If you ever spend anytime reading a Bible you know that God is always trying to reach us. In fact one of our greatest goals as humans is the ability to communicate clearly with God. We are often very good at talking to God (we’re good at talking period). It is the listening side of communication that we really need to work on and that is certainly true in our relationship with God.
In the book of 1 Kings 19:11-12 we read about this interaction between God and Elijah His prophet,
11 “Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”
God often speaks to us as He spoke to Elijah in a very small, quiet way. That communication isn’t received through our ears, it’s received in the heart. Since we know that God can communicate with our hearts we have to make our hearts ready. Here are a few ways to prepare the heart for God.
1) Dedicate time to Him.
Think about that for a moment. No relationships work without time. Why would we expect a relationship with God to be any different? Time brings stillness of heart and familiarity with God. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. That’s what Orthodox Christians call Hesychia. We get to hear God when we not only shut out other distractions, but shut down our own inner distractions and frenzy, when we become “still”.
2) Dedicate the first part of the day to Him.
Dedicating time is an important aspect of relationship and one of the best biblical models is to dedicate the first part of the day specifically to speaking with God our creator. Here is an example from the gospel according to St. Mark, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Think about that. The Son of God who knows God the Father better than anyone in the world, didn’t simply rest on that knowledge. He continued to pursue His relationship with God, even forcing Himself up before dawn to make sure that He had this important time.
But I have so many things to do in the morning?!
We never seem to forget to eat breakfast or check our email and favorite websites every morning. It’s all about our priorities. It’s also about our habits. Now is the time to create new, beneficial habits.
3) Expect to struggle.
One of the great guides in the life of prayer St. Macarius once said “Let him push himself to prayer even when he does not possess the prayer of the Spirit. And so God, seeing him striving so and pushing himself by determination, even if the heart is unwilling, gives him the authentic prayer of the Spirit”
That is a great consolation to me and I hope that it is for you. God doesn’t expect us to automatically be “perfect” and “prayerful”. He loves us anyway and He will honor our struggle to communicate with Him.
There are many other things that could be written about the subject but I hope that this will give you a few new ideas for fighting the good fight.
How do you prepare your heart for God? Leave your comments below and share your experience with others.