Everyone hears and spends time with the Lord in all kinds of different ways. I first began seriously following the Lord in 2008. That was 10 years ago and like any relationship it has taken time and intentionality to grow in intimacy. I am a real believer in living with a raised awareness of God's presence all around you. In this post, I am going to give a few insights into having a "quiet time" or focused time alone with the Lord. Some seasons are different than the others. Some seasons, we have cute little screaming babies to wake up to instead of our steaming coffee. Some seasons we are rushed on time, burnt out or spiritually starving. Some seasons we are sustained by manna instead of milk and honey, and thats okay! Living with a constant awareness of God, His positioning and His movement is key to growing in our relationship with Him. No matter where you are, God is around you. Psalms 139 says-
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you."
The Lord is all consuming and ever present. He is with us at the grocery store, on the stair climber (thank you Jesus), in our classes, on our dates and in our rooms when we are a lone. He is in our services and our locker rooms. He is constantly pursuing and speaking to us. It is our level of awareness that determines our ability to discern where the Lord is taking us and what He is doing to move us closer to Him. Living a life that keeps the line open between you and God all day every day is what it's all about. Jesus freed us from legalism. Some mornings, you won't have two uninterrupted hours of "coffee and the word." But you can breathe in his presence when your feet hit the floor. You can close your eyes and thank God for waking you up each day. You can see God in your conversations, in the rustling aspen trees and in the sunset on your evening commute home. He is available to talk in the office, on the subway and on your way to class. Establishing a routine in which you take the time to quiet your soul, listen to His voice, renew your mind in the word and pour out your heart to God is a practice that can only deepen your intimacy with Christ. Your alone time with God will change in every season, but as much as you can establish a rhythm in which you relate to Christ you will see so much fruit begin to blossom in your life! Here are some things I do when spending time with God.
1. Establish a place- Almost every morning I wake up, make my coffee and sit in my rocking chair near my front window. Having a designated space set apart to read, pray and journal helps me get my mind and heart in the right space to focus on the Lord. I don't do much else in this rocking chair besides my morning quiet time so when I go there, my heart and mind are triggered to settle in for a little while and let all my other worries just melt away. Your spot could be the corner booth in your favorite coffee shop, your living room sofa, your favorite hammock spot in the woods or your rocking chair! Try to pick a spot where you don't do anything else. This will help stimulate your mind and heart to be fully present whenever you get settled.
2. Take a few breaths- One of the reasons why I love holding my coffee mug so much in the morning is it reminds me to just take a second to breathe. I think it's so easy to plop down and just go through your routine and totally miss the point of creating a time in your schedule to spend with the Lord. Taking a second before diving into your devotional or writing all your early morning anxious thoughts to close your eyes, breathe in deep and remember that God is all around you is a game changer. Try taking a few breaths and telling the Lord "Goodmorning". Spend a few minutes being full of gratitude. Spend a few minutes looking at Jesus and asking him what he wants to say today. Take a moment to BE before you spend your day DOING.
3. Silence- This one isn't something I do every morning, but it is something I try to make a practice of. We go through out our entire days being bombarded by noise. Rarely, does our heart have the opportunity to perk up and tell us the truth of how it's doing. Silence allows our scared little hearts to really feel. It allows us to clear away the noise and truly bring some deep things before the Lord. Want to raise your awareness of the Lord through out your day? Spend a few minutes first thing in the morning in silence waiting on the Lord.
4. Journal- This is something you may or may not already be doing. I have journaled almost everyday since the 1st grade. I tend to be an internal processor, so journalling is a good place to get things out in an organized (or sometimes not-so) way. Something amazing about keeping a journal is the way you can look back at your narrative with Christ. It's a special thing to look back at previous entries and remember the ways God has been answering your prayers all along. Write down your thoughts, things the Lord is telling you, verses that mean a lot to you in the present season, sermons, words from other people and even your favorite quotes or song lyrics. You have no idea what these words might mean to you later down the road.
