Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
A bonus episode, at that. I love to take these bonus episodes and really focus on something that will help you connect with God. In past episodes, we have done some guided Scripture readings together. One has been a meditation.
But for today, I wanted to talk about the idea of getting ready to meet with God.
Now, the caveat is that you can talk to God anytime, anywhere, right? In fact, we’re instructed to pray at all times, aren’t we? Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Never stop praying.”
And that is such a blessing, such a gift, that we can talk to God at any moment. We don’t have to be anywhere special, we don’t have to wait for a certain time. We can just talk.
But what I want to focus on today is that sometimes we need to not just talk to God, but prepare ourselves to actually encounter Him, to stop and listen for His response.
We need time to get ready to meet with Him.
Maybe you have an important question you are bringing before Him, a decision you need to make, and you’re looking for discernment in which way to go.
Maybe you’re reading the Bible and want to not just learn the information, but actually encounter God through His Word and hear what He has to say to you.
Maybe you just want to know what God is up to in your life and how you can join Him in that.
Today, I want to explore a few different ways that this idea of getting ready shows up in the Christian life and then see what it might look like for you personally.
Getting Ready Questions
So where I have seen this idea show up the most was actually when I was a Children’s Ministries Director and we used a curriculum called Godly Play—which, is a good curriculum, you guys, but every curriculum has its positives and negatives, so you really need to know your kids and your church and find something that’s going to be biblical and solid theologically. But this is where the idea of getting ready really hit home with me.
As kids would enter the classroom, I would be sitting right outside the door and I would take a few moments to chat with them to see how they were doing. And then I would ask them a series of questions—and honestly, I modified them a bit from what the Godly Play curriculum encouraged us to use, so this is not what you would see in their book, but this is what I usually asked:
Are you ready to listen to today’s story?
Are you ready to be kind to your friends?
Are you ready to hear what God might have to say to you today?
And you guys, that last question was my favorite because it sparked in them this idea that God really could speak to them. Whether it was through the story itself or their interactions with one of the volunteers or another child… God was there in the room with us and He had something to share with us.
I mean, can’t you even now just feel the excitement that that question brings?
I remember doing a Godly Play story for the entire church one Sunday, and so the kids and I were all sitting up front, and we just went through the questions together as a church. I wanted the adults to know that God was there and had something to share with us. I wanted to make sure they were ready to hear it. That they were anticipating it.
You see, that’s part of what getting ready is all about: anticipating what’s to come. I want to be ready to hear what God might have to say to me. I don’t want to miss it. I want to be paying attention and looking for Him. Because I know He’s there.
Isaiah 28:23 (NLT) says, “Listen to me; listen and pay close attention.”
Are you paying attention? Or are you distracted by all the things going on around you? How can you keep one ear attuned to God while you go about your business? How can you get ready to hear from Him?
Seasons of Preparation
Another place I saw this idea of getting ready was in the seasons of Advent and Lent. Again, in Godly Play language, Advent was the season of getting ready for the Mystery of Christmas, and Lent was the season of getting ready for the Mystery of Easter.
Think about it: how do you get ready for Christmas? You decorate the house, buy gifts, schedule parties, plan meals. You start playing Christmas music and practice for the special services at church.
How many of you, you’ve already started to buy presents for the holidays? I’m not going to lie, I’ve bought one or two already, because I’m excited to give these gifts to my family, and they were on sale, and so I went ahead and grabbed them. I’m starting to get ready for Christmas.
Advent is a special season in the church that leads up to Christmas. It helps us get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It walks us through different parts of the story: the holy family, and the shepherds, and the wise men. It builds anticipation for the coming of the baby Jesus.
In the same way, Lent is the season of getting ready for Easter. We pause to remember and reflect on the journey of Jesus as He approached His final weeks here on the earth before being crucified. While Advent carries with it a more celebratory feel, Lent is more serious, more reflective. But both are seasons of getting ready.
So I’ve talked about how we got ready to enter the classroom by asking questions like, “Are you ready to hear today’s story?” and “Are you ready to meet with God?” And there are seasons of getting ready, like Advent and Lent, where we prepare for these larger celebrations.
But we also see a form of getting ready each week in church, as many congregations also have a call to worship at the beginning of their services: a reading or a song designed to shift our attention from everyday worries and cares and turn our hearts and minds to God and worshiping Him. And really, this is not something that the church itself created. No, God Himself has called us to worship Him. And when we do, we are responding to that calling.
A call to worship in a church service often helps set the tone of the service and helps us set our hearts toward God. It is usually based on Scripture, words from God Himself, like Psalm 105 verses 1 and 2 (NLT): “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.”
