I’ve always loved journaling. I’ve been immortalizing my thoughts in notebooks since the tender age of nine and have found it to be a great way to sort my feelings, clarify my thoughts, and process my experiences.
As a young adult, I noticed something. Whenever I went through a phase where I wasn’t journaling much, I didn’t feel as close to God. On the other hand, when I engaged in heartfelt communion through my written prayers and conversation I was much more likely to experience His encouragement and guidance. As I explored this phenomenon, I came to see that journaling isn’t just a nice way to express myself; it is one of the top ways God speaks to me.
I know now that journaling is a key spiritual discipline I need to maintain if I want to make the most of my time with God.
Along the way, I’ve also discovered a few other particularly powerful ways for me to connect with God, such as through my dreams, savoring the beauty of creation, and quiet walks outside. Because these practices prime me to experience God in a deeper way, I do my best to make them a priority.
Making the most of your time with God
Maybe journaling or quiet walks aren’t your thing. Just as we all have unique personalities and ways of relating to the world around us, we each have unique, individualized ways of hearing from God.
What are yours?
Do you feel closest to God while playing an instrument? Working in the garden? While serving a friend or neighbor? Advocating for the disadvantaged? Through dreams or visions? Through researching biblical passages in their original language?
There’s no wrong answer, and there are so many examples in the Bible of various ways of hearing from, connecting to and showing love for God.
David wrote poetry and was a keen observer of nature. He also danced, played the harp, and sang to express his exuberant love for God.
Jesus told Peter to show his love for him by “feeding” (caring for and teaching) other Christians (see John 21:17).
Author Gary Thomas points out that Moses connected to God through social activism, while Mary simply sat quietly at Jesus’ feet. Thomas states, “These and other biblical figures of the Old and New Testaments confirmed to me that within the Christian faith there are many different and acceptable ways of demonstrating our love for God. Our temperaments will cause us to be more comfortable in some of these expressions than others—and that is perfectly acceptable to God. In fact, by worshipping God according to the way he made us, we are affirming his work as Creator…There is great freedom in how we can meet with and enjoy God. This is by his design and according to his good pleasure.”
Thomas also suggests that if you’re feeling lackluster in your spiritual walk, you may “need a change in your spiritual diet.” Discover what really nourishes your soul, he says, and see what a difference it makes in your spiritual walk.
I know from my own experience this is so true. Finding and nurturing the things that bring me closest to God has done so much to deepen my experience of Him.
(Thomas has actually created an entire classification of nine spiritual temperaments, which he explains in his book Sacred Pathways. While I personally did not fit into any one temperament, but rather had prominent characteristics from three or four categories, I appreciate his validation of the many ways we can love and experience God. If you’re interested in his classification, you can check out his book here. You can also take his free spiritual temperament assessment here.)
Of course, as Christians who want to grow spiritually, nothing can substitute for the foundational practices of reading the Bible, prayer and worship. But how, when and where we do them are going to look different for each person.
Finding our unique ways of connecting to God and pursuing Him in these ways can bring a depth to our relationship that we might not achieve any other way. It’s all part of this beautiful adventure of faith and love, this relationship in which God wants to meet us individually and uniquely! Get creative and enjoy the journey!
Then they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the evening. Genesis 3:8 (NLV)
I want to hear from you!
What practices prime you to experience God in a deeper way? How do you hear Him best? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
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