The Inner Work: Part 2
As we wrap up our last couple of posts from our series on God’s image and likeness, I’m going to give some practical ideas here on how to connect with God. I’m hesitant to do this because what’s most important is what is unseen. There are not magical practices that if you simply follow these things you will have this holy life. I’ll give you some things I do, but it’s important to understand that there could be someone who does these things exactly…even better…than I do, but doesn’t grow to know, submit, hear, and obey like I do. On the other hand, there can be someone who does none of these things, but has a purer heart for Him and knows, submits, hears, and obeys better than I do thus experiencing more of the true life He offers. Two months ago at the Kingdom Symposium, I was posed the question of how to grow closer to God and I feel like I should give some ideas.
Setting aside devotional time is extremely important. The more you grow, the more every moment of your life is time spent with God. But no matter how much you grow, the time you spend alone and concentrating on Him is essential.
Worship, Praise, Prayer, and Listening are all important. Hopefully semantics are not getting in the way. I mean that you should spend time worshiping the Lord. I love doing this to good worship music. You should spend time praising the Lord for who He is and the many ways that He has and will bless you. Praying is important, but listening for His voice is just as important. Be still! A book I recommend to help you get started is “The Art of Listening Prayer” by Seth Barnes.
This year I am doing a reading plan that covers the entire Bible in a year. I mentioned two months ago to the group and said that I was merely doing it as a discipline and almost never hear from God in it. Well, perhaps He didn’t like that answer because I must say that I have heard from Him on occasion in amazing ways during these times since. I started out doing it because I want to always know the Word better, but of course, He can teach whenever He desires to.
One of the most powerful ways I’ve been taught by God is to Ask the Lord for a scripture. In these times, a book, verse, or chapter will come to me and I will go there to see what it says. At times, it leads to a simple revelation and at other times, I end up spending half the day and more with the Lord as He teaches me powerfully through what is there. He gives understanding that applies to other areas, whether my own life or more recently for me, about the world at large. I don’t actually do this often, and I feel like if I made it a regular daily exercise it would much more often be less fruitful. As it is, it is very often fruitful. I believe that the Lord is giving me the idea to ask Him for a scripture and that is why it yields such fruit. Of course, He is amazing in His faithfulness and if this is a new concept to you, I beg you to try it. I pray now that He opens up a wonderful passage for you and that you come away with not only new wisdom, but a new hunger for meeting the Lord!
I have friends that in much the same way are often led to simply open up the Bible wherever it opens and then are taught by the Lord in these spots. Of course He can do this, but this hasn’t been something that has happened to me much, if at all.
Another important thing that I do is contemplating what those I know are hearing from the Lord (either whom I fellowship with or who put stuff out there) have said or written. This is sometimes spoken fellowship and sometimes reading the writings or listening to the teachings of those who are moving with the Spirit in what He is doing in this hour.
The most important thing is to be prayerful throughout your day. Do you judge the events of your day based upon your flesh and soul, or do you invite God into your day and seek His wisdom on every occurrence? Do you look for the ways that He is moving in the circumstances and interactions in your day? The more you tune your heart, mind, and soul to listen to God, the more you can receive from Him. He does not force Himself on people, but is very gentle. You must make yourself available to Him!
Journaling is really important. I don’t do nearly enough of this. Writing things out is really powerful for me because it forces me to slow down and bring flesh to simple ideas that He has shown me. It has happened to me many times that I receive some understanding from the Lord, but I don’t write it down and it’s lost. In similar situations, if I do receive this bit of understanding, and I write it down, as I’m doing so, I get more and deeper understanding. Whether you write in a journal (best) or type out your thoughts, I encourage you to take the extra time to capture your revelation from the Lord.
This is Part 12 in the series Bearing the Image and Likeness of God. To continue with this series, click on Pt 13. To use this as a growth tool to better understand your own calling, please read Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Pt 6, Pt 7, Pt 8, Pt 9, Pt 10 and Pt 11.