A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a devotional for my office retreat. The theme for the retreat was “rejuvenation” and as I started to think about what to share I wondered, what is the one thing that we need most to refresh and restore ourselves? Almost instantly, the thought hit me, we need to hear from and connect with God.
In our society that is increasingly busy, distracted, stressed and anxious, what could fill us up and get us back on track better than connecting with the creator of the universe, the one who made us and knows exactly what we need?
I think even those who are not Christians would probably admit that a touch from the divine or something bigger than themselves (whether they call it God or not) changes them in a way that nothing else can.
The problem is even those of us who believe is God and may go to church regularly are not really connecting with and hearing from him that often. We might want to but something or many things get in the way. Here are a few of the most common:
Technology – we are so connected nowadays that it seems almost impossible to unplug. Our phones are the worst culprit – inundating us with any combination of text messages, emails, Facebook notifications, etc. – that we feel compelled to respond to right away. That’s not to mention the distractions we seek out – games, shows, news, endlessly scrolling through Instagram, etc.
Responsibilities – of course we have to take care of our responsibilities, but no matter how hard we work, there will always be more to do. At some point we need to set work aside for a bit and give ourselves a break.
Busyness – obviously our responsibilities often keep us busy but many of us keep ourselves occupied way beyond what we’re accountable for. Honestly, I think we’re afraid of the stillness and quiet and what we might discover if we stop moving. Being busy also makes us feel important and needed.
Our own prayer/devotional practice – this one might come as a surprise but even if we have a regular devotional practice, how often do we actually stop and ask God what he wants us to hear and take the time to listen? Instead do we spend most of our time talking? Of course God wants to hear from us but eventually we have to stop speaking if we want to hear from him.
Notice how most of those things in and of themselves are not bad? In fact most are actually really good at times but overdone they become harmful distractions from what is best.
So how to do we put ourselves in a position to hear from God? Most of us know that we need to read the bible and I totally agree that is super important. In fact my daily devotional practice usually starts there but I think there’s much more we can do. There’s no right or wrong way but here’s a few strategies that have helped me:
- Find a quiet place – this may be the most important ingredient. We need to find a place that is quiet and free from distraction.
- Find something to anchor us to the present – so many of us are often caught up worrying about the future or lamenting the past that we rarely spend time in the present. When we try our minds tend to wander. We need something to help us stay focused so we can listen. That could be focusing our breath, reciting a favorite scripture or prayer over and over, listening to the birds, etc.
- Take a walk in nature – God’s creation reflects his glory more than anything else. Getting out in it and intentionally noticing the beauty is a great way to connect with him.
- Listen to music – music connects and communicates in a powerful way and I believe God uses it as a unique means to encourage us.
Whatever we do it is important to make it a regular practice. Like anything else that’s new it takes time for us to get used to it and comfortable with it. As we do this we create space for God to speak and connect with us. We also become more familiar with God’s voice and able to recognize it more easily.
God is always in the present, wanting to speak to and connect with us. It is up to us to put ourselves in a position to listen and receive. The more we do that the more we’ll get to experience his rejuvenating power.