well later. I promise!
Keep doing it every day. You can do this more than once a day, if you wish. It can be particularly helpful to do this while sitting in traffic, to reduce your stress (but keep your eyes open please).
After awhile you will look forward to your special time with God each day. That’s when you can stop using the timer. Spend as much time as you want. The more you do this, the more likely you will become aware of God’s presence.
Don’t give up. Let your desire for God draw you to this time. If you lack desire, then when you breathe out say, “Draw me, Lord.”
What is God’s presence like? Some people sense a presence (or energy) of love or of peace. Others sense companionship – like someone is there with them and they are no longer alone. You’ll know when it happens to you – it’s personal and unique. ♥
Once you become aware of God’s presence, you can do the breathing exercise longer, if you wish. It can help you stay focused on Him. You can share your thoughts and feelings with God. Or you may enjoy practicing Listening Prayer, another exercise to help you connect with God. [I’ll post a description on this blog later, but for now you can Google “Listening Prayer” if you want to learn more.]
Let me know what you experience when you try this exercise. It’s so simple, yet it has profound effects.