Already in the times of the bible as well as today God is looking for the contact to us humans. God’s Word is full of stories of people encountering God. But how does this "seeking, knocking, asking", of which the Bible speaks, work?? Five ideas for becoming open to God.
Many Christians use phrases like: "Then God said to me…", "…the other day God gave me the impression that…", "…after I had asked God…". Have you ever heard such phrases as well? And afterwards, a big question mark has settled in your mind as to how you can ask God a question, experience him in the midst of everyday life, or get a concrete answer from him? Admittedly: This does sound strange. How should I imagine it? A legendary note that sails from heaven? The ominous voice from nowhere? The awakening dream?
I am actually convinced that God could choose any of these ways to contact us. Likewise, I believe that these are very rare exceptions after all. But nevertheless, I – and many other people as well – speak from experience when I say that God still communicates with people today and can really be experienced in the midst of everyday life! Just how? Of course, a lot of the experiences that people call "encounters with God" could also be dismissed as coincidence, imagination or wishful thinking. But if we are fundamentally open to the assumption that there is a God who created this world and every single human being, why should it be impossible for him to speak to us today??
The versatility of God’s speaking
A look at the Bible helps us to sense the versatility of God’s speaking: There Moses encounters a burning thorn bush accompanied by an audible voice. There is an Elijah, who can not find God in the fire and not in the storm, but in a gentle whispering. There is a Paul who finds guidance through a dream. People experience miracles, have conversations, read texts. The palette is as individual as it is rich – a scheme can hardly be discerned.
"Ask and you shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7,7
But there is one thing that unites all "hearers": they admit that God may speak to them, may encounter them. You bring a certain openness with you. You don’t want to miss the chance to come into direct contact with God. Hand on heart: What does it look like for me? Do I want to know what God has to say to me? Am I ready to be interrupted by him? To quote the Bible again, we read, for example, in Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you."
Encountering God: How does it work practically?
But how can I seek, knock, ask? How do I become open to an encounter with God?? The answer is above all in our heart. When something is important to me, it usually finds a place in my heart. So is it important to me that God gets a chance to speak to me? Do I long to experience an encounter with God?? The book of Proverbs says that God looks at our heart. So if there are places that harbor these desires, then God sees the. And then he already has a good opportunity to follow up on it. But I can signal even more readiness. In a story that happens to the prophet Malachi (to be read in the book of the same name in the Bible), God says: "Put me to the test ..!" (Mal. 3:10) Even though the situation in this story is different, something about God’s nature becomes clear: we may test him. Wrestling with him. Ask questions. He can handle it. And even more: He is happy about it.
Two important things should be added to this: These are, of course, only thought-provoking impulses that are meant to inspire you. How you modify them, make them fit for you, is entirely up to you. It is not a matter of magic methods! Magic methods is also the keyword for a second addition: when, how, whether and through what God speaks to us, we cannot "make" or force – no matter which way we choose to go. God still remains God and sovereign in his actions. We can open the door to him, formulate our wishes and thoughts in concrete terms, and wait for his words and actions with the greatest possible trust and hope. And with that, our part is done!
Five ideas for becoming open to God
1. To let a Christian tell me about his experiences. This may sound rather unadventurous at first. But the best stories are written by life. And hearing how other people manage their daily lives with God and discover his little messages of love can be incredibly enriching. It also provides an opportunity to ask questions: "You are talking to God? How do you do it?" "God has made something clear to you? How do you know it was God and not your own thoughts??"Listening to the different ways in which God speaks sharpens our own hearing and our own perspective, so that we do not miss God’s voice and his actions!
Worship (Photo: Jesus.de)
2. Attending different church services. The people who live their lives with God are as diverse as God’s encounters with us. Since a church service is really nothing more than a meeting of people who also walk a part of their journey with God together, these meetings reflect this versatility. In your area there are certainly different Christian churches and congregations that celebrate their services at different times, with different content and in different ways. Visiting you once in a certain time window (for example, one month, always a different one) gives God the opportunity to use other channels for an encounter than are otherwise available to Him.
3. Looking back with gratitude. In the course of a day, an infinite number of things happen to us. Beautiful, challenging, funny, enriching, confusing. We quickly forget much of it, even though it may have been of greater importance than we realize. That’s why it’s a valuable habit to pause at the end of the day and review what you’ve experienced. Were there situations in which I was saved from harm? Has something changed for the better, although I had expected a bad outcome?? Have problems been solved or questions clarified today?? Where could I overcome challenges? When we put the day back in God’s hands like this, we will realize that God was much more present than we might have realized in the situation at hand!
Prayer (Pixabay – public domain)
4. Praying a promise. The bible is full of promises that God makes to people. Some are for a special person in a special moment, others are still valid for us today. Distinguishing one from the other is relatively easy: read the whole context or passage in the Bible. Is it a story in which God promises something to this one person (or a group of people)?? Or is it about a text that is addressed to people in general?? Especially in the Psalms and Proverbs there are many promises that are still valid for us today. And if God has promised something, then he will also keep it. You can refer to this. Talk to him in a simple prayer about one of his promises and ask him to show you how this can become reality in your life. Keep at it and don’t let up, even if it takes some time and some prayers! But beware: A lot of promises are connected with a condition in the same breath. So we have to do our part as well. Are you ready to do this?
5. Write a conversation with God. Perhaps the following exercise can also help you to make contact with God. There is an issue or question on your heart and you wonder what a loving God would answer you? Then grab a piece of paper and pen and write down what is on your mind. Phrase it as if you were addressing God directly, "God, I have an important question for you today, namely …" Now take a pen in a different color and write down what God might say in response to your question or request. If new thoughts/questions/concerns from your perspective come to you about what you are writing "in God’s name," grab the pen in your color again and write those things down, too. In this way, a conversation with God emerges that may have been penned by you, but which definitely has the potential to make God’s speaking clear to you. I myself have experienced that in this way questions or problems that have moved me for a long time have suddenly opened up aspects and perspectives that I had never noticed before!
By Elena Schulte
This article first appeared in JOYCE Special God Moments magazine. In this journal, women share their personal experiences with God. The booklet is ideal for passing on and giving away and is available at reasonable bulk prices.