These are truly crazy times we are living in thanks to COVID-19.
Never before have we spent so much time in our houses with literally nothing to do.
With the efforts in place to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, we can no longer look to the methods of connection, activity, and distraction that we have come to rely on so strongly.
And when it comes to matters of God and our own faith or spirituality, many of us find ourselves turning inward and wondering what’s really there when we don’t have the Sunday mornings, the powerful music, or the in-depth bible studies to rely on.
Now all we have is ourselves, and God, and a lot of silence.
So how do you connect with the divine on your own?
Do you have experience with mediation and contemplation?
Do the words “solitude” and “silence” make you cringe?
Well I’m here to help.
This is the first in a 3-part series on developing a lifestyle of prayer and meditation. Putting these three steps into consistent action is the best way to start experiencing a constant connection to God. Learning to hear God’s voice is more than a one-time practice or 30 seconds on Sunday. To hear God’s voice is about a way of life.
Make sure to check out the next two articles to get the full picture of meditation and learning how to hear God’s voice
or you can click here to get them sent automatically sent to your inbox once they become available.
Step 1: Authentically Crying Out to God
As this is a very important part of developing a spiritual life with deep roots, I have already written about this specific topic a couple of times. Those articles are titled God! Speak to Me! and Start Where You Are. Check those out if you want a deeper look around the idea of authenticity, prayer, and crying out to God.
The Only Place to Start
Before we can just jump into nirvana-like presence with God, we have to make ourselves fully open and available to God. Not just our physical selves by what we do, where we work, or how we serve in ministry. We have to make ourselves available mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And if we are to make ourselves fully available and open to God, that means we have some deconstruction to do. No, not the kind of Christian deconstruction you’re probably thinking. I’m not talking about deconstructing all your beliefs before you can commune with God. I’ll get to that in other posts, don’t worry.
The type of deconstruction I’m talking about is literal…
it’s technically still metaphorical…
what I’m talking about is the breaking down of walls!
We all have barriers that we have unintentionally built between us and God due to our culture, our upbringing, and the one little word that has made Brene Brown a household name:
When we try to pray or to be present with God, all of us have blocks that we have built up in our brains. Without really knowing it, we present to God only what we want him to see.
It’s just like when you’re trying to impress a potential significant other. You will likely shine more light on your positive qualities or on things you think they will like; things like your athletic ability, your high intelligence, or the list of charitable activities you’ve taken part in.
You may want them to see your lights sense of humor rather than your weighty existential crises.
You want them to know about how healthy you are and not so much about the half gallon of ice cream you eat every Saturday night.
You work hard to portray a casual attitude rather than come out guns blazing with your crippling anxiety about the meaningless of life and the struggle to connect with other human beings.
Of course you would rather show these positive aspects and hide the negative.
You want them to like you, after all.
We do the same when we try to engage God. Whether in prayer, meditation, even in worship services, we unconsciously work hard to only present the things that we think will be appropriate and pleasing to him.
We list of our “Thanks you fors” to him before asking for help to show we have gratitude.
We pray for the needs of others before our own so we show God we can be selfless.
Even when things are crippling us emotionally, many of us still say things like
“if it’s in your will”
“if it pleases you”
“if you see fit,”
rather than saying what we’re really thinking and feeling which for me often sounds more like,
“What the hell!?!?! I thought you loved me! I CANNOT handle this anymore!
I NEED YOU to get your act together and SHOW UP!
You said you would never leave nor forsake me so PROVE IT!”
Be honest…would you say that to God?
Would you shout it?
Have you before?
What to do instead
Before we can ever talk about connecting with God or living a life of prayer, we have to get to a place where there is complete openness and authenticity so the relationship has a chance of being a REAL RELATIONSHIP!
You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t know or someone who doesn’t show you any part of their real self.
Prayer starts with authentically crying out to God.
Letting God into your mess,
Into your shame,
Into your unadulterated joy
And your unconfined frustration.
And if you are worried that God will strike you down for being ungrateful or irreverent, then you probably don’t really believe in a loving God.
It sounds like you believe in a petty and pedantic God that loses his temper at the slightest little thing.
A good dad doesn’t lose his mind and punish his children for crying.
A good mom wouldn’t abandon a child for having needs and say,
“I’m so disappointed in you. Can’t you just be grateful.”
Good parents respond to their children’s heartfelt needs and cries with love, attention, affection, and wisdom.
So do you want to hear from God?
Do you want to connect with him on a deep intimate level?
Do you want to move toward a life of “unceasing prayer?”
You can’t go anywhere without the authenticity that comes from crying out.
I would find a place where you can cry, shout, scream, or wail if that’s what it looks like for you to get TOTALLY honest with God.
If you are not one for shouting, or if you are concerned God might get upset and retaliate, then try writing it down somewhere.
If you do this option, try not to think about your words. Just start writing how you feel. Write whatever comes to your mind and don’t try to edit or revise it.
You can always look back at it once your done or burn it if you need to.
But whatever you do, get as authentic and real as possible.
You can’t have a real relationship with someone who won’t open themselves up to you
and God won’t force you to.