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 connect]ed 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

A Holy Experience

Sermon – February 7th 2016

By Roland Legge

Transfiguration Sunday Year C

Gospel: Luke 9:28-43

St. Martins in the Fields Church London England UK July (3)

 

 

 

Imagine you are going on a retreat with Jesus up the mountain. Why a mountain? You see, it was believed that God was more present in high places such as hills and mountains.  Moses also liked to commune with God on a mountain top.  Where do you go to commune with God?

 

I like to think that it was the disciples who really changed on the mountain top.  For the first time his followers really understood in every cell of their bodies who Jesus was.  He was the one they had been waiting for.  He was the Messiah they had long hoped for even though he was not the great military leader they thought he would be.

 

This must have been an emotional high!  They knew they were walking on holy ground.  But it was not an experience that would be easy to share with others, so they remained silent.  Few would believe them because Jesus was not the type of person the Jewish people were expecting.

 

Then it was time to return back to the messy world.   It would not be easy. Yet this encounter with the Holy on the mountain changed Jesus followers.  I suspect they became more confident, courageous and spirit filled to continue journeying in the way of their master Jesus.

 

Where have you experienced the holy?  I think we usually become aware of these experiences after they have happened. These are what we call liminal times when the holy and mundane become one.

 

As a child I can remember being awed by my ability to walk.  My sister Carol and I were staying with our Aunt Helen in Bracebridge while our parents traveled to Montreal for Expo 67.  I have memories of walking around the back yard in utter awe of the complexity of the human body.

 

During the summers of 1985 and 1988 I worked as a student at First United Church in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver which is still one of Canada’s poorest communities. As a child growing up in Vancouver I was taught to avoid the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.  It took me out of my comfort zone.

 

Here in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, I discovered a small town right in the heart of Vancouver.  I experienced many people living out of the Gospel from neighbours helping neighbours, church ministries sharing the physical, emotional and spiritual abundance of God’s love and social agencies all striving to make a difference in the lives of people who had a higher number of obstacles to overcome than most other people.

 

You see, up to then, I had not lived in small town so it was a wonderful shock to me to when people would talk to each other on the street.  While there was a lot of hurt and pain there was an abundance of care for each other.

 

As a minister I am privileged to hear the stories of many people’s lives.  Each person has a powerful story to share.  Often during and after a visit, I am reminded once again that I stand on holy ground.  I have heard stories of great hardship and grace.

 

I always marvel when people are able to turn destructive time in their lives into ministries of grace.  I think of a young woman who traveled around Alberta telling the story of how she contracted HIV/AIDs so she could prevent others from getting it.  I think of another woman I met who told her story how she got out of a violent relationship so others who find themselves in abusive relationships would be encouraged to leave and get help.   When I was talking with both of these women I thought I was standing on holy ground.

 

I love having the opportunity to get together in a small group to deepen my faith in community.    I remember when I was part of small group studying the book “A Hidden Wholeness” by Quaker, Parker J. Palmer.  It introduces us to the spiritual discipline of creating “Circles of Trust” which are groups formed to help each of us to listen to our souls, the spirit of God, within us.  I found that our time together in our group felt like sacred time.  It comes out of my Quaker tradition that uses “Clearness Committee” to help its member and adherents to make some major choices in their lives. It is amazing feeling to sense the power of the holy working through each of us. Do you feel the spirit alive in Foam Lake United Church?

 

Another favourite author I have is Anne Lamott.  She has an amazing ability to show how we encounter the holy in all the ups and down of life.  She shows us how “Mountain top” experiences can happen just about anywhere. She describes in her book “Traveling Mercies” how she and her son Sam were shown that they are valued members of the community and even more importantly children /adults of God by the folk of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church even before Sam was born.  Anne was a single Mom.

Sam was welcomed and prayed for at St. Andrews seven months before he was born.  When I announced during the worship service that I was pregnant, people cheered.  All these old people, raised in the Bible-thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped.  Even the woman who’s grown up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced for me.  And then almost immediately they set about providing for us.  They brought me casseroles to keep in a freezer; they brought me assurance that this baby was going to be part of the family.  And they began slipping me money.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott Anchor Books 1999 Page 101

 

Think of the times you have encountered God close at hand.  Who have been the people who have accepted you just for who you are?  When have you sensed the awe of being alive?  When have been the times you known deeply within you that you have a Holy purpose in your life?

 

I think we need to be reminded over and over again that the Spirit is alive and well in our community working through each of us.  It is tough work, but the Spirit brings us hope and the vision to see the possibilities.  Much of the work you are doing now to discern how you will continue ministry with less clergy support is being done like a clearness committee where you are searching for the will of the Spirit.   It helps us to see beyond our own ego’s that too often gets in the way of making the most life giving choices.

 

We live in a world where we allow a veil to cover the holy, partly to protect ourselves from the awesomeness of God.  Yet the holy, the sacred and mystical are always around us if only we are open to the glimpses of the divine.  May we all remain open to the Spirit knowing there is a better way forward.