How to Connect with God without Going to Church

Silhouette of woman praying to godGod is in the in-between. Spirit lives within us and around us. Spirit connects us with all of life both animate and inanimate. To communicate with God, we need to stay present and open to the wisdom that is available to us all the time. You don’t need to go to church to open your channels to higher vibrations.

Here are Nine ways to connect with God without going to church.

1.       Slow Down:

Your life is precious! You have a limited time on this fantastic planet earth. It is your job to make the most of it.  Staying open to this limitless sacred energy helps you to know how to live your life fully.  You will discover a natural flow to life that will carry you on like a gentle river.

If you want to stay connected with God, you need to slow down so the Spirit can get your attention. It is hard to remain related to the Holy when your life is so busy that you barely have time to sleep. God’s light will be revealed in our lives whenever we open up space for it to shine.

Make time for God, and you will be blessed.

2.       Meditate and or Prayer:

Meditation and prayer are all about creating openings for the Holy to reveal itself in our lives. Meditation can help you to experience God within yourself through your body, emotions, and mind. Prayer is more like an open conversation with Spirit.

There are countless ways to pray and meditate. One method you can use both is Centering Prayer. Father Thomas Keating has brought this practice back into our modern consciousness.  I love it because it does not require us to empty your mind. You choose a focus word to help bring you back into presence whenever you get too focused on a thought.

In the end, you need to find a practice that works for you.  You can have a conversation with God, but don’t expect instant answers. It may seem like God is not hearing you, but years later you will find that God did respond; not necessarily in the way, you had hoped. Prayer can include a lot of active waiting.  It is about living as though your prayer is answered but without any expectation of how God is going to respond.

There are many traditions to explore from a variety of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. Then there are the Eastern religions/philosophies to explore. There is no wrong or right way to pray. The only condition you should put on prayer and meditation is the holy intention of generosity, love, and respect.

Don’t expect this to be easy at the beginning. You will need to practice this new habit most days of the week, intentionally, before it becomes a regular part of your life.

 

3.       Enjoy the Outdoors:

Most of us feel connected to something higher than us when we are out in God’s fabulous natural world. I love walking along the seashore, lakes, and rivers. I love the grandeur of the mountains!  What do you enjoy?

Find where these sacred places are for you whether you live in the country or urban area. Make time for it. Go to these sites and just be. Soak in the beauty, wonder, and energy of the place.  Take deep breaths to quiet the mind so you can truly soak in the ambiance of the area. You will come out of these experiences at a higher vibrational level.

4.       Stay Open to Finding God within Yourself:

God is within you! God is as close as your breath and the beat of your heart. Going within helps you to find the oneness of God within you. Yes, you are worthy.  Yes, you are loveable.  Yes, you have a purpose in the world.

You might journal about how God is active in your life. Explore all the small and big things you have done that have made the world a better place whether that be for a person, pet, wild animal or for the whole earth.  Everything we do that blesses the earth, and all its inhabitants make a difference.

How do you know if it is God who is speaking to you?  It isn’t God if you are feeling shame. It isn’t God if it is destructive or violent. It isn’t God if you are trying to control or manipulate another person.

With practice, you will know the difference.

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5.       Look for God in each Person You Meet:

You meet all sorts of people every day. Try looking for God in each person you meet. It will change the way you see the world. It is tough to get angry with someone when you are open to the divine in them. Even if you can’t see God in another person, just know that God is there.

It is the holy within you that connects with the sacred in all people you meet, even people you don’t know. You know that you are part of God’s great family which includes every person on this earth.

6.       Stay open to Experiencing Spirit in Unexpected Places:

God will surprise you! Think for a moment of an experience of someone encouraging you or helping you, who you never realized cared about you.

Maybe it was the time a stranger stopped to give you directions. Perhaps it was the time when a person you had never met changed your flat tire. Maybe it was all the neighbors who brought you food when you were going through a rough time. Don’t focus just on people. Animals are amazing. Our pet dogs and cats intuitively know when you have a rough time.  Even wild animals warn us of wildfires. They let us know what kind of winters are to happen.

The most challenging gift from God is when it comes from a person you don’t like. It could be a sincere apology from a person who hurt you many years ago. An apology doesn’t mean you are required to become buddies with them. It can be enough to free you from the painful experience this person caused you many years ago.

 

7.       Find Music that Touches Your Soul:

What type of music touches your heart? Music can help you to get in touch with the inner part of your soul. I love Celtic music. What do you enjoy?

Music can take us to places in the heart that no words could ever hope to achieve. Music is universal. Everyone can appreciate music no matter where you come from, what you believe or how old you are.

There is spiritual music that is universal because it gets you in touch with the rhythms of life. Take time to listen to music that inspires you. Music is incredible when you are feeling down. Music can re-balance the body, heart, and mind.

Music takes you to your spiritual depths. It returns you to thin places where the holy and ordinary become one.  When you find yourself in thin places, you find joy in just being.

 

8.       Honor Your Body as a Sacred Place:

When you acknowledge that the Spirit is within you, it changes the way you see yourself. You begin to see yourself as valuable just for being you.

When you can feel the sacredness within you, you are called to take care of yourself. Imagine your body is your church, shrine, mosque, or any other holy structure. Our bodies need good food, exercise, relaxation, and meaningful work.

Our souls need loving relationships. Our emotional, spiritual and physical health needs attention, time and practice.

9.       Practise Radical Gratitude:

Practising radical gratitude opens the heart to the soul. Radical gratitude is the art of giving thanks to everything good in our lives. It can be:

·         The Sun that keeps us warm and helps to grow the food we eat

·         The Moon that controls the tides

·         Water that sustains life

·         Food that supports life on our planet

·         Friendship

·         Our pets

·         Animals, fish, insects e.c.t.

