Come near to God and he will come near to you. – James 4:8 (NIV)
This is a not a master list, just things that I have done that have brought me closer to God.
1. Prayer and Praise
Be still, and know that I am God… – (KJV)
When we pray we enter into communion with God. Ordinary conversation is fine. Asking for God’s help is fine, too. But praise is especially important.
When I thank God for all he’s done and doing in my life, praise comes easy. Praise and thanksgiving remind me how good God is and how involved he is in my life. It reminds me just how much he loves me.
For me, this is a powerful connection.
If you’re not already praying everyday, don’t miss out. Get up or go to bed a half an hour early or build something into your routine like a daily nature walk that you’ll devote to prayer.
And don’t forget the praise!
2. Be Attentive
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. – 1 Kings 19:11-13 (KJV)
I don’t know for sure but I bet Elijah was absolutely certain God was in the mountain rending wind. And then, just as sure he’d be behind the earthquake. And then pretty sure he’d be in the fire. But God wasn’t in any of those things.
And here is why that is important to me.
However fast or slow the space between those events was, Elijah didn’t turn away or run away or hide. And he didn’t stop paying attention, either. And because of that, even though his ears were probably ringing, he heard God’s still small voice.
For me, this kind of attentiveness isn’t about really about waiting for a word or for an answer or a sign, it is a state of receptiveness that is an end in itself and keeps us very near to God.
Cultivating attentiveness to God takes practices but if you pray for him to help you out, he will.
3. Try To See It His Way
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
It’s wonderful to connect with God during prayer but, to be honest, the time I most need to feel God’s presence is when I’m dealing with other human beings.
It’s not easy to feel really close to God when, for example, someone cuts in front of you in line at the grocery store. But it’s one of those times that we really need to. For me, one of the best ways to do that is to try to look at the person as God might.
And who knows really? Maybe the person who just cut in front of me IS late for their appointment to donate blood or take an elderly neighbor to the doctor. And maybe they’re not. But there is something wrong there and God sees it. And he forgives it.
Just like he forgives us.
So, while I do NOT always succeed I do try to remember to stop and ask God what’s up with that person. Sometimes I feel like he tells me and sometimes he does not but either way, I say a prayer for them, and my inner turmoil fades. And in the stillness that follows, I sense God.
4. Take Time for the Bible
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other… – Matthew 6:24 ESV
Everytime I think about my priorities I wonder if it even makes sense to pluralize the word. But I still do it and odds are you do too. On any given day I have a long list of “priorities.” But I always put Scripture first.
In my routine, this means that I spend time in the Word every day right after my morning prayers. For me, getting up early just for that helps me feel calm and focused on God. Putting “read Bible” on my to-do list does not.
My number one favorite place to connect with God is between the pages of my Bible. And he always shows up!
For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. – Jeremiah 2:13
While I am not saying you should delete their Facebook page or stop watching Game of Thrones, limiting this type of activity has helped me.
Because the truth is we can’t easily connect with God or anything if we’re plugged in to something else 24/7.
Some social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook will tell you how long you’ve been on. And Facebook will also remind you to get off.
For me just taking the Facebook shortcut off the home screen of my phone helped a lot.
It is also possible to swap out bad media for good. Such as Christian media for cable TV.
To this end, I recently replaced my cable service with a Roku. Now I watch Bible teachers like Derek Prince, Mike Heiser and others on YouTube in the evening instead of dramas that always end with a cliffhanger that makes me want to watch again (and again).
Other nights I read.
I also listen to Christian radio or podcasts when I remodel, clean or cook which helps pass the time, circumvent frustration (or poor me syndrome) and brings me a little closer to God.
Media can move us in the right direction or the wrong one. Because some of it is addictive, setting limits and making good choices counts.
Consider unplugging from what doesn’t serve to free up space for God!
The Bottom Line
God is everywhere and he WILL get our attention when he has to. But makes sense to try to be as available and open to connecting with him as we can. Sometimes this means cutting back on activities or media. Other times it is an attitude or practice.
But, however we choose to do it – the payoff is immense.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you… – John 14:27 (KJV)
To learn more about limiting your time on Facebook please see “See How Much Time You Spend on Facebook.”