If you’re like me, overcoming the noise in the quiet place is like trying to have a conversation next to a jet engine. When you attempt to be alone and quiet with God, everything that could go through your mind comes all at once – as if you invited the world’s problems to invade right then. Like I used to do, you stop trying to get alone and quiet with God. There’s no sense; you can’t hear him anyway.
Mere excuses became solid reasons for you to avoid spending alone time with God so you gave up. But if you’re serious about your spiritual journey, you need to decide now to return to a prayer closet, a specified place and time, to reconnect with God. Here are some tips to make the walk a little bit easier.
Tip #1: Become Determined
Here’s a great story of determination.
I love the book of Daniel. It’s almost like Daniel is my hero, seriously. He had such a strong character, and I enjoy reading how Daniel stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar. Often he stood up to him when the king didn’t even realize what was happening, especially in the first chapter. Destruction had fallen upon Jerusalem, by this point in the Bible, and the Israelites imprisoned in Babylon. Daniel was a teenaged Israelite from the tribe of Judah. Chosen as healthy, good-looking men, he and his three friends resided in the king’s palace receiving training in the culture of Babylon.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s chief of staff had chosen them to receive specialized training, as the king had ordered. Along with the training, all the chosen Israelite men also received the choicest foods from the king’s kitchen. But the food offered was against the laws of the Israelites, so Daniel asked a favor of the chief of staff. “Give us only vegetables and water.” But the chief of staff refused, fearing for his life if Daniel became sick.
So, Daniel talked to the guard, whom the chief of staff had ordered to care for them. Daniel said, “Give us only vegetables and water for ten days and see if we are not healthier than the others who are eating from the king’s table.” The guard made the deal. At the end of the ten days, Daniel and the three were healthier and in better condition than the others.
Isn’t that a great story? I agree. Why did I go into such detail? The important is for you to see that Daniel was determined to have his way. In the NIV it says that he was “resolved.” I love that! For Daniel to get through his life in Babylon, he had to be resolved to stay faithful to God. There are many other examples of Daniel’s determination to remain faithful to God (the lion’s den, the fiery furnace, and so on.)
Read the whole book of Daniel and tell me if you don’t gain strength and courage to stay resolved to enter the quiet place, and staying there. I think you’ll find you can use some of his resolve and determination to keep you focused. Be intentional about the time and place where you will meet God to build your spiritual foundation.
Tip #2: Keep Stuff Out of the Quiet Place
Being resolved to daily quiet time with God does not immediately mean life won’t want to enter and disturb every aspect of quieting down and centering. You need to become intentional about your focus.
You can’t focus in your prayer closet when it’s jammed with junk. Leave the outside world outside the door (and windows if you have them). The chores will get done when they get done. You can’t receive with your mind cluttered with the outside world, and hands full of work to do. Fill your space up with the things you need to accomplish alone time with God. Things like a chair, table, lamp, candles, iPod, and thick drapes to close out the world as well as books, journals, Bibles, highlighters, and pens. Don’t fill the space with a computer, or phone, or a clock. Keep out the laundry, the cat, the dog, the baby, the…you get my drift. Take out the earthly-focus and replace it with heavenly-focus (Colossians 3:2).
Tip #3: Ways to Stay Focused in the Quiet Place
Often when trying to listen to God’s still small voice, the noise starts again. When I first started getting serious about communicating with God again, I remember struggling so hard to stay focused during prayer. One great tip I received helped me then and still helps during times when I just can’t shut off or tune out the noise.
Take a blank, white sheet of paper – like printer paper – and a black magic marker. Think of a word that speaks to you about God, like LOVE, or GRACE, MERCY, etc. It’s your word, you choose! Then write it across the paper in huge letters. Before going to prayer stare at it for about a minute. Then, close your eyes. You’ll see the negative of the word imprinted on the back of your eyelids. Then start praying. If thoughts start to cross your mind, focus on that word, if the mark starts to fade, look at the paper again and continue.
Don’t give up. When the devil sees that his attempts at filling your mind with useless images and chores aren’t working, he’ll eventually give up. Keep the paper around and continue to use it as your prayer life gets stronger. Eventually, you may not need it as often. One refreshing truth is that God created your mind and he understands the responsibilities you carry (Psalm 33:15).
Another trick I use is also simple. In the room, I have a special pad of paper designed for me to write down anything that creeps into my mind of “things to do” or “people to call;” anything that tried to interrupt my time with God. When those thoughts came, I wrote them down. For me, it helps me feel confident that I won’t forget something important. Then I can return my focus to the amazing things God is revealing through our time together. It worked then, and still works today.
God desire is a deeper relationship with you, but often you can’t seem to focus enough to communicate openly. Your mind gets bombarded with feelings that the noise cannot get resolved. Overcome the feelings by implementing some simple tricks to outwit the devil. God gave him authority, but He didn’t give him any power over you or your thoughts. As you show him how serious you are, he’ll realize he has no power and will leave you alone.
Remember, God is on your side, drawing you into a relationship with him. Don’t turn your excuses into reasons that harden your heart toward him. The noise of the world isn’t worth missing out on His presence. He’s waiting, patiently for you, in the quiet place.