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
“He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile.” – A. W Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Chapter 3
I read this back in 1990 and was blown away. My heart “knew” this statement was true, but I didn’t know anyone who knew God like this. Not a soul. At the time, I was surrounded by the most on-fire Christians I could find. I had just spent two years in Bible College with a bunch of radical students who wanted nothing more than to give their lives for Jesus, going anywhere He wanted them to go. Then I joined a youth organization known for its mission work around the globe. I had just arrived at a new base that was birthed out of one man’s passion to see revival brought to America.
Yet this simple statement seemed incredulous to me. If this was true, if this man experienced God that way, then why didn’t I know anyone else who had? If this was possible, why oh why, didn’t everyone walk with God like this?!
I became determined that THIS would be my life. That I would “find” God like this as though my life depended on it. Because in my heart, I knew it did.
“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily- satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” – A. W Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Chapter 1
The “children of the burning heart” – that described me perfectly.
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I am happy to say that NOW – I do experience life with Him like that. I DO see Him, live with Him and draw my life from His smile… Every. Single. Day. It really IS possible – even for you. Peter, one of the followers of Jesus said, “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34, The Bible). That means ANYONE can come to Him and “see” Him. Whosoever will … may come to Him because He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6, The Bible).
So, what does that mean? Elsewhere I have written about the 5 senses we have in our spirit or soul. We can use these 5 (or 6) senses to interact with Him, to “see” Him in our daily experience. Jesus used these senses. Here’s some examples:
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19, The Bible)
“When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:20, The Bible)
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30, The Bible)
“And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?” (Luke 5:21-23, The Bible)
“Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matthew 4:11, The Bible)
Jesus not only interacted with God in the unseen realm, He also interacted with the devil and with angels. And he could perceive other people’s thoughts. He showed us what was possible as a son or daughter of God.
It’s not “out there” – it’s right here, in our midst.
“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.” – A. W Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Chapter 4
Wow! What a statement. This spiritual kingdom is “within reach of our inner selves” – that means we don’t use our outer 5 senses to perceive it. We use our “inner” 5 (or 6) senses. It is “waiting for us to recognize it” and “God Himself is here waiting” – doesn’t that make you want to stop what you are doing and look for it? It makes me excited just thinking about it.
We can actually learn to interact with the unseen realm on a daily basis. I’ve proven it in my own life by actually DOING it. I love that last line above “This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality”. So very, very true. The first step is to “reckon upon its reality” – admit that it exists. Choose to believe what our natural eyes and ears cannot see or hear. That’s the first step – FAITH.
But this is not “blind” faith, meaning that you just believe with no proof whatsoever. I promise you, that if you will step out and “reckon upon its reality”, you will get plenty of proof – over and over and over. I experience this every day. Jesus experienced it in His lifetime on earth. YOU can experience it too.
Just step out .. play the “what if” game. What if that spiritual kingdom really was all around me? What if God is real and He can speak to me? What if I really do have the capacity to live with Him and draw my life from His smile? What if it’s really real?
One of my friends started using this catchphrase “The Kindgom is Real!” Whenever we encountered the unseen realm and chose to believe, we were rewarded (remember He rewards those who diligently seek Him?). Then she would say, “The Kindgom is Real!” Saying something out loud repeatedly helps your cynical mind accept reality. It grounds it in your experience.
“So, how do I do this?” you may be asking. The first step is to believe you CAN do it. That God is eagerly waiting for you to find Him.
Then set aside time every day, throughout your day, to pay attention. Ask God to reveal Himself to you and then notice what happens. Spend time sitting quietly, focusing on the fact that there IS a spiritual kingdom all around you. Look around in nature and see the beauty of God reflected in His creation. Thank Him for that beauty and ask Him to open your eyes to see more.
We all have these spiritual senses – it’s part of who we are as human beings. What I’ve learned is that the more you pay attention to something, the more it grows. The more I choose to stop and focus on the fact that God is with me right now, the more aware I become of Him. It becomes a habit, a pattern, a familiar experience – in short, it becomes “normal” to feel God’s presence. The more you do it, the more natural it feels.
One word of caution – God rewards those who diligently seek HIM. I have seen people get into some pretty weird stuff when they tried to seek other spiritual phenomenon – like communicating with angels, seeking a spirit guide or contacting the dead. Don’t go there – it’s dangerous. It starts to mess with your mind in a way that’s hard for you to perceive, but everyone else can see it. It muddies your thinking – that’s the best way I can describe it. Stick to seeking GOD in this unseen realm and everything else will fall into place. God is what your heart is longing for – trust me. When you find HIM, you find everything you’ve ever been looking for.
