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How to: Spend Time with God

Speaking to the Holy of Holies can be a little daunting at first, to say the least. For a new Christian, this can be one of the most dreaded things that comes with living the righteous life.

What if He won't answer me?

What if I can't hear anything?

What if (haha)...I'm bored?

Shh! Shh! I don't want to hear anymore 'what if questions'! In fact, I don't want to hear any doubtful questions right now. You just read.

Let me tell you a secret- All spending time with God is this talking to God and telling Him that you need Him in different ways.Then you listen for His response. It works just like a conversation. And just like a normal human friendship, it needs to be maintained everyday to be strong and continue thriving. What? You thought you could just talk to God on Tuesday and then not come back till the next Tuesday of next month? Doesn't work like that.
Actually, the more you spend time with God and search for Him, the more you start to crave Him. You want more and more of His peace and the direction and free-ness (excuse the made-up word) that you get from just dwelling in His presence.

So how do I get to this point, you ask? It's not hard. It's not complicated. It just takes a little bit of preparation.

I won't lie, one of the main tactics satan (yup, he doesn't even get a capitalization) loves to use against us is the weakness of flesh. Modern terms? Sleepiness. Drowsiness. "Not feeling like it today." And let me tell you, he's good at this. He'll use every excuse in hell to keep you in bed because he knows what power lies in spending time with God and drawing upon His strength.
Let me use a little Joyce Meyer on you- fight against it! Fight the tide! You're in a war, you're a soldier...and you're going to use mere sleepiness as an excuse to not get your strength for the day? To not spend time with your Creator, your Father? Does that sound like a valid excuse?

Now mind you, you're reading from the worst of them. I'm not a night owl, but I have been known to stay up a bit for a good movie. I like the luxury of having freedom to spend time with my family and have a little 'me' time after school and the rush of the day. But guess what? For God, I had to cut it short! And I was happy to do it, because I knew from the few days I'd gotten up early for quiet time, that it was worth it. But satan continued to fight me. For about a week, this was me:
Except of course, I'm a female, and the time was about 6 am. Now compared to my prayer time at 4:30 a.m., I smile and shake my head at how easy it would've been to shake him off and get up. My school schedule had me swamped, so for the time being I had prayer time in the afternoon. This is a great way to combat the wiles satan will use against you. God is understanding and knows you, knows your life, so if you're someone who works nights and can't possibly be up in the morning, don't despair. There is something about the morning that calls us. It must be the freshness of it all, and even in the earliest of times, the faint whoosh of cars passing by and the chirping of birds is evident...and beautiful. In the midst of all this freshness and blankness, I am called to worship at God's feet. To give thanks for the beauty around me, to ask for strength and help...and lots of great kingdom-spreaders and verses agree:

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." --Psalm 59:16 (NIV)

"With my soul have I desired you in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." --Isaiah 26:9 (KJV)

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;" --Psalm 61:3 (KJV)

"It is in private, in morning prayer, that our spiritual lives are both tested and strengthened." --Andrew Murray

"Walking the dawn-wind, Jesus, Heavenly Lover, in the still beauty of the waking morn, unveil Thyself to me, and with the vision shall come strength for trials yet unborn." --Amy Carmichael

You buying into the lie that it 'won't work' for you.

I know why last time you tried it didn't work. Why you think God somehow isn't listening to you.
Have you ever listened to Him?

Ever just truly listened to see what He says? You didn't come up with a shopping list, want, or even the slightest desire? Did you ever come "just to hear...what You would say" ("Word of God Speak," Mercyme)?

Unbelievers, or believers with no personal relationship with Jesus, tend to treat God like a genie. How would you like to be manipulated because of something you could do? Exactly. Imagine how He feels.
 Ponder this. God sees past, present, and future- all at once. If it pleases Him to not bless you with something you requested, it does not mean He didn't answer your prayer. It may not have been in the way you expected, but God does all things to work out for the righteous.

1. God speaks through your conscious.
You hear His voice all the time, telling you to do what you ought to do. You just choose to ignore this. -Honestly, if I just ask Him, He helps me find things!-

2. He speaks through the Bible.
This is the blatant, obvious truth no one wants to accept because the Bible is "boring". If you have issues reading the Bible, I suggest reading this post by Emily Mitton, one of my favorite bloggers ever, and be sure to grab a copy of the Bible that you can read comfortably. I personally own a copy of the NIV (basic Bible translation) that was given to me, but I often find myself running to my Message Translation version of the Bible for a clearer interpretation.

3. God speaks through signs and wonders (including speaking to you audibly!)
This is the most 'fascinating' part to most believers. Honestly, just getting to hear a message from Him in its entirety is a gift from Him. I don't know about you, but with all the gunk from the world, hearing from my Refuge is a pleasure for me. I've never heard Him audibly, but I think He knows if He does, it might scare me!

So He does speak to you. But you have to make it a priority first to see what He says without reservations. Through His word, through prayer, and sometimes, waiting. I can't show you how to listen for Him, but if you ask the Holy Spirit to, He will.

"I'm too busy."

