Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another. My name is Kari Bartkus and I work as a spiritual director to women who are going through difficult seasons like grief, depression, fear, or anxiety. And I do so through a modern-day, letter writing style of spiritual direction, so we use email to write back and forth, sharing our questions, insights, and reflections with one another.
One of the tools I use as I serve these women is… well, I don’t have a fancy name for it, but it consists of 4 R’s to hearing from God. This is something that I’ve created as a sort of framework that helps me remember different things I want to check within my own heart and spirit as I’m meeting with the Lord, and they are also things I can talk about with women who are bringing their questions to Him about what to do or how to move forward in a certain area of their lives.
If you are either in a season of hurt yourself, or if you are caring for someone else who is hurting, you are likely seeking God in a particular matter, too. Do you move forward with the treatment or not? Do you keep serving in this volunteer role or do you step down to focus on your family? Do you bring anyone else onto your support team besides your counselor? Why can’t you move forward from past trauma you’ve experienced?
These are all valid questions and they are all things that we need to bring before the Lord and seek His guidance on.
So over the next four episodes, I want to share each of those four heart postures so that, when you are seeking God, you can be mindful of things that might be getting in the way, and you can also take perhaps a more proactive and intentional approach to hearing from God.
The four heart postures are: Ready, Recognize, Receive, and Respond. Okay? Ready, Recognize, Receive, and Respond.
Today, we are going to talk about the first heart posture: being ready.
Why Do We Need to Get Ready?
The first heart posture is being ready to meet with God.
Why would we need to get ready to meet with God? Can’t we talk to Him anytime? Anywhere?
I love that God is always available for a chat, and that He invites us to talk to Him all the time. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) says, “Never stop praying.” I know I am often like Brother Lawrence, talking to God and worshipping Him even as I am doing the most mundane of chores, like washing dishes or doing laundry. In fact, Brother Lawrence wrote, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.”
But I’ve found that when I am seeking God about a specific issue, when I am bringing a question before Him that I’d like some guidance on, it helps me to put myself in a place where I can better hear from Him.
Think about having an important conversation with a friend on your front porch, but there’s a neighbor playing loud music from his garage and the kids are darting in and out with their sidewalk chalk or nerf guns, and it’s just really hard to focus and even to hear one another talk. If it’s an important conversation, you are going to want to find a way to get rid of potential distractions and have the time and space you need to talk to your friend.
Think also about Moses, who went into his tent to meet with God, to hear from Him, and then who returned to the community. Or Jesus who went out to a quiet place, at times, to pray, especially when there was a big decision He had to make or something He was about to experience.
In the same way, we want to get ready to meet with God, and we do this by preparing both our physical space and our inner space, our hearts.
Now, I will say that this is something that my clients often say is one of the hardest parts. It’s not that they don’t want to hear from God; they do! But getting ready to hear from Him, creating that time and space to listen for Him, can be hard.
Getting Our Physical Space Ready
So let’s start with, perhaps, the easier part: getting our physical space ready. Here are some questions you can consider as you think about preparing a physical space to meet with God:
- Where do you tend to sense God’s presence most? While you might think of a room in your home, don’t limit yourself to your house. This might be outside, at church, or in some other space. Where do you sense God’s presence most?
- What is it about that space that helps you be aware of His presence? Try to identify it, if you can. Is it something about the physical set up or natural surroundings? Is it something about the atmosphere of the room?
- Are there any physical distractions you need to make sure you get rid of before you sit down to meet with God? This might include turning off your phone, or finding a place where other people aren’t walking around. It might also mean making sure you have water to drink, or that you go to the bathroom first. Know what tends to distract you and try to be proactive in shielding yourself from those things.
- Are there any prayer tools you might want to use to help remind you that God is with you? Now, by prayer tools I mean something like lighting a candle or holding a comfort cross or fingering prayer beads or things like that. These items serve as reminders to us that God is near, that He wants us to come to Him, and that He wants to share with us, too.
Now, of course, you want to make sure that this physical space is something you can access fairly easily. For while there are times you might want to make a special retreat and go to a location farther away or stay overnight or something, the majority of the time, you’ll want somewhere you can get to during part of your everyday life.
