Intimate times with God are strategic to every believer’s faith journey. However, those times don’t just happen. We have to intentionally carve time out of our busy schedules. This summer, don’t let your spiritual life take a vacation. I want to invite you to join me in taking more time to have meaningful conversations with God through prayer, pondering the deeper meaning of Scripture as it applies to your life through meditation, and telling God how much you love and adore him!
Here are three invitations to help us make these moments more meaningful.
1. Walk and talk
“Just a closer walk with Thee. Grant it, Jesus, is my plea. Daily walking close to Thee. Let it be, dear Lord. Let it be.” This hymn from my childhood was always one of my favorites.
Every time we sang it, I could picture Jesus taking my hand and walking with me in a garden or on the beach. We were talking and laughing, and the conversation was two-way, which is exactly the way prayer is supposed to be! I speak. God listens. God speaks. I listen.
I have never forgotten that image, and I am often drawn to take Jesus’ hand and go for a walk. Somehow the physical act of getting outside, away from the normal hub-bub of life, helps me clear my mind and focus on his presence. My favorite place to walk is the beach. Yours might be a favorite park or hiking trail. A walk around the block will work as well. The important thing is to step out of the normal confines of your house or office and get outside where the sun can warm your face, and the beauty of nature can remind you of how big our God is. It’s amazing how small our problems appear when we realize we are talking to the Creator of the entire universe.
I am one of those people who likes to speak my prayers out loud and, in our world of iPhones and headsets, no one gives me a second look when they see me talking to my invisible Friend.
But our silent prayers reach God’s ears just as well. The important thing is to share your thoughts, concerns, and joys with your heavenly Father as you would your earthly father or a best friend. Then, when the words run out, don’t forget to listen.
Meditation is one of those words that can be off-putting at first because it has come to mean so many different things to different cultures and people. But to a child of God, meditating is focused on the Scriptures, prayerfully reflecting on what you have read and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate your understanding, just as Jesus did with his disciples. We should then find ways to apply those deeper truths to our own life.
One suggestion I have found helpful when I’m meditating on God’s Word is to read a sentence out loud, putting the accent on a different word each time. For instance, Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” When I emphasize the words “not ashamed,” the sentence is a powerful statement of my intent to stand for Christ. But if I read it emphasizing the word “it,” the sentence becomes a declaration of the power of the Gospel to save men’s souls. And by emphasizing “everyone,” I discover another powerful truth — the Gospel is for everyone who simply believes.
Try this the next time you are reading the Bible, and see how new revelations and insights will pop off the page.
3. Say, “I love you”
I am not sure that we stop to think how desperately God yearns to hear those words from his children — not because he has answered a prayer or rained down some wonderful blessing, but just because he is.
As a mother, I know the joy I felt when one of my daughters snuggled up by me on the couch, gave me a spontaneous hug, or drew me a picture with “I love you, mommy” scrawled across the bottom in crayon. Those pictures went right up on the refrigerator and never failed to warm my heart and make me smile.
So, no matter how busy your summer may be, don’t forget to raise your arms toward heaven in praise and give God a hug!
Marilee Pierce Dunker travels the world as an ambassador for World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like he did, she shares stories, pictures, and personal reflections, bearing witness to the extraordinary ways God is using his people to share the gospel and care for the poor.
Visit World Vision’s Speakers Bureau site to request Marilee or another World Vision speaker to present at your upcoming event.