In my last blog, I confessed how frantic my brain can be sometimes when I’m trying to spend time with God. That blog stated the “problem,” and I ended it by saying that I was trusting God to give some “solutions” to share in this blog. Well, the reason I’m late in posting this blog is because God took me in a different direction. I ended up with a blog of more than 2000 words! Rather than subject you to all that at one sitting, I’m going to give you the first part today and the second part later in the week. The next blog won’t be “Unplugging! Part 3” because God shifted gears a bit on me, and it’s a subject that I suspect will yield more blogs in the coming days (or weeks or months). So today it’s practical ideas to help control a misfiring brain – to help you focus on God and enter into His presence. The next blog will be the beginning of a discussion on more underlying lifestyle issues (be afraid, be very afraid!).

Controlling the Misfires
If you’re like me, you sometimes sit down to be with God and your mind repeatedly interrupts your reading or prayer. I refer to these distractions as “misfires.” Sometimes the misfires are of God, but usually they’re a result of my mind moving forward to all the things of the day, instead of resting with and before the Holy One, because, quite frankly, most of us are much better at moving than we are at resting. Here are some basics to help you quiet yourself so that you can enter God’s presence more regularly:

  • Have a consistent time where you meet with God. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day. Although consistency works best, if your schedule doesn’t allow it your “God time” might be at 6am on Mondays and Wednesdays, and at 3pm every other day.
  • Have a consistent place where you meet God. I have two. During the week, I usually meet with God at my desk in my home office. On weekends, I have a reclining chair in which I sit when I meet with God. It doesn’t have to be a place that is exclusively for meeting with God.
  • Be “legalistic” about meeting with God in your scheduled time and place. (For all you anti-legalistic “freedom” folks, relax, I’ll get to you.) Consistency establishes lifestyle patterns. Over time, you will come to anticipate meeting with God at your “scheduled” time and place. The location and time become “set apart” – holy to the Lord – and simply going there begins to set your mind, heart and spirit in a mode that is receptive to hearing from God.
  • Keep the distractions in your meeting place to a minimum. For example, when I meet with God at my desk, it’s important that I NOT open e-mail or look at my to-do list when I sit down. On days when I am more distracted than others, I sometimes cover up papers on my desk that might take my mind elsewhere. When I meet with God in my recliner, I let the answering machine take phone messages for me.
  • Deal with distractions creatively. It’s the enemy who is distracting you from meeting with God. Use the distractions for good. When I meet with God in my reclining chair, I can easily be distracted by pictures on the wall or books on the shelves or any of a number of other things in our living room. I can use those distractions as reminders to pray for family members or life situations.
  • Find a pattern for meeting with God that works for you. This may require trying several different things over a period of time before you find that pattern that draws you into God’s presence. Don’t be discouraged, don’t quit trying, and don’t limit yourself. The time and place are just the first two elements of the pattern.
    • I like to have a cup of tea and a piece of toast during my quiet time. God and I have breakfast together.
    • You might relax with God better with soft music in the background. For me, that’s usually distracting or it puts me to sleep.
    • You might want to begin with vibrant worship. I love to do this, but I usually can’t make the transition from vibrant worship to quietly sitting with God, so I don’t begin my quiet time with vibrant worship, but it sometimes ends with it.
    • Maybe sitting with a drawing tablet or at an easel puts you in a place to hear God easily.
    • Lighting a candle helps some people quiet their spirit and focus on the Lord.
    • Think about how God has created you. You are probably most easily able to hear from God when you are relaxing in your area of gifting.
  • Be sure to have some kind of visual cue that draws you toward God in the place that you meet with Him. This visual cue can help you get back on track when your brain misfires.
  • ALWAYS begin with prayer. ALWAYS begin with prayer. ALWAYS begin with prayer. It can be so easy for me to plop down in my place, begin munching on my toast and reading Scripture, just as if I’ve dived into a novel. Ouch! It’s great that I look forward to being with God, but hey, at least be polite enough to greet Him! I’m not saying your beginning prayer has to be a long, drawn out intercession for the world in crisis. I’m just saying that you don’t take God’s presence for granted. Greet Him as if he were sitting beside or across from you, because He wants to have real fellowship with you, not just watch you go through the motions.
  • Be honest with God. Struggling today? He already knows it! He’s waiting for you to confess it and ask for His help. You know what? My husband usually knows when I’m struggling, too, but there’s something magical that happens when I turn to him and say, “Babe, I can’t do it today. Will you help me?” Phil might see me struggling, but until I ask for help, any help he gives me will probably be rebuffed because it’s getting in the way of trying to do it myself! Humble yourself and God will honor it by giving His grace.
  • Some suggest that you have a piece of paper and pen to jot notes about your brain misfires – making quick notes frees your mind to return to the Lord. This doesn’t usually work so well for me. I find that the act of writing the note takes my mind out of the spirit world and into the daily world of “to-do’s” and my quiet time with God disintegrates after that. I am usually more successful at sharing the distraction with God and asking Him to bring it to mind after we’re done. I am learning to trust that God will bring to mind those things I need to remember. But sometimes I do stop to make notes. And sometimes that’s OK.
  • Which brings me to my last point – don’t be too legalistic about your time with God. I am “unlegalistically legalistic” about my time with God. If I’m not legalistic about it, it too easily falls from my schedule. But if I’m too legalistic about it, I get into a rut of “doing” rather than “being.” So sometimes I have to mix it up a bit – change my pattern.

Dealing with our misfires is part science and part art. It’s part spiritual and part nature. So science, art, spirit and nature all shaken together mean that there is no “set” way that you should enter God’s presence. Hopefully, this list helps you find a place in the spirit that pulls you away from the world and into God’s presence.

We often have the misconception that after we come to know the Lord, that things of the spirit should come naturally. Not so, my friend. We must learn and practice spiritual disciplines that draw us deeper into God. It’s not natural for me to sit quietly and wait for God’s presence. I’m the first-born, with a Type A personality. God is rubbing, shaving and chiseling the rough edges off that natural personality, but He does so in such a way that I don’t lose “me.” Who I am in Christ, who He has designed me to be, is “me” way better than I can ever be on my own. But it is still “me,” so the way I meet with God will differ some from the way you meet with God. That means we must each learn on our own (with God’s help, of course), how best to enter His presence.

One final and important thought: Look upon your quest for entering God’s presence as a wonderful adventure. He wants to meet with you. It might take a little effort on your part – no, it will definitely take effort on your part – to have a growing relationship with Him, but what an adventure! The treasure at the end is beyond our expectations and anticipations – but the journey is also the journey of a lifetime! Enjoy it!

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