By Carina Alanson, Crosswalk.com
For many years, I mentally divided my time into two categories: quiet time with God—a period of time set aside to pray, read the Bible, and maybe read a devotional or inspirational Christian book—and time for everything else.
Because I deeply desire to grow in my relationship with God, I’ve always taken my daily quiet time seriously, but while time spent reading God’s Word is definitely enjoyable and undoubtedly essential, I couldn’t help but long for more—I wanted to go beyond an isolated appointment and enter into the continuous abiding Jesus speaks of in John 15.
Thankfully, God has helped me see that I can enjoy His presence in a variety of ways, and He has even expanded my concept of God-time to include many activities I previously thought of as “non-spiritual.” As I’ve embraced this expanded view of what spending time with God looks like, I’ve begun to move beyond a once-a-day encounter with God into a more consistent, throughout-the-day connection to His presence. As a result, my relationship with Him has grown and reached new depths—and I know there’s still so much deeper for me to go!
How about you? Are you longing to grow deeper in your relationship with God? Do you want nothing more than to fulfill Jesus’ command to abide in Him and to experience His presence throughout your day? If so, here are three of my favorite ways to spend time with Him beyond my morning devotional time:
1. Worshipping at Home
Often, we relegate worship to a half-hour time slot at church on Sunday morning. But sometime within the last few years, I started to get more intentional about worshipping at home. Not just listening to worship music, which is something I enjoy and have done for years, but actually singing out loud along with the music. (Sometimes, I even dance, which I’m almost embarrassed to admit because dancing is not something that comes naturally to me at all, and it’s not something I’ll probably ever do publicly! Yet, it’s an act of bodily worship that has released so much freedom in my heart and relationship with God.)
One thing I love about worshiping at home is that it allows me to minister to God while doing other tasks. In fact, some of my most amazing worship sessions with God have occurred while I was walking on the treadmill, preparing dinner, or cleaning the house.
Since I’ve started worshipping actively at home, it has opened up a deeper level of intimacy with God, and I’m often amazed at how God meets me and expresses His love for me during times of worship.
How about you? Do you sing out loud at home? If not, I encourage you to give it a try. If you’re self-conscious about your voice, it’s totally fine to wait until you have a bit of time alone or wait until you’re in your car—that’s what I do!
2. Creating in His Presence
Two passions God has planted in my heart are writing and painting, and I’ve had amazing encounters with God while expressing the creativity He put inside me. One time, I sat on my couch with rivers of tears flooding my face as I wrote a poem about the Messiah and felt God reassuring me of His faithfulness to keep His promises. Another time, I spent hours painting cats, and while it was a very simple project and might sound silly, I felt His presence so close within and around me. These and other times I’ve encountered God through art have been so sweet because not only do I feel Him affirming the gifts He’s put within me, I feel such a tangible sense of partnering with Him as I create.
You might be thinking, “That’s cool, but I’m not a writer or a painter—I’m not even creative.” But even if you don’t consider yourself “creative,” chances are, there is some creative outlet you enjoy from time to time (after all, you are created in God’s image, and He is the ultimate Creator!).
Consider: Do you enjoy arranging flowers? Do you like to concoct new recipes or cook up nourishing meals for your friends or family? Do you relish quilting together intricately patterned fabric? Do you enjoy building models or solving mechanical problems? Do you enjoy decorating for the holidays or crafting elaborate hairstyles?
Whatever your creative expression, I encourage you to turn your heart to God in the midst of your creative process. Seek His presence, and enjoy your time creating with Him, just as you might with a dear friend who shares the same passion.
3. Connecting through Recreation
Like the creative efforts of painting, writing, quilting, or cooking, we might not typically think of recreational activities as devotional. But abiding in Jesus and spending time with Him is often more about how we posture our hearts than how we posture our bodies. It’s about simply turning our hearts toward God. It’s about seeking and embracing Him in the midst of wherever we find ourselves and in whatever we’re doing.
Personally, I often feel closest to God while enjoying the outdoors: I sense His peace deeply while walking or sitting in the forest, I’m filled with wonder at His beauty when I ski through a snowy winter wonderland, and my heart soars with His joy when I splash through frothy ocean waves. I know of other people who connect with God while playing the piano and some who meet with Him while tinkering in the garage.
What are your preferred recreational activities? As you enjoy them, search for God’s presence. One way you’ll know you’ve found His presence is when you encounter the fruit of the Spirit. Do you feel peace when you’re camping in the woods? Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, and where there is peace, there is the Spirit—God is there. Do you feel joy when you tuck tiny seeds into soft soil? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and where there is joy, God is. Do you feel freedom when you run through your suburban neighborhood? Freedom, too, is a fruit of God’s Spirit, and where there is freedom, God is present. Recreation isn’t frivolous; rather, it’s an opportunity to enjoy God’s presence, which is the ultimate purpose of our lives.
Fullness of Joy
While daily quiet time with God is definitely an important practice, let’s not stop there! The truth is, God isn’t limited to a specific place or time block—He is everywhere (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Psalms 139:7-12) and fills all things (Ephesians 1:23). No matter where we go or what we do, God is present, and we have an opportunity to connect with Him and enjoy Him if only we’ll turn our hearts and attention toward Him.
While I hope these ideas help you connect with God in new ways, they’re just a sampling of the ways we can commune with Him. I pray that together, we continue to find fun and creative ways to meet with God. As we do, we will be filled with fresh joy throughout our days because, as King David declared, it’s in God’s presence that we find the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)!
Photo Credit: ©Israel Sundseth/Unsplash
Carina Alanson is a former professional counselor turned writer and artist who is passionate about helping women live with purpose and grow in their relationship with God. She lives in the subarctic town of Fairbanks, Alaska, where she enjoys going on scenic drives with her husband, skiing, snowshoeing, and reading by the fire. Visit carinaalanson.com to connect with Carina and get her free journaling workbook, How Do I Know if a Desire is From God? 5 Questions to Help You Decide, plus other resources for purposeful living. You can also connect with her on Instagram @carinaalanson and on Facebook @carinaalanson.