Some women like to sit on their front porch, others have a special chair they use for their quiet times with the Lord, and still others prefer to be in a place like a coffeeshop, where others are around them but they aren’t necessarily engaged in conversation. Some might want to sit in their car near a park or a beach, while others want to take a walk on a nature trail. What do you think this place might be for you?
Sometimes, too, this will change. So don’t be afraid to try out a few different places or to change it up when you feel the need to.
Getting Our Inner Space Ready
But getting ready to meet with God is more than just preparing a physical space. It’s also about preparing our hearts. And this part can get a little trickier. Because there are a lot of things that can get in the way.
So let me introduce this part just by asking you a couple of questions:
- Is there anything on your mind or heart that is distracting you? Often we come to God with a specific question or issue, and we are so eager to hear from Him about that one thing, but when we sit down, our thoughts start to turn toward the chores we need to get done, or we worry about staying too long and not picking up our children on time, or all sorts of things. Have you ever been there?
While there are several things you can do to try to prevent these random thoughts, I’ve found it best just to either write it all down so I’ve captured it on paper or I just ask God to remind me about it later if it’s important for me to remember. And God has been faithful to do that. If it’s a timing issue, consider setting a timer on your phone so you don’t stay longer than you can. Perhaps you are meeting with God on a lunch break or need to be somewhere else. And that’s okay. Life has responsibilities and we can’t just abdicate those to sit with God all the time.
- Are you expecting God to speak to you? Because sometimes we say we believe that God speaks to us, but when we sit down, we aren’t really expecting Him to say anything. Or maybe we truly don’t believe that God speaks to His people anymore. Maybe we believe that was just something that happened in the Bible but not for believers today. So ask yourself, are you expecting God to speak to you during this time? If not, explore that a little bit and see if you can figure out what’s going on there.
I’m not going to lie, there are times I go to church when I’m not actually expecting to hear anything from God. I’m going to serve, to encourage, to be present… and though God can speak to me anyway, it’s so much easier to hear Him, to sense His presence, when I’m listening for Him. Are you listening to Him?
- Are you ready to hear what God has to say? Like, are you actually prepared to hear what He has to say to you, whether it’s what you’re expecting or not? Or if it’s something that you really don’t want to hear right now? Do you have an open heart to hear from the Lord? Because you, my friend, don’t get to dictate what God shares with you.
Sometimes He has a message for us that is what we need to hear, that we’re looking for, but sometimes He has a message that addresses a sin issue or an invitation to sacrifice or something like that. We’re looking for a word of encouragement and God’s calling us to deeper faith. Maybe you came asking God to help you forgive so-and-so, and then He invites you to confess your own sin to that person and be the one to ask for forgiveness. Have you ever been there? So are you open to hearing whatever it is He has to say?
Focus On the Heart More Than the Physical
So the first heart posture to hear from God is getting ready—both our physical space and our inner space. But I do want to note that if our hearts are ready to hear from God, we can hear from Him wherever we are. We can hear from Him as we are going throughout our days, we can sense those sacred nudges from Him to reach out to someone or to take a break or get outside. So I really do want you to focus more on your heart than on your physical surroundings, okay? For while the physical surroundings can help us, it’s more about our heart posture.
Recently, God turned the track where I was walking into a sacred place to meet with Him. That was our meeting place. It didn’t matter that other people were around or anything like that. My heart was ready and yearning to hear from Him, and I am so grateful God used that place to meet with me.
Now, there’s a similar episode I did about getting ready to meet with God back on bonus episode 7, which aired on September 30 of 2021. Some of the things are the same, but there are some other things mentioned, so if you want to dive into this a bit more, I encourage you to go back and listen to that. And there’s obviously more we could talk about for this heart posture of being ready, but hopefully today at least helps you start to explore the idea of preparing both a physical space and your heart to meet with God.
Be sure to join me again next week as we look at the second heart posture to hear from God: recognize.
Okay, that is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
QUOTES, RESOURCES, + BIBLE VERSES:
- “Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT)
- “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.” (Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God)
- Bonus Episode 7: Getting Ready to Meet With God
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