5. Devos- I am not a huge devotional person, but there are a few that I LOVE! I am going to list a few below and post the links so that you can get them and love them too. Sometimes, having the right devotional in the right season can supplement your relationship with the Lord. A devotional should never replace your practice of hearing the Lord for yourself. But, it can be such an awesome tool to challenge, push and inspire you! Here are some of my favorites below:
My Quiet Time Routine-
Some of us have been in the practice of having a daily quiet time with the Lord for awhile now. But for those of us who may just be starting out, it can feel daunting to know where to start. The key is to remember that your walk with the Lord is a relationship, and like any relationship, it ebbs and flows. As you begin to know the Lord and as you allow him closer to you, you will find the things you like to do together. You will learn the ways in which He is speaking to you. You will begin to be familiar with His character and nature. I have been in a relationship with the same man for a year now. I can predict what he will want before he says he wants it. I know all of his favorite things and his pet peeves. Our relationship with the Lord is very similar. The more time you spend together, the more you will begin to know what the Lord wants, what he likes, what he doesn't like and where he wants to go. You will change the way you spend time together through every season, but I hope this template gives you some idea of where to start!
1. Close your eyes and breathe- I usually pour my coffee, sit in my rocking chair, close my eyes and take a deep breath. I picture Jesus sitting there with me. I take a few minutes to just soften my heart towards Him and just give Him the time and space to say something if He wants. During these first few minutes of silence, my own heart is being given the chance to speak up if it wants too. Sometimes, I will notice that I woke up anxious or stressed. This is a great opportunity to lay my cares down at the Lord's feet first thing in the morning. Sometimes, I will hear the Lord asking me to pray for something or someone. Other times, I will just spend a moment expressing gratitude for everything I have and begin the rest of my routine.
2. Open up the scriptures- I usually like working through a few books of the Bible. If you are just now becoming familiar with reading your Bible, the Gospels are a great place to start. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are called the Gospels as they tell the story of Jesus Christ. I usually like to read a few Psalms and then go into whatever other books I am reading that day. Lately, I have been reading through Exodus and Colossians. Don't get caught up when you don't understand something you're reading. The Bible is a complex and beautiful narrative. Take note of the verses that move your heart and jot down questions that may arise. This is all a part of the process! Using a reading plan or Bible study may help too. Here are some I like linked below-
3. Journal- Sometimes I do this right at the beginning and sometimes I wait until after I have spent some time reading. I like to journal in the mornings, particularly if I wake up feeling a little off. Journaling helps me to process my emotions and identify possible lies that I am believing. I like to write down things I hear the Lord saying to me, verses that have meant a lot to me in that season and even goals and dreams.
4. Prayer- When we are just beginning, prayer can often feel awkward and nerve wracking. Don't worry. This is a friendship, remember? Take some time in the morning to talk to Jesus like a friend. Tell Him what's on your mind and leave some time to quiet yourself and hear His response. Sometimes, God will put a person or a situation on your heart to pray for. This means you are feeling the heart of God and that is a huge privilege. Another way I love to pray is with scripture. Often times, I will find a prayer in Psalms or in Paul's letters and pray that over my day, my family, my friends and the people God may want me to love on that day.
Scripture- "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3: 16-18
Prayer- "Father, I as that you would strengthen me through your power in my inner man and ask that you would dwell in my heart through Fatih. I pray that I would be a woman rooted and established in love and that I would have the power, together with all of God's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep your love is and that I would truly know your love that go beyond what we have seen. I ask that you would fill me with your fullness."
5. Worship- I usually enjoy having some light acoustic worship music playing during my quiet time, while I am getting ready and on my drive to work. Singing out God's praises align my mind and heart with the truth. This has made the hugest difference in my attitude, energy level and ability to choose the fruits of the spirit through out the rest of my day. Sing yourself into the truth. If you are needing some good worship music, click these links!
6. Podcasts- Last one. I listen to a lot of podcasts in the morning. Being a millennial in the 21st century finds its perks in the fact that we have access to so many good things via the internet. There are loads of amazing sermons, teachings and even encouraging interviews online. Click HERE to see what podcasts I have been listening to lately.