I love how Jarryd Foreman describes it:
“When we deliver a call to worship in our services we are simply reminding people of who God is and helping them to see Jesus as worthy of all praise. Our congregations don’t simply need a fast opening song, a cool video, or an emotional exhortation to help them to worship. They need the inspired Word of God prompting their hearts to properly respond to the Savior who has already called them by grace to worship His name!”
And so a call to worship in a church service is another way that we get ready to meet with God.
Preparing for God’s Arrival
We can also look at the story in Exodus 19 where God tells Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you” (verse 9, NLT). And then God says, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch” (verses 10-11, NLT).
Did you see that? God said, “Be sure they are ready.”
Again, we know today that we can approach God any time and talk to Him, right? Hebrews 4:16, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” And yet, there is still this element of making sure we are ready.
For the Israelites, they had to get ready because God is a holy God, and they had to take time to consecrate themselves so they could be in His presence.
As believers, we are already consecrated, made clean by the blood of Jesus, and so, what does getting ready look like for us?
Getting Ready to Meet with God
I’m going to give you some ideas to think about, but really, I want you to bring this question before God and ask Him what can help you get ready to meet with Him. Because sometimes, it’s a very personal thing we need to do.
If I may, I want to compare it to getting ready for a coffee date with my husband. We’re going to make sure the kids are taken care of, that someone is caring for them so we can have some time to ourselves. We’re going to decide where we’re going to go and how long we might be able to stay there before we have to go back home. We want to make sure we find a quiet enough place that we can talk together and be able to hear one another, without being interrupted or distracted. Before we go, we’re going to have some idea of what we might want to talk about—stuff that’s weighing on our hearts or even just things coming up on the schedule that we need to work out together.
It’s very similar when we want to meet with God. If getting ready means that we are anticipating our time with God, that we are eager not just to talk to Him but listen for what He has to say back… then what might we need to do to get ready?
Often times, we need to find a quiet place. This is what it’s often referred to as a “quiet time.” It’s hard to hear God sometimes when there is noise all around us—and really, noise inside of us, too. We need to find a quiet space, but also quiet the noise within us.
While I do read my Bible when my kids are around, I can focus and hear God much better when I read it alone once I have the house to myself. I love my family. But sometimes, there’s just too much going on around me to attune myself to God’s presence.
Once we have that quiet space, we can do a few things to continue getting ready.
- We can light a candle or turn on a wax warmer or something like that to signify that God is with us.
- We can take some deep breaths to let go of anything that might be bothering us and also to calm our bodies down.
- We can say a prayer to help us focus and set our intention for our time with Him. One prayer I often use when sitting down to read the Bible is, “God, revive my soul through the reading of Your Word.” I get that from Psalm 19:7 (NLT), where it says, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.”
- We can journal, either writing down some of our own thoughts and prayers, or just getting the noise out of our heads so we can focus on hearing from God.
- We can have a notebook ready, so when God shares something with us, we can write it down. Because when God says something to me, when He gives me an image to hold onto, I want to remember it, don’t you?
- We can also play a song that helps us worship God and praise Him.
What else might you do to get ready? It doesn’t have to take long. Really, it might just be a few seconds. But it’s something intentional we do to turn our attention to God and prepare ourselves to hear from Him. To encounter Him.
And I do want to point out that this is something you can do before you sit down and have your time with Him, but it’s also something you can do in the morning as you get up, something to remind you that God is with you throughout the day and you want to pay attention to see where He might be working.
If I remember right, Dallas Willard would pray through either the Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23. For example, he would say, “You start out, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven.’ Now just stay there awhile. Let that soak in. See yourself addressing your Heavenly Father; think about what he’s like. It isn’t, ‘My Boss, who art in heaven’ or ‘My Eternal Scrutinizer…’ No. It’s, ‘My Father.’”
And I wonder if there is something you might do as you get ready in the morning to get ready to hear from God that day.
I’d love to hear what your “getting ready” looks like. How do you prepare to encounter God? What does that look like for you? What routines and rhythms do you have in place—at home, at church? You can email me at email@example.com. My name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Okay, that’s all for today. Until next time…
ARE YOU READY TO C.A.R.E. COURAGEOUSLY?
Grab the Courageous Care Masterclass at www.lovedoesthat.org/care.
- “Pray in the Spirit at all times.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)
- “Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 NLT)
- “Listen to me; listen and pay close attention.” (Isaiah 28:23 NLT)
- “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 105:1-2 NLT)
- “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you…. Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch.” (Exodus 19: 9-11 NLT)
- “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)
Friend, I’d love to encourage you as you encourage others. Here are two ways to get started:
1. SHOP ENCOURAGEMENT + SYMPATHY GIFTS
These are prayerfully-crafted gifts you can share with those you love as tangible expressions of care. Let your friend know she is not alone.
2. GET STARTED WITH SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
Interested in spiritual direction? Fill out this interest form where we can start to talk about what’s weighing on your heart and identify next steps you can take to discern God’s direction.