I’ve discovered that if I want to feel closer to God and feel His influence in my life and business, I need to do specific things on a regular basis. When I don’t do these things, I feelalone. I feel alone in my decision making and less inspired to know how to serve others.
Here are five practices that help me draw closer to God. I hope you will find them useful too.
Prayer is the way we keep our hearts and minds aligned with our Father in Heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches, “…when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father….” (Matthew 6:6).
Personally, trying to pray as I go throughout my day (i.e., silently in my car or as I’m doing the dishes) just doesn’t keep me connected to God’s spirit the way true, dedicated prayer time does. What do I mean by “true, dedicated prayer time”?
First of all, it’s time that I set aside specifically to pray. I don’t try to multitask, like praying while I’m driving or going for a walk.
Second, it’s prayer the way Jesus prayed: “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down and prayed” (Luke 22:41). I kneel down, most often in my close where I am completely alone, and pray out loud. (We know Jesus prayed aloud; otherwise Luke and Matthew wouldn’t have been able to record what he said.)
Third, it’s true prayer. I share what I’m truly feeling—frustration, longing, sadness, anger, impatience with myself, gratitude, excitement, love. I don’t leave things out because I think God will think less of me or because I think something is “off limits”.
The first step toward connecting with God and feeling the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life is true, dedicated prayer.
I can only do so much mentally to uplift myself and stay inspired. Outside influence and inspiration always helps me feel the Spirit. One of the best ways to bring uplifting material into my mind and my life is to read.
When it comes to reading, there are so many choices: the Bible, scripture commentaries, devotionals, the words of hymns, books, monthly publications by your church organization. I’d even include many of the stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I love to be inspired by the stories of people living truly Christian lives and making choices that bless the lives of others.
Two books I highly recommend that I’ve read recently are:
• Abundant Simplicity by Jan Johnson—This book shines the light on how society’s values tend to pull us away from our relationship with God. It also gives suggestions and weekly practices to help let go of the world and focus our attention more abundantly on Him.
•Questions for Jesus by Tony Stolzfus—This book is an amazing experience in discovering a new way to pray in a way that helps us meet our needs for acceptance, approval, peace, etc. through our relationship with Christ rather than looking to other people or to the world.
In short, if you’re feeling down or just a little disconnected, find something inspiring to read to uplift and nurture your soul.
Sometimes when I pray to know what to do next the idea that comes into my mind is this: “You need to do what I’ve already told you to do before I give you any new instructions.”
In order to get the best results from current and future prayers, I need to act on the inspiration I receive. And the sooner I take action the better. Because I’m working toward building a business with God’s help, much of what I need to accomplish is cumulative. Like the scripture that says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” there are certain things I need to do before God gives me more instructions (Eccl. 31). Things must be done in wisdom and order.
When I take action on the answers to prayer I’ve already been given, I’m aligning my will with God’s and preparing myself to receive more inspiration to help me walk the path He would lead me down.
Just like reading, listening is another great way to connect with God. I like to listen to inspiring music (and Christmas has been the perfect time for that). I also like to listen to the scriptures on CD or on my iPhone while I’m driving. A friend of mine highly recommends Your Daily Proverb, which publishes a different audio version of a chapter of Proverbs each day (see www.YourDailyProverb.com).
While it’s not exactly listening, I’m going to suggest that when you don’t have something to listen to that you sing a hymn or other song that makes you feel connected to God. “I…will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high” (Psalm 7:17).
Life is so busy that it’s easy to focus solely on ourselves and our families. It’s easy to overlook our blessings and think that we’ve got it rough. Becoming wrapped up in our own little world can lead to ingratitude. It becomes easy to pass others by, instead of taking the time to stop and help, like the Good Samaritan did.
I reconnect with God and His purposes when I look outside myself and ask, “What can I do today to serve others?” When I serve others, my hands become God’s hands in blessing those who need his help. Whether it’s sharing vegetables out of my garden, taking a meal to my friend down the street whose husband is in stage four cancer, or giving away coupons for a free sandwich to someone standing behind me in line at the store, I feel joyful when I’ve done something to serve God’s children.
Action Plan: How Will You Connect with God This Week?
To help you make a plan for the coming week, here are five questions to think about:
1. When, where and how will you pray this week? How often?
2. What will you read to help you connect with the Spirit?
3. What has God already prompted you to do that you will take action on this week?
4. What will you listen to this week? When and where will you listen?
5. Look around and see (or even pray and ask) who needs your help this week? (Be sensitive to spur of the moment promptings to reach out to those around you.)
As you answer these questions and make a plan, I guarantee you will draw closer to your Father in Heaven and feel His spirit in your life.
Please SHARE your plans or any resources that inspire YOU on our Facebook page!