Well, slow down! No wonder you find yourself half as efficient as you could be if you had God on your side, and I guarantee you wouldn't have half as much health and anxiety if you just cast-ed ('cast your cares upon me...) your day into God's hands! And you wonder why it feels like the world is against you...because it is.
As a believer, you are in this world, but you aren't of it. You're a spiritual being, here for a purpose, but you've also got a flesh side that thinks it can conquer anything by itself.

If you really want to commit to something, if you want something bad enough, you will make time for it- that I firmly believe. I may not know your situation, but Jesus knows everything there is to know about you. He understands if maybe you can't spend a straight hour with Him, but talking to Him in between chores is perfectly acceptable. This won't replace a regular, scheduled quiet time, but it does help you abide in the Spirit like we're instructed to do, and it improves our trust and relationship with Him.

I'm proud of you! You got this far. You are now educated in the ways of the enemy, and how to expect and avoid his temptations. You can't possibly look to spend time with God without expecting the enemy to try to ruin it. In this next part, I'll show you how exactly to operate your quiet time. This is not a word-for-word manual. You personalize it according to the leading of the Spirit, and like they say, what works for me may not work for you.

1. Open Your Heart (Worship)
Opening your heart doesn't come naturally. We, our flesh I mean, are used to keeping everything inside. But God wants us to pour out everything we have to Him "cast all your cares upon me." When you throw your heart out by singing worship songs that say exactly how you feel, something beautiful happens. You let your hair down, sing with all abandon, raise your hands, and begin to look like the woman to the left. You don't care anymore. You're open to Him. All you want is Him. This works best in private. When I first cried out to God for help, I was so broken I could barely work my voice. I sat numbly mouthing the words- but even that was worship to Him. Worship, true worship, is actually the highest respect we can give God. Check this out- from "Shachah (Hebrew word for worship) - "to depress, i.e. prostrate (in homage to royalty or God): bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship." How awesome! Isn't that encouraging? Worship isn't just singing songs. You can read psalms aloud, you can just lift your hands up and pray in tongues, you can shout and cry or silently pray. Whatever your style, set the tone of surrender and dependence on Him by worshiping first.

2. Prayer

Prayer. It's talking to God. It's telling Him your needs. It's reminding Him of what He promised you in the Bible. It's all those things in one. You can be free with your prayers. I have literally heard people slip into old King James' English right before my eyes while prayer, but they meant it earnestly. Like Pastor Joel Osteen puts it-"If you talk country, God talks country. If you talk New York, God talks New York." You voice out to Him, tell Him your needs, but be wary of praying prayers that sound more like shopping lists than a real longing for Him to reveal Himself to you. Tell Him the deepest desires of your heart, like you would your best friend. He wants to hear it from your lips, YOU openly telling Him, not just read it from your mind. You want to get married? Tell Him. He wouldn't have instilled that desire in you if He didn't have a full plan to carry it out. You want a baby? Pray the prayer Hannah prayed when she desperately wanted a baby. Prayer is not only talking to God, but it's having Someone blow off steam with, Someone who understands 100% how you feel, and who will never, ever leave you and spill your secrets to all your family friends. You can speak to Him like you would just a friend. Sometimes I say, "God, they did me wrong. So and so really did. It hurts, but I need you to give me Your grace and forgiveness to move on and forgive her. How many times have I hurt you? How many times have I forsaken you? Hundreds- but you love me the same, and never bring it up once you've forgiven me. Help me be like You." It's amazing. I feel better minutes after the prayer ends and already the anger subsides. Then, you thank Him in faith that He's done all that you asked, because you asked according to His will. Prayer works, I tell you!

3. Journaling
I journal everyday. Not only because I want to have a book of spiritual encouragement to give to someone special one day, but also to look back and read one day when I'm old and see how my love for Him has grown. Actually, the journal to the right is the one I got for my birthday last April. It's beautiful, isn't it? If you haven't heard about it yet, let me be the first to invite you to join the Journal Challenge hosted by Heather Lindsey. Go out and buy a journal- mine was bought at Barnes and Noble- and start journaling! After I've let God know of my needs, I wait. I'm silent, and I journal to Him usually whatever He puts on my heart. Sometimes, usually, it's a Scripture that has something to do with the message He's planned on speaking to me. Sometimes it's an immediate response to one of my questions. But always, He answers. Sometimes His answers are not so direct. It's in this quiet time, that God truly begins to work on my heart. While I read the Scriptures, sometimes, I don't get it. I switch translations. I wonder aloud to Him and ask Him what He meant by a specific verse. He replies. I read on. The conversation continues. He speaks peace, the only peace in the world that can keep me satisfied, to my heart and gives me instructions for the day (another benefit of meeting Him in the morning), and I praise Him for yet another answer to my prayers, and that He would reveal Himself to little 'ole me. It's an honor, a real honor, to be able to receive my Prince into my bedroom each morning. And trust me, once you've got Him in the start of your day, you'll never feel satisfied relying on your own strength to get through it.

So: what have you learned? Hopefully you can answer this question- and I truly hope this blesses you.

He loves you,


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