If you read the previous blog and took to heart the tips for connecting with Jesus, you have set a time and place, and you have gathered the tools that you need to help you on your journey. Today I want to give you some elements (thing to do) for connecting with Jesus and in later posts we will fill out each element.
Again, remember the goal of your time with God is to develop a relationship with God. So the following things are not a check list to run through, but ways to put yourself in a place to encounter God.
1. Worship and Thanksgiving (Psalm 100: 4-5)
At the start of your time alone with God, I would suggest that you give thanks for three things about God that you are thankful for. (i.e. His faithfulness, His love, His kindness) Then take time to thank God for three things in your life that your are thankful for. Some people record these things in their journal. This can be really encouraging over time.
If you are new to the faith I would suggest that you start in the book of John. If your new to devotions I would suggest you start in Ephesians. Or course, you may choose whatever New Testament book you want for this exercise. You are going to progressively work through this book over the next little while. I would suggest that you read slowly through 4 to 10 verses and then read them again. The idea is not to get through the passage, but let the passage get into you. What is God saying to you in this passage? We will look at how to work through scripture in a future post.
There are a lot of different kinds of prayers. We will look at some of them in the future. But here are a few of the really important ones.
a) Prayer of Examine
In this prayer, you look at yesterday. You ask God (and yourself), where did I see you at work? Did I sin against you by doing things I know I shouldn’t have done, or by not doing things I should have done? (If you have – then confess it knowing that God is full of grace and mercy) Ask yourself - What is God trying to teach me and what did learn?
b) Prayer list. - Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
I have four different prayer lists. I have a short term prayer list, where I expect to pray for people for a couple of weeks to a couple of months. I have a long term prayer list. My family and our church is on that prayer list. I have a personal Prayer list – What am I asking God to do in my life? I pray through those prayers lists almost every day. I then have an occasional prayer list. These are people and organizations that I pray for when I have the time and inclination.
c) Listening Prayer
Taking time to be quiet in God’s presence, and asking him questions? Again, I hope to look at this in the future.
You won’t find journaling in the scriptures, although the Psalms are a form of journaling. What I have found is that I have a bad memory. Journaling what we are thankful for, what God showed us in the scriptures, what God taught us as we prayed the prayer of examine, and what God said to us as we asked him questions and listened to him are all things that we are prone to forget unless we write them down. Your journal is for you. It is a way of honouring the life that God has given you. It is a way of remembering what he is teaching you.
5. Other Elements
The above elements are the most important. There are other elements that I often incorporate into my time with God. I often have instrumental music playing in the background. I am usually drinking coffee. (Just keeping it real) I sometimes will read a few pages of a devotional book. I will often incorporate different kinds of prayers than the ones listed above.
It is going to take you a few days to put these things into practice without hitting glitches. But there is no time like the present to start.
Time Alone with God – Cheat Sheet (Copy this to your journal)
Worship: 3 things about God and 3 things about your life that you are thankful for.
Scripture: Read slowly through 4-10 verses twice. What is God say to you?
Prayer of Examine: Where did you see God at work? Did you sin? (if so confess) What is God teaching you?
Prayer list: Short Term List, Long Term List, Personal List, (Occasional List).
Listening Prayer: Quietness in his presence. Ask him your questions?
Journaling: Record what you experienced in this time.