By Janel Breitenstein, USA
So recently, I had one of my favorite kinds of nights: date night. I won’t gush too much. But suffice to say, I don’t take for granted being married to my best friend. I love tucking myself under his arm at a movie, wandering around a bookstore and laughing at off-the-wall titles, and sharing real conversation that changes us right over the top of plates from our favorite salad bar. Mostly we just get to enjoy each other. To revel in being an “us.” This is the beauty of date nights—there’s a luxury to simply being with the people we love.
Not unlike the burst of intimacy from a date night, there’s something to be said for being in God’s presence . . . for setting aside our flurry of effort and productivity to simply revel in our God. It should be the first and only thing, right? To love Him with everything we are.
But often, as an achiever (not to mention a “spiritual blogger”), I tend to want to feel productive even in my time with God—to view it as another thing to accomplish instead of sweet time with someone I love. Remember what all those ancient catechisms said was the chief reason for existence? The this-is-the-main-thing-thing? They said the reason we exist is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
I have to admit that the “enjoy” snippet requires mindfulness on my part, especially between packing lunches and work deadlines and “Mom, have you seen my Sharpies?” inquiries. Somewhere in all of the craze of life, I need to find a way to seek God’s presence—to let being with Him be the exciting, refreshing, rejuvenating time I look forward to. Where I can say something like, “Let me just hang out and get happy here, looking and experiencing and reveling in the presence of God.”
For me, that means intentionally seeing ways to see God and worship Him daily in the midst of my busy life. I hope these five low-prep tips can help you to do the same.
1. Praise God for the people He made
Ephesians 2:10 states we’re each God’s workmanship. And as we spend time together, we see qualities in each other that remind us of Him: Oh, there you are! Even amidst profound sin and brokenness, that original image is still there for us to excavate and savor. For example, as a wife, I see my husband’s advocacy for me; his passion for truth and his gentleness. In my son’s fascination with nature, I see God’s passion for beauty and design. In my daughter’s love for dance and her sheer delight with life, I see his love for art in all forms, His ecstasy in this life He created for us.
2. Lose yourself in His personal expressions—nature
Recently on a much-needed day off, I did what I should have done a long time ago: Took a hike in a national forest. Some striking horizontal, stair-stepped tree roots snapped me to attention. As I studied the roots, my senses buzzed and I came to a bigger realization. All of this nature—it was sort of like God, as the creator, leading me through His own art gallery, sculptured and painted by a meticulous yet generous hand. Romans reminds me that in nature, God showcases His eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20).
That day, I was awe-stricken. At one point, I found myself in tears from His sheer beauty and care.If you get out in creation, you can witness God’s self-expression in nature, and let it move you to worship.
3. Use music to speak the language of the soul
Unique to humans is this mind-blowing, heightened art form called music. When we want to say something most profoundly, we often communicate it in art—and particularly, song. Whether it’s listening on iTunes, belting it out in the shower a capella, or playing an instrument—try immersing yourself in music.
In my time alone with God, it’s not uncommon to find me singing while I play the piano. Sometimes I use the words to pray for friends, or to express what I can’t put into words myself. And far more important than the quality of my music is the quality of the song of my heart (check out 1 Samuel 16:7).
Not everyone creates or enjoys music in the same way. But for you, perhaps it’s listening or singing along, or penning your own lyrics. How could music bring a new language to your worship?
4. Keep your eyes turned up
It’s really easy to focus on the things that are going sour in life. It can be a challenge to see things to be thankful for in the midst of pain. But gratitude is one of the most constant ways to keep our eyes turned upward all day—helping us in that fight to see God’s goodness.
Personally, gratefulness allows me to see the gifts God’s piling around me, rather than all the things that aren’t going my way. Somehow gratitude tips my chin up—away from my own belly button, and instead, in the sweeping context of a mysterious, infinitely greater God. It reminds me of God’s steadfast kindness to me in the past, too. Gratitude creates worship in me. Rather than placing myself and my desires as “god” in the center of the universe, gratitude points me to an infinitely bigger Giver, which leads me directly into worshiping Him.
5. Learn how you worship best
Consider the way you personally best adore God. Authors like Gary Thomas explore our “sacred pathways”: the ways our hearts specifically connect with God. Perhaps it’s through nature, activism, the five senses, tradition, self-denial of certain indulgences, serving, contemplation, or intellect. But beyond categories, I like to think even more specifically and creatively about the ways my faith comes alive. What can I do that helps me feel connected to God?
For me, that’s often serving the poor, writing, authentic conversation, gardening, creativity, crossing cultures…and the list grows as I experience more of how God has made me.
So I’ve discovered that because worship isn’t always natural, there are ways I can choose to train myself toward God, fastening myself to him like a vine on a trellis—so my soul continues to point and grow upward.
But it’s more than a discipline. Cultivating worship cultivates my joy. And finally, I can do what I was created to do.
This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.