Every Christian struggles sometimes with not feeling close to God. All of us want to have meaningful encounters with God, but there are times when it just doesn’t happen. It can be REALLY frustrating.
What I’m about to share isn’t a guaranteed formula for connecting to God. I don’t have His unlisted number. But what I can share are a few tips that have helped me in some of the dryer seasons of my friendship with Him.
Pick a time and place
Whenever I’m about to spend time with a friend, whether it’s over lunch, coffee, or a movie we always set a time and a place to meet. It’s something we can count on as a way to know we won’t miss each other in the pace of life. I think we need to apply that same principle with God. We need to carve out time in our days to have appointments with Him.
That doesn’t mean God gets only 30 minutes of your day. Scripture teaches we should talk to God throughout our day. What it does mean is you intentionally schedule time to spend extended, focused time with Him that’s more than a minute here or there. It’s important to have those quiet moments to stop, be quiet, and make a connection too. But consistent and thoughtful times with God are vital to every Christian’s health.
Prepare the night before
Usually the most productive, meaningful, and less rushed days of my life don’t happen by accident. They typically happen when I make time the night before to get ready. Things as simple as making lunch, setting the alarm, ironing clothes, reviewing the calendar, and getting my supplies ready tend to make or break my day. If I don’t do these things beforehand I find I’m more stressed the rest of the day. When I do them I notice I have more space in my day for what I need and want to get done. The same is true with our appointments with God.
Have a reading plan
Not every time with God fits into the box of Bible reading, journaling, and prayer. But there is something to spending time with God in these ways. A good way to start is by picking a plan to help you read through the Bible. YouVersion.com has several custom plans. LifeJournal.cc has a neat one that takes you through the Bible in a year. There’s also hundreds of books for every stage and walk of life.
Your problem won’t be finding one. It’ll be choosing one. Don’t let analysis lead to paralysis. Choose one and go with it. If it doesn’t work, pick another. Eventually you will find one that’s right for you.
Have a recording plan
I like to write, so I’m a little biased here. There’s something to the practice of putting into words what’s on your mind that’s always been really helpful to me. Like the plethora of devotional plans, there’s just as many ways to record what you’re learning. The SOAP Method and Rick Warren’s Bible Study Method are two of my favorites. I like to record what I’ve learned in the Day One app on my iPad but a moleskin is just as good if you’re a more tactile person.
Whatever you decide, even if it’s just a tweet-sized sentence, or a verse that really stood out to you, write down what you learn.
Keep it in front of you
Take the sentence from your journal or that key verse and put it somewhere you’ll see throughout the idea. Maybe it’s on a postcard. Maybe it’s on the wallpaper of your computer or smart phone. It doesn’t really matter. Just have it with you throughout the day. Pause for 1 minute each hour and reflect on what God wants to say to you through it.
Having a meaningful quiet time is something all disciples want to do. But sometimes it’s hard in our loud world. And even when you follow these tips it may not always happen, but you’ll be more likely to having meaningful encounters with God when you plan and prepare for them.