There are times in our walk with God when we feel distant from Him, yet we aren’t sure how to get back to that place of intimacy we once knew so well. Our lives are so busy and our days are jam packed with things to do and places to go. Worries, concerns, and endless plans send our thoughts racing. We wonder how we’ll ever find our way back to drawing near to God.
In this situation, one thing is for certain: we won’t reconnect if we don’t make the effort to do it. God is knocking at the door of our heart. He’s waiting for us to respond. He’s not waiting for us to clean up our act—to quit sinning, quit being selfish, or quit thinking negative thoughts. He’s just waiting for us to respond to His knock by opening the door and letting Him in. But how do we even do that?
In my experience, the most important thing we must do is find a block of alone time. This means carving it out wherever it can be found. Even if that means getting up extra early or escaping in the middle of the day (with instructions not to interrupt unless there is blood or fire). It’s essential that we find a place where we can quiet our minds and be still before God—for a while.
How we spend that time with God is very important.
If we enter with no plan, we’ll probably leave just as unfulfilled as when we came. I usually enter with a commitment to spend time in praise and prayers of praise. I often write these praises or prayers in my journal; sometimes I open my Bible to the Psalms and begin proclaiming His praises straight from His Word. I praise the Lord even, and especially, when I don’t feel like it. This is so important because it is an effort led by the Spirit, not by my flesh. If I only praise God when I feel like it, then I’m a flesh-led believer. I must praise God with my spirit, even when my flesh says, “I’m tired; I’m stressed; I don’t feel good; I’m discouraged; I’m angry and frustrated; I can’t praise God now.” I just begin praising and within a short amount of time, my flesh begins to follow after my spirit.
Sometimes I have to spend the entire time praising God, but that is not time wasted. You see, the very act of praising God is probably the most significant thing we can do as followers of Christ. God is empowered to work in our spirit and lives through the avenue of our worship and praise. It’s not for Him that we praise Him; He doesn’t need our praise. It’s for us. It’s a tool God gave us for victory and to usher us into His presence. He is so holy, so beautiful, so awesome. Our small minds cannot even know how much He deserves our praise, but when we participate in praise, we benefit because we are walking out a truth we don’t even understand. We are agreeing with all of heaven and unleashing the power of God into our situation. When we praise Him with His Word, we are agreeing with God that all He says is true.
The power of praise is seen clearly in the story of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. When the good king learned that a mighty army composed of three kingdoms was heading his way, he sought the Lord in prayer. What the Lord inspired him to do in response defies reason. He was told he would be victorious. But, instead of warriors, he sent out a large band of worshipers into battle. When these worshipers went out, their praises to the Lord brought about an unexpected result—they confounded the enemy. In their confusion, these armies began fighting one another and were conquered without Jehoshaphat’s army lifting a finger.
There is another story in 2 Kings 6 that sheds some light on this. When the prophet Elisha was suddenly encompassed by a huge band of warriors, he was unafraid. He knew that the ones with God’s people were more than those who were against them. He asked God to open his servant’s eyes to the real battle so that he could see the truth. The servant’s eyes were opened to what Elisha already knew—millions of mighty angels were standing guard, protecting them from their foes. Though fighting in the natural world, their enemy was not just flesh and blood. They were in a spiritual battle that was going to be won in the spirit realm through the mighty angels of God. Instructive for us, what was happening in the natural was also happening in the spirit realm.
This brings more enlightenment to Jehoshaphat’s story. When the praises rang out, the demonic forces that were guiding the coming army scattered and their purposes scattered with them. Praise empowers God’s people because it empowers the spiritual forces that work on our behalf by scattering the enemy that is trying to keep the people of God from being productive and safe. The battles we face in the natural have a spiritual component as well. In fact, we are told in Ephesians that our battle is not against flesh and blood. That’s often hard to believe, but we’re told that our battle is against spiritual forces that would bring us down.
This is why praising God is so effective. When I enter into that quiet place, I praise God whether I feel like it or not, and I praise Him for as long as it takes to defeat the enemies that would cause me to stumble. Discontentment, strife, fear, loneliness, anger, stress, discouragement, and despair can all be defeated by the simple act of drawing near to God through praise.
One of my favorite Psalms to read aloud in praise to God is Psalm 103. I’ve included it below. I hope it encourages you today as you meditate on the greatness of God.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, his acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Read on for more insight on connecting with God.