Connecting with God
By Deitra Shoemaker
Speaker Bill Hybels said, “No one can become an authentic Christian on a steady diet of activity. Power comes out of stillness; strength comes out of solitude. Decisions that change the entire course of your life come out of the Holy of Holies, your times of stillness before God.”
How often do we substitute our Christian activity, good as it may be, for spending time with God; being still before Him, waiting to sense His presence and hear His voice? Even our quiet times with Him can be more like dropping off a grocery list of requests into God's celestial mailbox without giving Him a chance to open it and respond.
As women in ministry who desire to be effective for God, it is essential that we connect with God, allowing Him to fill us with Himself so we can give to others out of our storehouse. A desire to reconnect with God on a deeper level through prayer journaling maybe just the tool you need. Prayer journaling is writing down your thoughts to God and then journaling what He says back to you. The goal of prayer journaling is building a relationship with God, knowing Him more through listening to His voice.
Many of you have journaled during your quiet times, writing down your prayer requests or how you feel about a certain circumstance in your life. Listening to what God wants to say to you makes prayer journaling unique. As you experience Him firsthand through this listening process, you have something significant to share with others: a personal two-way relationship with God that is truly life-changing because it is connecting with God on an intimate level. God loves to give you His answers. This can make the Word come alive in your life and bring truth where you need it most.
I experienced this during a difficult season of my life while adjusting to a recent job change that led us to move three states away from all I had known for the past 20 years. During my Bible study I was reading about Lot's wife looking back while fleeing Sodom and turning into a pillar of salt. As I focused on that Scripture and asked God how that applied to me, He said, “Focus on what you have, not on what you left behind. You cannot look back or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt! A pillar cannot move, but only remain in one place; I want you to move on, hard as it may be.” How uplifting those words were to me. I had a sense that God knew my circumstances and my grieving heart, and yet He gave me the hope of better things in store for my future.
Often a devotional book will speak to exactly where I am. Recording these words used by God brings clarity to a particular issue that is burdening me. Then I reference the quote with the book title, author and page so that I can refer back to it. Here is an excerpt from my journal that reflects this:
Last night I woke up about 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. This has been happening a lot this week. I toss and turn, get angry at losing sleep, then ask You, “What do You want me to do? And You say, “Pray.” So I try to quiet my mind and allow the Holy Spirit to put on my heart who I should pray for. And people always come to mind. Then this morning during my quiet time I read “A Prayer for Quiet” in Richard Foster's Prayers from the Heart. It talked about how hard it is to silence the inner clamor of the mind. I think that's why You take the opportunity to ‘speak’ to me in the middle of the night, because not only is it silent without, but my mind is fairly silent within. Help me to embrace those times with You in the middle of the night as special.
Psalm 4:4 says “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”
Psalm 119:149 says, “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.”
It is not everyday that I get that “aha” kind of experience, but it happens more often when I am looking for insights to record in my journal rather than just rushing through my reading to be done with it. Journaling about an experience like this makes it more real to me. Something unique happens during the writing process. As I listen for God's perspective I understand more and more what He is trying to get me to see. Journaling takes me beyond mere logical thinking to an experience with God that makes me feel personally connected to Him. You might say that prayer journaling is akin to Christian meditation. It allows you to slowly chew on a few thoughts to get the most out of them.
Listening to God is what connects us to Him in an intimate way. Prayer journaling is an effective tool to hearing God and one you may want to try. As you do, you will experience benefits beyond your wildest imagination, not only in your own life, but in a way that enables you to become the woman of ministry you long to be.