Worship in Spirit and Truth

Five ways to cultivate a deeper connection with your Creator

March 12, 2010 by Major David Ivany


Open the eyes of my heart,
Lord, open the eyes of my heart,
I want to see you.

The poet Kabir states: “The fish in the water that is thirsty needs professional counselling.” Though we search everywhere for God, the good news is that he has already revealed himself to us—in Jesus, through his written Word, in nature and by his Spirit. The fact that God is ever-present often causes us to overlook him.

It is incumbent upon us to respond to these revelations if we are to live healthy, holy lives. Human beings are made to worship. They are made with a capacity to know God, and to enjoy him forever. For the Christian, worship is a vital connection.

Revelation and Response
In Scripture we read of responses to God’s activity—Noah builds an altar, Abraham bows down, Moses takes off his shoes, the Three Wise Men worship and give gifts.

In response to a wise and knowing Creator, the Apostle Paul instructs: “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out” (Romans 12:1-2 The Message).

Made for Worship
The Church is rediscovering that worship is not restricted to place or time. We do not disparage corporate worship on a Sunday in a building or in a small house group. Rather, in the tradition of Brother Lawrence—who experienced God as intimately while washing pots in the kitchen as he did in the sanctuary—we aspire to: “Rejoice always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The following practices can guide and change us in personal worship:

1. Breathe. Make a practice of taking long, deep breaths, especially when stressed or disconcerted. We can’t live without breathing. It’s a gift. We ourselves are “God-breathed.” Acknowledge God’s presence in your breath. Breathe out short, repetitive prayers that connect your deep desires with God’s Spirit.

2. Be thankful. List 10 things for which you are grateful. You can journal or list in your mind wherever you may be. Then make a list of another 10, and then another 10. Theologian David Steindl-Rast says, “Happiness does not make us thankful, but thankfulness brings us happiness.” Your list will reflect your uniqueness.

3. Talk to God. You can even do it out loud. We remember things we say out loud (good news for this Baby Boomer). It may feel silly, but let God into your daily decisions and activities. Stop and say, “God, help me,” “God, I give you this challenge,” or “God, let me see you in this person, this situation.”

4. Connect with nature and beauty. Go for a walk, buy some flowers or go to an art gallery. Sense the Creator, his creation and the creative abilities of others.

5. Listen to music. This may be an obvious one, but be creative—God is not restricted to specific genres. He is not bound by style.

In worshipping we position ourselves to better perceive God’s revelation. As we yearn for him, may he open the eyes of our hearts. May our spirit’s connection to him continue to transform us in spirit and truth.

Major David Ivany is a spiritual director and THQ pastoral services officer.

Comments

  1. Kevin Osborne says:

    Thanks for these thoughts on how to get closer to God. They are an inspiration to me and gave me some ideas I hadn’t thought of to have a closer connection with God.

    In the business of our lives, I would agree that we can at times to paraphrase your thoughts from the poet Kabir, feel like a fish out of water. How we all need that vital spiritual union with God as we deal with each day filled with its challenges and opportunities.

    It has been said that no one person is an island unto himself or herself. We first need God. We also need the encouragement and support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when life happens and seduces us away from God, who loves us unconditionally.

    When I attend retreats at L’Arche I see spiritual community in action. I am filled with such joy when I go to their chapel, and see community members with developmental challenges taking an active role in the service. Some sing songs. Others dance using their wheelchairs. David, that is quite a sight to see!

    I have had the privilege of enjoying supper and an evening in a number of their homes. I recall how deeply my spirit was touched as we joined hands together offering a blessing for the meal and our time together. Community member David loves playing a game using a nickel that he will hide under a cup like a magician. Everyone gives a spirited laugh. They feel accepted and loved for their God-given uniqueness.

    I felt especially accepted as a person with a physical challenge that restricts my mobility. I had nothing to prove with them. I felt loved for the unique creation of God that I am. My wheelchair was completely overlooked because they were too busy looking at me.

    It is when all is sunny and bright in our relationship with God that we need to be even closer with Him. That is when the Enemy will attack us for our complacency.

    Keep on writing these insightful articles!

    Kevin

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