What else can you add to this list?

 

Practising this art of loving the world opens you up to experience the holy in your life. It is an excellent way for you to keep God in your day every day.  Our experience of the Spirit will become increasingly aware of the sacred the more you practice living with thanksgiving each day.

As you can see that connecting with God without going to church is achievable every day; but it does take practice.

It takes intentionality through slowing down, meditating, praying, enjoying the outdoors, looking for God within your self, being open to God in each person you meet, being open to experiencing God in an unexpected place, enjoy music that touches your soul, treat your body well and practice radical gratitude.

Staying attuned to God is a lifelong journey.  You are required to make these practices a regular part of your life if you want to live life to your best.

The best part is that you know deep within yourself you are never alone; the universe always holds you.

Yes, you don’t need a church to do this, but finding a community of like-minded people to encourage you on your journey is often helpful. But this can be any group. It doesn’t need to be a formal religious organization.

Find what you need to thrive with joy, hope, and purpose.  You are worth it!

 

Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478, or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com

 

This article was first published at REL Consultants

Whom do we choose to live by?

Sermon – October 5th 2014

16th Sunday after Pentecost

By Roland Legge

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-46

I don’t like today’s passage from Matthew!  It has such violent images.  Why am I using it?  I am using it because it has been used by too many Christians over the centuries to oppress our Jewish brothers and sisters.

First, I think it is important to remember that Jesus was a Jew.  Jesus was an Israelite. Jesus never intended to start another religion he only wanted to reform his own.

The Gospel according to Matthew was written by a Jew in a time when there was a lot of pain between Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah and those who didn’t.  It was a painful time—not unlike some of the conflicts we have faced in the United Church of Canada which divided congregations.  These conflicts divided many families, just like conflicts in the early days of Jesus’ ministry.

The parable of the Vineyard was probably adapted from a Parable that Jesus actually said.  In Jesus’ time he was simply wanting to his encourage his followers to keep on going despite the anger by those in power both the Roman Empire and the religious establishment.  I need to be clear that the religious establishment did not represent all Jews.  There were many who were opposed to their intention to keep the power in the hands of a few people—not unlike the Papacy of today or sometime even our General Council of the United Church.

Sadly, this scripture has been used as justification to abuse and kill Jews throughout the centuries.  We must change this way of thinking throughout Christianity.  This is why the United Church of Canada has been working hard to build relationships with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Through these relationships we can better understand each other and find ways to work and worship together.  This doesn’t mean we are always going to agree. No two Christians or Jews will agree on everything.  There is great diversity of views in both religions.

I love this re-telling of the Parable, told by William H. Willimon, which reflects on how Christians have treated Jews. He says:

The church in its dealings with the Jewish people has acted like the bad relations in this parable:
A family, who lived in a beautiful house beside a blue lake, was surprised to hear a knock at the door one morning. There stood at their front door a couple with two children. They were even more surprised when the couple told them, “We are your long-lost relatives from out west. We have come to visit you for just a couple of days. Can we come in?”
The family, though surprised by these relatives whom they had never heard of, graciously received them into their home, and began to graciously entertain them for the next couple of days. After two days had passed, the relatives said that they would like to stay a few days longer. The family graciously agreed.
But then, the family began to notice that their guests, their long-lost relatives, were beginning to behave less like guests and more like permanent residents. The relatives began to redecorate the room they had been given. In fact, they spilled out of the guest room and took over two additional rooms in the house, rearranging the furniture, taking pictures off the walls and putting different pictures there that they had brought with them, and in general, acting as if they owned the place.
Still, the family tried graciously to welcome them and make them feel at home. The trouble was, the guests were beginning to feel a bit too much at home. Two weeks went by, and still the relatives, whom the family thought were only temporary guests, were with them.
One day there was a knock at the door and the family was surprised to see six or seven people standing at the door, holding their suitcases. They had never seen the people before and were startled when their relatives called out from the four rooms they were now occupying in the home, “Oh, those are some of our friends from out west. We told them what a nice house you live in, and invited them to come stay with us and visit. We knew you wouldn’t mind because you are so gracious.”
Well, I won’t go into the rest of the story, but you can probably figure out how it ended. After a couple of months, the family had been reduced to living in only one room of their own house, while their temporary “guests” had taken over the entire house for themselves. Eventually, in dismay, the family – feeling like strangers in their own home – moved away, driven out by those whom they had once received so graciously.
Take this as a parable, akin to the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 21 of the wicked tenants in the vineyard.

 

Sadly, we Christian began to impose our particular ways on our Jewish brothers and sisters and tried to make them look inferior. We would go to great lengths to destroy their communities.  We must not let this happen again.

So what can we get out of today’s Scripture? I think we all fall short of following the way of Jesus and we need to reflect on ourselves.   It is against the ways of Jesus to put down his own people.

I believe the Spirit calls upon us in our families and communities to hold each other responsible for following the Great Commandment: love God with all your heart and soul, to love your neighbour as yourself and to honor and respect yourself as a man/woman of God.  We are the only ones who can change ourselves and we need to focus on ourselves rather than put others down to lift ourselves up.

Canada is becoming more and more a multi-faith country.  I hope we will seek to get to know people of other faiths and philosophies and recognize what we have in common. We can allow our differences to help each of us grow into being more understanding, compassionate and open minded.  May the Creator help us, of different faiths, to work together for a better world and let the Spirit lead us to a just, loving and sustainable world that will honor all of Creation.

 

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