My Half Day with God
Warning! Satan will do anything he can to bring distractions into your life to try to have you make a choice to do something good versus the great thing of staying true to your time alone with God.
The Day Before
– Pick your spot
Think of a place that is quiet…away from buildings and people. You may not want to choose a monastery (this takes more advance panning!) but a short walk to a quiet glade of trees or even a private park bench. Don’t be too ambitious…pick a place where you can get still and relaxed quickly. It is funny how the mind will try complicate things or postpone quiet mediation with distractions.
– Get good nights sleep – so you don’t fall asleep while you pray
– Prepare what to take:
- Pen and Highlighter
- Notebook or journal
- Snack or picnic lunch
- Pillow (for prayer not for sleep!)
- Blanket (if cold or outdoors to sit/lay on
- Optional – Guitar or some other quiet, portable instrument you play
Before you leave
Have a good healthy breakfast…or fast intentionally for the purpose of growing your faith (no “Brownie” points earned with God here), drinking only water until the retreat is done
– When you arrive
1. Get comfortable but not in a position where you could fall asleep.
2. Thanksgiving – write a list of twenty five things you are thankful to God for. Lift each one to God in prayer, thanking Him!
3. Praise – read psalm 145 all of the way through. Now read it again, but this time out loud. Read it as an exclamation of worship to God…with enthusiasm! Don’t be self conscious…it is only you and Him together!
4. Meditation and Lectio Divina – Called “Feasting on the Word of God, this ancient Christian practice will both center and calm your inner thoughts, and allow you to focus only upon the Lord and His words to your heart. Here are some passages that we have found helpful. move through them slowly, with deep but gentle breathing.
Welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to “guide you into all truth”. Turn to these passages and read the verses in their context. The Psalm writers introduced a word that describes what we are doing here…it is called “Selah” and it means, stop, take a moment and ponder, meditate on, what you just read.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6-7
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? – Psalm 42:11
Be still (literally, “sit still and shut up”), and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress – Psalm 46:10-11
My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come” Song of Solomon 2:10
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Hear me that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:1,3
Come to me, all you who are weary (exhausted) and burdened (toil from weights on your shoulders or from grief and sorrow), and I will give you rest” – Matt 11:28
Come near to God (you initiate) and He will come near to you”- James 4:7-9
Read Psalms 139 one verse at a time and then take notes/reflect on each verse whenever anything seems important to you. This exercise could/should take the better part of an hour or longer.
5. Repentance – this always will occur and may happen after step 2 or 3 as well. When you stop the craziness and be alone with God, He will bring things to mind that He has wanted for you to see about your life. For many of us humans, this is a subconscious reason why we may stay so busy!
Memories will be triggered to let you know you need to confess your attitude or actions as sin before Him. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). The Father may even bring someone to mind that you will need to go to in order to ask them to forgive you. Write that down along with the things you confess to Him. We are told in the bible to come “boldly before the throne of grace” to find mercy (Hebrews 4:15-16) and that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)
5. Listening – be still now before Him. Take 3-4 slow deep breaths, imagining God’s spirit coming into you with his refreshing presence. Invite God to speak (He uses quiet whispers) to your heart. “Practice” His presence for 20 minutes this time…maybe kneeling or even laying out on your face before God. Have your notebook handy for two reasons;
a) Your meditations from Psalm 139 can inspire you to think on Him
b) If you get a random thought (and you will) don’t be discouraged. Simply write it down, and then return to silent listening.
5. Change your body – invite your body to a god stretch 9like in the gym) or get up, have a drink and take a short walk, continuing in silence and meditative thought.
6. Return to reading, this time, try reading any of the passages below, taking personal notes that speak to your life:
Genesis 1-3; John 1-3; I Corinthians 13; Ephesians 6; Matthew 13
7. Re-enter into the stillness of focusing on his presence. This time, only listen. Still your mind to only think on Him and His presence around you. Then imagine Him flowing into you.
Finally, imagine you flowing into Him and being lost in His embrace and the being of His all accepting love. Ask God to fill you and then imagine yourself being filled with the Holy Spirit, abiding there for another 10 or 15 minutes…or longer if you can
8. Sit or stand up and get relaxed again. Stretch one more time and take 3-4 deep breaths.
9. Reflections – write down any notes about what you felt or heard during this time. Are there some things you’d like to change about your life or your practice of prayer? Make an appointment to come back again…or to set aside a full day (or even two days) to be alone with God again in your calendar. Don’t let anything change your resolve to making that appointment. Like it was with Jesus and his Father, there is never a higher priority than to be alone with God.