We’re into the second month of a new year! This tends to be the time when resolutions start to straggle, goals might begin to wither, and new routines begin to sag. This doesn’t have to be the case, of course, but it’s true that several people struggle to keep up with the changes right about now.
One common goal for Christians is to spend more time seeking God- to maintain devotional times during the morning or before bed, to read the Bible more often, to build a stronger relationship with the Lord. This is one awesome goal that certainly does not have to fade! Friends who struggle with this, though, tell me that it’s because they don’t know what to do.
What does “seeking God” look like?
Especially those new to the faith struggle with long stretches of prayer or scripture reading; it becomes mundane, they don’t know what to say or read. Even those with tenure in the faith report that their God time can become tedious or “dry”, falling to the level of just going through the motions.
I believe that spending time with God is not all peaches and cream all the time, because the presence of His perfection inevitably renders our imperfections obvious and sometimes painful. Especially if we have not regularly made time to do so, or are new to the routine, our flesh will certainly fight the Spirit. However, Psalm 16:11 says that “in His presence is fullness of joy”. The Word says that seeking God brings “restoration” (Jeremiah 29:14) and “life” (Amos 5:4), among many more things we need daily. As His creation, spending time with our Creator shouldn’t have to feel like a homework assignment.
Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your God time!
Talk to Him like a friend.
New believers often feel that they can’t pray or don’t know how. Even seasoned believers can feel this way, after spending much time in church and hearing the powerful prayers of professional preachers. The fact of the matter, though, is that praying is simply talking to God. In John 15:15, Jesus calls us His friends. It’s comforting to know, then, that we can talk to Him as such.
God can handle your emotions!
When I vent to or confide in my friends, sometimes I end up crying or yelling or simply speaking in circles. It doesn’t have to be any different with Him. God made you, remember? He constructed the circuit boards of your mind. He knows. Tell Him what’s upsetting you. Ask Him for things you need. Thank Him for things He’s done. Speak to Him like you would any friend who loves, cares for, and wants what’s best for you.
Follow a devotional.
Some consider this cheating, but I think it has its place. I use the YouVersion Bible App, and it holds an overwhelming number of devotionals. They have certain ones dedicated to specific Bible stories, topics, stages of life, and even your current emotions! They vary in length and complexity, so I’m positive anyone could find one to benefit him or her.
Devotionals are great because they provide direction and structure as it pertains to reading the Bible. Because the Bible is not necessarily chronological from Genesis to Revelation, it can be hard to figure out how to follow along. Also, without some assistance, sometimes things in the Bible are not clear. Devotionals often come with extra-Biblical explanations and examples. My favorites are the ones where the author provides real-life examples from his or her life. This tool really helps to more readily apply Biblical principles and knowledge to my current situations.
Engage your body.
This year, one of my goals is to increase my flexibility, hopefully to the point of achieving a full split. Another goal was, of course, to get more out of my God time. Recently, I have merged the two, and I think it has been great!
In a previous post (click here to read it), I wrote about how maintaining a kneeling posture has been beneficial for me in my prayer time. This still holds true, but I am glad to have tried something new. In the past few weeks, I have engaged in a circuit of stretches while praying, and I have left the sessions feeling restored- both spiritually and physically.
Although I do not subscribe to the religious origins of yoga, I have to admit that there’s something to be said about simultaneously engaging the mind, body, and soul. I have found this routine revitalizing for my prayer life, favorable for my physical body, and even valuable to my mental health.
Lean into your natural gifts.
Yes, the traditional structure of this time is praying and reading the Word, and those certainly are indispensable, but they don’t have to be the limit.
I believe that God gives us gifts so that we can display His image for nonbelievers, but also so that we have a personal way to connect and communicate with Him. What gifts has God given you?
If you like to write, journaling might be for you.
Use that God time to write letters to Him. Write about your day, what’s worrying you, what’s exciting for you. Reflect on a devotional or sermon. Ask Him questions. Through prose, poems, or something else, get it all out.
Interestingly, journaling can be impactful for non-writers as well. Documenting your daily (or weekly) life can really help you to recognize the patterns of God in your life. If you’re like me, you may tend to miss what God is doing. Sometimes I forget that the things I have now are the things I prayed for a year ago. Archiving my prayers and looking back on them later helps me to maintain a spirit of praise and thanksgiving in seasons where I struggle to maintain that outlook otherwise.
Perhaps you’re musical, and enjoy singing or playing an instrument.
As a musician myself, I can relate. I know the joy of playing my instrument and getting in a groove and just jamming out! Let me tell you, doing that for and with God makes it 100 times better! Worship songs come to life! God reveals things to me while I’m playing or singing. I find connections between the music and His character, and the experience is transcendent. If you relate to that, try incorporating your music into this time. Even if you don’t play or sing, but music moves you greatly, construct a “God Time” playlist, and push yourself to really meditate on lyrics.
Maybe it’s dancing or painting or even skateboarding or something else entirely!
You get the point. If God gave it to you, it can more deeply connect you to Him. Use it for Him, and you’ll see what I mean.
These are just some examples that have helped me. Your relationship with God is thoroughly dynamic so your special time with Him can be as well.
Photo Credit: TheFormFitness via Unsplash
Anomaly Jaie (A.J.) manages and writes for StudiedandApproved.com, a blog at the intersection of the Christian and student lifestyles. She is currently working toward graduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Public Administration, specializing in juvenile justice. In her free time, she likes to work out, play her guitar, and eat Publix rainbow sprinkle cookies.