Do you ever feel like your quiet times with Jesus are becoming stale or too routine? I know I do. Sometimes it can feel like I’m studying a person rather than pursuing a relationship. My guess is you can probably relate.
Over the last 15 years my quiet times with Jesus have usually consisted of the following:
- Reading a section of the Bible
- Studying and pulling out a few observations from it
- Talking to Jesus about how those might apply to my life
- And finally talking to Jesus about those applications and anything else that comes to my mind.
This daily routine has been so good for my soul. God has revealed Himself to me, changed my heart, and given me insights I never would have possessed without His guiding Word.
However, over time these daily devotions can feel lacking. Occasionally, your times with God can feel like a one-way conversation rather than a developing one.
But there is good news. Your times with Jesus can grow and mature. Your intentional times with Jesus actually have the potential to give you insight into something no one else can. What might that be?
Yourself. I mean, who knows your heart better than Jesus? He understands why you do what you do, why your emotions are the way they are, and what needs to change inside of you.
Jesus has the ability to give you a deeper level of spiritual self-awareness (being aware of your spiritual condition) than you’ve ever experienced before, BUT this demands a conversation you maybe have never had with Him before.
If you want to start this journey of spiritual self-awareness with Jesus, begin by asking these three questions today:
1. What has God been consistently telling me?
I was recently sent this meme and the irony is not lost on me.
Even as a pastor I often forget or neglect to adequately process through what God has been telling me.
Whether He uses scripture, a sermon, Godly friends or mentors, God is trying to change your heart… Not simply relay information to your mind.
This means God will often repeat Himself to either remind you, or most likely nudge you to spend more time processing through what His truth means for you.
So what does this practically look like? It looks like intentionally recording what you sense God is revealing to you daily (through His word, sermons, Spirit, Godly friends and mentors) so you will notice when He says it again.
The truth is… If it’s repeated, it’s important.
If you haven’t begun writing it down, say this simple prayer to move you in the right direction.
“Lord, please bring to my mind what you’ve been trying to tell me. Help me to remember or identify what you’ve already said, so I can honor what you’re trying to do in my heart.”
2. How is my heart changing or needing to be changed by Jesus?
Jesus makes it pretty clear that the condition of your heart will affect the testimony of your life. Who you are becoming will always dictate what you do.
But having the spiritual self-awareness to identify the condition of your heart can be difficult. You might sense there is something emotionally or spiritually off, but be unable to verbalize why.
- You’re angry all the time, but not sure where it’s coming from.
- You’re apathetic in your marriage, but think it’s just a phase.
- You lack self-control and assume it’s just who you are.
Or the positive end, Jesus might be completely changing your heart and how you live, but you still might not be able to communicate what aspects of your thinking or emotions Jesus has changed.
- You are no longer angry, but can’t communicate what in your heart or mind has changed that anger.
- You are more passionate in your marriage, but attribute that mostly to going on vacation.
- You become very consistent in spending time with God, but can’t communicate why you have this new hunger inside you.
In the first scenario, you can’t change what’s broken if you don’t know what’s wrong, And second….
You can’t fix something once it breaks again, if you don’t know what caused it to work in the first place.
So what does this practically look like? It’s a conversation you have with Jesus that reveals the condition of your heart. It’s that two way dialogue you’ve been craving, but maybe assumed was impossible. Here is what this might look like.
- Prayer. “Lord… reveal to me what you see in my heart. Gently open my eyes to the reality of myself and lead me to the freedom your truth brings.”
- Listen. What comes to your mind? It’s that small voice that often sounds like you, but what does it say? What comes to your mind when you listen and try to be still. Don’t fight it. Simply listen to what comes. You’ll be surprised what you hear. Most likely it will be short. It won’t be long-winded because this will become a conversation worth having.
- Ask. After you hear something, you will most likely ask, WHY? