Feeling distant? It happens. And while there are few things that compensate for the traditional “do your quiet time/devotional” practice, sometimes life takes its toll on us. We miss several days, then weeks, and before we know it, God does not feel very close or present in our lives anymore.
Getting back into it can be tough too! The good news is that there really is no fixed formula. Don’t get me wrong. Having a regular devotional time is very, very important. But it doesn’t mean that your spiritual life is doomed if you’re not doing so great in that area.
Plus, the terms “quiet time” or “devotional” do not actually exist in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible can you find a verse that says, “Thou shalt practice having a daily devotional.”
These terms were coined up by human beings who realized the importance of spending time with God. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Jesus Himself said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
So really, the issue is not about doing whatever it takes to keep to a strict schedule so that you can “die die” meet your minimum requirement of spending time alone with God. Time spent together under duress is worse than no time together at all. If you are familiar with Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, “Quality Time” is a big deal for God. Emphasis on the quality.
So yes. God is not interested in you dragging your feet to meet with Him. He wants us to remain close to Him cuz well, like He said, without Him we can do nothing (and was pretty serious about that!) and as much as He enjoys His time with us, He wants us to enjoy our time with Him. Which is why, He leaves the initiative up to us. If we act, He will respond. If we do nothing, He will wait. Yay for us, He’s a pretty patient God!
Here are some ways that have helped me grow in my relationship with God:
1. Listen to God-centered music
Colossians 3:16 says: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
The Bible is indispensable. However, God’s Word it is not limited to Genesis through Revelation. Over the centuries, the Holy Spirit has continually inspired His people to extrapolate the message of Christ through songwriting and poetry. The message remains the same, but the expression of the message is endless!
So fill your playlist with songs of praise and take it with you everywhere you go. There are thousands of songs out there with lyrics that will lift your spirit, bring you to tears, humble you, renew your awe and wonder for God, and lead you to shout for joy to the Lord!
Listen while cooking, while doing laundry or the dishes, when you’re stuck in traffic, or even in the shower! Not only do our mundane chores seem to fly by much faster, the simultaneous interaction of God speaking as we respond takes place, and something beautiful and indescribably just… happens.
You probably wanna say something like, “Seriously? I don’t even have time to pray and read my Bible and you’re asking me to write?”
Well. For starters, it doesn’t have to be long. Journaling, for me, has been perhaps the most important and treasured practices in my spiritual growth. It is incredibly personal, and that’s what makes it special—like a thing between me and God and nobody else.
The Bible places much emphasis on prayer. It is about communicating with God, it is about bringing our joys and our sorrows to Him, coming to Him with our petitions, our worries, and our burdens, and submitting ourselves to His will. It is about praising Him for all that He is and all that He has done. That’s exactly what journaling does, in written form.
It does not in any way replace prayer—because that ongoing conversation with God throughout the day is exceptionally vital (1 Thess 5:16, “pray without ceasing”), but there is something about writing to God that forms a an even stronger connection with Him that verbal prayers just don’t.
Journaling also keeps record of your journey with God. Every entry is dated. And while much of what is written in there is not easy to revisit, sometimes going back several years and seeing how far God has brought you is evidence of His hand over your life.
3. Fellowship with believers
Never underestimate the power of coming together with fellow believers in Christ, talking about Him together, and talking to Him together. Whether it is a Bible study or a church service or a one-on-one lunch with a friend, sharing your walk with Jesus with others and hearing about how He has been real to them is a priceless gift that we cannot afford to discount.
When we are able to freely discuss, question, and bounce ideas and concepts off of each other, we learn more about God, gain better insights and understandings, and therefore obtain a renewed love and appreciation for God.
As busy as life gets, this is one part of the Christian life that simply cannot be compromised. It does not take much effort, and the results are more than worth the time. No matter how “mature” we are spiritually, there is always something new we can learn or something old we can be reminded about, and God has given us a family for that. Isolation and keeping our relationship with God to ourselves never ends us up in a healthy place.
4. Listen to sermons and audio books/Bibles
Similar to music, this practice can be done while going about some other task that does not require your ears. Reading can sometimes get tiring and tedious, but we have technology available to us today that we can take full advantage of.
Many of us spend more time on the road than we would like. Instead of impatiently drumming our fingers on the steering wheel and getting irritated with everyone who cuts in front of us, why not listen to the Bible or a good book or a sermon series?
Not only will you find that you have so much to learn, you also maximize your time, keep your brain active, keep your heart healthy, and you’ll eventually find that the long ride home or to the office is not that bad after all. In fact, you may even find yourself looking forward to getting back into the car!
Of course, these methods are not exhaustive, and may not work for everyone. So if none of these resonate with you, your challenge is to find something that does! Bear in mind that God cannot be kept in a box and neither are the ways we can get to know Him better. Life with God is not about a bunch of rules and “must-do’s.” It is an adventure with so much to explore and discover. Have fun doing it!
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