“…in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.” – A. W Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Chapter 1
Please feel free to share your story of seeing God or experiencing Him and His kingdom. I love to hear “God stories” – you can post it below, if you’d like.
A.W. Tozer’s book online – Free 🙂 Read it – your heart will thank you! ♥
I am making up a new word: Respondability
Let me explain.
God keeps showing me, impressing on my thoughts, this idea that we need to pay attention to how we respond when He tries to get our attention. Are we responding?
If you want to develop a relationship with someone, then when they call you, you want to take their call. You respond to their desire to connect with you.
In the same way, God reaches out to us every day. You feel a nudge in your heart. Or your eyes are drawn to something specific that makes you smile (or causes you concern). You feel this tug of love toward someone or you spontaneously feel like smiling at a neighbor who is walking by. These are examples of His desire to connect with us. Sometimes He draws you to spend time in prayer or worship or meditation on His beautiful creation. Sometimes you feel the nudge to just sit still and BE. There’s so many ways He reaches out to us.
Some might refer to this as intuition and that would be right, but it is much more personal than just intuition. At least, it is for me. It is God inviting me into relationship with Him.
He has been encouraging me that when we respond to His nudges, His direction, His drawing, then He will take care of what we generally consider our “responsibilities”. We can rest in Him. Just like a little child with a good, caring father. We don’t have to have it all figured out. We can ask for help and He will respond and help us. For more on this, read this post about asking for help.
He keeps telling me, impressing on my mind and heart, that life is more about our “respondability” than our “responsibility”. Our ability to respond to Him, no matter what. That takes time and cultivation. If you are not used to recognizing His nudges and direction, you need to take time to learn to perceive them. Once you begin to perceive them, you need to respond to them. Follow them and see where they go. At some point, you need to transfer your trust from your own “common sense” to following His direction effortlessly. Stop second guessing yourself and just go with His flow. It never ceases to amaze me how things work out so much better when I do this.
We focus so much on our “responsibilities” as adults. There’s so much we have to keep track of – doctors appointments, car tune ups, household chores, career development, parenting, marriage issues, friendships, etc. It boggles the mind. And overwhelms us … and causes us stress.
However, if we will let go of our sense of “responsibilities” and instead choose to develop our “respondability”, He can guide us moment-by-moment, day-by-day. All our responsibilities will get taken care of as we respond to Him and His guidance.
Pretty “out-there”, huh?
It takes a lot of practice – this “following” thing. We are so hard-headed and stubborn and unwilling to trust someone we cannot see. But as we choose to deny ourselves and actually FOLLOW Him, it works. It really does. And it’s a lot less stressful than the other option.
So, what do you think? Should I submit this word to Merriam-Webster? Maybe create a YouTube video about it, make it go viral and then everyone will start using this word? 🙂
The concept behind it is definitely worth sharing. Try it out and let me know how it works for you. I think you’ll be glad you did!
Rating: Inspirational, pleasant
Humility attracts the Holy Spirit. – Mickey Robinson
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. – Solomon, James & Peter (Prov 3:34, James 4:6, I Peter 5:5)
What is grace? One definition I like is “God’s enabling power”. So how does this power come to us? By the Holy Spirit. “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …” (Acts 1:8)
Recognizing your dependence upon God and your need of Him makes you humble. That draws the Holy Spirit TO YOU.
When you feel confident you can “handle” life on your own, God will resist you. His Spirit won’t help you because you don’t seem to need Him.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14) Little children are humble and dependent. They know they need help – tying their shoes, getting a drink, feeding themselves, getting dressed, etc. So they ask, every time they need something. Admitting their weakness allows someone with strength to help them.
Most of us, as adults, want to show we are strong, that we can “handle” whatever life throws at us. But the opposite attitude is needed if we wish to receive God’s enabling power by His Holy Spirit. We must humble ourselves every day, saying, like Moses did, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)
Admitting that we don’t “have it all together” is a vulnerable place for us. We’ve been told to “grow up” and be responsible for our lives. Yet, it seems to me that the complexities of life are meant to drive us to this place of vulnerability and trust in His grace.
So, here’s some questions to ponder :
How much do you want to do on your own?
How desperate are you for His help?
The choice is yours.
I’d rather choose vulnerability, grace and humility daily. I don’t want to do this on my own. I want more of the Holy Spirit’s help and enabling power. The world is too big and scary – just look at the news each day. We need help. Our planet desperately needs His grace.
Make us humble, Lord, that we might receive Your enabling power by Your Spirit. Without it, we’re lost. ♥