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 Coaching I Go!

It has been along time since I have written. I have been busy going to school learning to be a Life Coach through the Deep Coaching Institute which I graduated from at the end of February 2017. I have been learning … Continue reading

Tradition: Blessing or Curse

Sermon – Augusts 30th 2015

14th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B)

By Roland Legge

Song of Solomon 2:8-13
James 1:17-27 
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

What do you think of tradition?  How important is tradition?  How do we know when to keep tradition and when to let go of it.

Jesus was trying to answer this very question to the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were concerned that Jesus and his followers were not following all the traditions such as washing their hands before a meal. Jesus felt compelled to challenge these Pharisees who were turning human concepts/traditions into holy laws.

You can imagine how the Pharisees felt after Jesus chastising them.  I don’t think they were feeling very happy.  This didn’t help Jesus popularity.

I don’t think a lot has changed since Jesus day.  Today we still get mixed up as to what we consider appropriate tradition/laws to follow.  For example, in our churches we all have different ideas as to what is proper worship. Think for a moment as to what you believe worship should include.  What songs should we sing?  How often should we have the Peace, if not at all?  How often should we have communion?  How should we offer communion in the pews or up front.  How long should church services last?  What should the minister wear?  Can we challenge some people’s interpretation of the Bible?  How free are we to have open conversations about what we believe?

Throughout my career as a minister I often seem to violate some person’s rules.  I don’t intend to break these rules, other than I stumble into it not knowing what everyone else believes.  I have had people get upset if worship goes a minute over 1 hour.  I have had people get upset when communion is served up front.  I have had people upset if a child makes a noise in church.  I have had people upset when I didn’t move through the communion ritual in the exact way that someone else had decided communion must be done.  I have had people upset when I used a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer.

I think Jesus is trying to suggest that there is no one perfect way to honor God.  There is no perfect way to worship God.  Each of us have our own preferences, but we cannot declare that there is one perfect way to do it.

There is no one perfect way to interpret the Scripture.  While the Bible may be inspired by the Spirit it is still written by people.  It has been translated into many languages and one can never perfectly translate from one language to another.  Always, a nuance of the story is lost.  Some of us will have a certain interpretation of a passage in mind, often something we learned in Sunday school long ago.  But exploring the Scripture is more like a conversation.  It requires each of us to be open to learning anew every time we read the Scripture.  If we stop being open to learning we are in effect shutting out the Spirit from our lives.

Too often we are so stuck in own point of view, preventing us from hearing anything the other person is saying.  I have been guilty of this. So most of us give up when it becomes a one sided conversation.  To continue to spiritually grow we must be open to really listening to what another person is saying.  We don’t have to agree, but we need to really listen and be open to the possibility of changing our minds whether that is a small or big change.

Our whole denomination is now being asked to explore what it means to be church for today. It means, changing how we organize our self as the United Church of Canada.  We are being asked to let go of the many ways we have organized ourselves as church to re-create a more vibrant church that is better able to share our Gospel story in a very different world.  For some of us this will feel like we are breaking the rules, going against tradition!  Yet Jesus message to us calls upon us to open our hearts and minds to seeing the world with fresh new eyes so we can bring healing and hope back to God’s Creation.

I know for many of us, including myself, this can be a scary time, because we are being asked to go forward without knowing he we are exactly going to be doing it.  We will have the wider church, General Council, regional groupings which may be for us Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario.  Then each congregation will become much more independent.  The Spirit is moving us to become more Spirit driven than run by a bureaucracy.

Are you ready for this new freedom?  What is Foam Lake United Church going to look like in 10 years?  Are you ready to face the reality that most young people are not moved to be part of a church that still runs like it did in the 1950’s?  Are you ready to accept that if we continue to operate as usual our church is on a path to death?  But are you ready to experiment?

If we are ready to experiment, the potential for a continuing strong faith community is very possible.  I could suggest many ideas to you.  But to hear them from me is not enough.  For them to make a difference they must come from you the congregation.  I wonder if we need to go back to house churches like the early Christians did.  What do you think?

If we continue to act out of love we cannot go wrong.  If we can assume that we all are trying our best to live out our faith.  If we can continue to build a strong faith through not being afraid of asking questions of ourselves, God and others we can live as a community that respects both unity and diversity.

Living through the Spirit is what Jesus continues to call us to do.  Living out of love that comes out of respect for diversity and a hunger for truth makes us stronger.  Trusting that God works through each of us we can encourage and support each other in making meaning out of our lives and finding the courage to live out the great commandments to love self, neighbor and God will bring hope, peace and justice to the whole world.Tradition from Fidler on the Roof