Last week was an angry week; the type of week where very little seemed to go the right way, no matter how hard I was trying. It was particularly frustrating because my usual methods for listening to God weren’t working, at least, I couldn’t hear anything. The tried-and-true methods I had been using for the past ten years were failing me, adding a sense of desperation to the whole thing. It also stymied this blog, which I had had tried to write for days.
After taking a step back (and getting through Friday), I came to realize why I didn’t think I could hear anything, why a lot of us feel as though we pray and get no response. There is no set method for listening to God. The process is ever-changing, ever-evolving, because if we turn our relationship with God into a routine, then we take it for granted, and it falters. I’ve always believed that God wants you to continually examine your relationship with Him, and beyond that, openly question what doesn’t make sense. So here, finally, are the steps I use (for now) that define my relationship with God.
I know it’s a word that makes one’s bile rise (I know it does for me), but hear me out. Years ago, when I was still homeless, I sat in a rescue mission in Saginaw, Michigan while one preacher’s words hit me a little harder than anyone else’s. I used to use mandatory church as a way to secure my bed for the night and catch a few extra Z’s, but this guy had something to say. His words were; “You’ve tried everything else; why not try this?” He spoke with the fire and conviction of a man who had arrived at this knowledge through experience. About a year later, I learned what he was talking about. Having someone fire a bullet at you tends to change your perspective…surrender doesn’t seem so bad compared to dying alone in the street. But the fact is, God doesn’t ask you to surrender to Him so He can conquer you; that’s not what He’s about. Only by surrendering can He truly work through you, and I speak from experience when I say that He has a far better plan for you than anything you can conceive. I’ve laundry-listed personal examples of transitioning from homelessness to normalcy; I’m writing this under a sunrise from my kitchen table while listening to one of my two iPods. It’s something you have to experience for yourself. All you have to do is give yourself over, genuinely, and let Him do his thing.
2). Talk to Him
Traditional prayer can grow so stale, so fast. I confess that I don’t say my prayers every night, yet I avoid doing it only when I need something (bad idea. I’ll get to that in a minute). I say the traditional our-father-who-art-in-Heaven prayer maybe five nights a week. But I talk to God all the time. I talk to God as though I’m talking to my best friend, which is how I found out He has a sense of humor. I’ll often have a goal at work that I won’t meet; I’ll exceed it in a way I hadn’t planned (instead of selling four internets, I’ll sell ten phone bundles, which comes out to more money), and I’ll end up looking at the sky and saying; “Thanks. Good one.”
I don’t think God has too many uses for tradition, especially if they lose their meaning. I’m not saying don’t pray; I’m saying talk. People who say it’s a one-sided conversation haven’t truly surrendered, because He will answer, and usually, surprisingly, He’ll answer pretty quickly. I’ll often get the answer to a question before I even get it out. Hint; you know it’s God when you feel as though you’re being pushed to do something you don’t want to do, but you KNOW to be right. I can’t stress it enough; times like that, DON’T ASK QUESTIONS, JUST DO IT. The amazing thing is that He always takes care of you when you listen! ALWAYS, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME! It may never be what you wanted, in fact, it rarely is, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll find it’s what you needed.
To wrap this up (I want to keep it at under a thousand words), there’s a lot more that goes into it. I’ve found that God is a simple idea that doesn’t press on your mind, but it’s always present. The devil is a tug on your soul, making you feel as though his idea is a good one and then ‘rewarding’ you with false feelings of comfort and even euphoria when you do what he wanted. I’ve always felt bad later, though.
I don’t only pray when times are bad because I’ve found that if you only come to Him during times of need, and not during better times, He may put you on the back burner. He places problems in our life so we may come to Him, and have Him show us how to overcome them. We then give thanks for Him giving us the time of day and the strength He’s given us. If you ever feel as though you have no problems, better take a second look at your life.
This is just how I let God work through me; He works through all of us differently. If you feel as though you’ve prayed and gotten no response, then change your approach. You may not be ready yet. But He’s there, He’s always there, and He never lets his own down.
Thanks for reading. God bless and be safe.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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