Monday, April 17, 2017

4 Tips for Spending Time with God

Can you think of a time when you first met someone? Do you remember the time you spent talking on the phone or texting? The intentional time you spent getting to know that person; learning about their ways, their character, and the stories that describe who they are? It was through learning and spending time that you found delight in them. I think we can certainly relate the unspoken laws of building relationships to spending time with our Lord. What does it mean exactly to spend time with God? What does it mean to build a relationship with Jesus? It’s something that we always hear people mention a lot, but sometimes don’t know how to go about actually doing it. When I first started walking with Jesus *for real* this was something that I struggled with. It was this big mystery; how to spend time with someone that I can’t actually see.

I spent a lot of time reading blogs and books on this very subject. But the two things I found most helpful were 1) Pursue it as you would any other relationship and 2) Just start. 
In today’s post, I will share some practical tips on how I prepare my heart to spend time with God and some of my favorite things to do with Him. I spend my time with Him in the morning. You don't have to do it in the morning. However, it's a great way to start and set the course of your day! I know some people who prefer to spend their time with God at night and it works for them. The most important thing is that you find what works for you and stick with it!

Find a Place to Go

“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”  {Matthew 6:6, NLT} 

I’d like to say that I use the same spot each time, but I don’t. I used to sit in my closet, you know the place where I hang up all my clothes and shoes (and yes I did this right after I saw War Room) but it was just too distracting for me. I always ended up thinking about my outfit for the day or how much I needed to clean the closet. Since I live in a one-bedroom condo, my actual closet is the only option if I wanted a “War Room.” So since that didn’t work for me, I now just sit in the lounge part of my couch or on the floor near my desk. I also started using this comfy chair in my dining room with just a desk lamp and some string lights. It seems so special in the morning (before the sun rises).  Some mornings we just spend time right in my room. It really just depends on the day and His leading. 

Get Dressed: Clean the Clutter and Pray for Guidance

“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” {Exodus 3:5, NLT}

This verse is such a beautiful image of God asking us to clear our thoughts of those things that we’ve picked up along our dirty road. Sometimes we come to God with a whole lot of baggage from our day. It’s difficult to focus on hearing God if things are all over the place. Be sure to keep your space (mental and physical) with God clean. Prepare your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that you may need to repent of.  Then ask for forgiveness. Give to God anything that weighs on your heart. Give those burdens to God and He will take care of you {Psalms 55:22}. I love to start from a place of thankfulness and worship; Listening to music or singing my own words of love and gratefulness. I sing and thank God for all that He is doing and just welcome Him into that moment. I dress myself in His presence. During my prayer, I ask Him to direct me, teach me, and guide me {Psalms 25:4-5} 

Listen to His stories: Read the Bible 

Study this book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. {Joshua 1:8, NLT} 

Whenever I read a devotional, I try to read the referenced scripture in the Bible first and allow the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts regarding the verse. I also read the scripture in several different Bible versions to help with understanding. This also allows me to soak in God's guidance with the verse just in case He wants to mention anything to me before I read someone else's revelation about the scripture. I prefer using the following Bible versions: New Living Translation (NLT), New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV), and The Message Bible. 
Just know, if you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savor, He dwells in you- The best teacher is the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to guide you and see how He leads you. Make sure you attend a good Bible teaching church to guide those revelations with wisdom, truth, and discernment. 

Share Your Heart and Reflect: Journaling 

Depending on how much I have on my mind, I will sometimes journal before I start anything in my quiet time for a quick brain dump. This is also another way to clear the clutter before you start your Bible reading. Sometimes I just write a verse that sticks out during my reading and from there I write whatever is placed on my heart. At times I may find that my journal writing may have nothing to do with the Bible verse at all.  I just start writing and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me. 

These are just a few tips that work for me. I spent a lot of time worrying where to start in my time with God, but it was when I started spending time with God that He began to shape our time together. Sometimes all I do is worship Him. I don’t always do everything in one sitting or in the exact order. Whatever you do just be sure to prepare your heart and welcome the Holy Spirit. This is not a checklist, it is a relationship, once you get to know Him, you start to understand what you like to do together. Just remember, if you hang out with friends or go on a date, you don’t always do the same thing, Every.Single.Time.  Just say no to a formula and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. If He wants you to just worship by singing and dancing; have fun and delight in Him. Be led by His Spirit.

In the next few weeks, I will share some of my favorite strategies when studying the Bible and even share a freebie or two!!!  Stay tuned! 
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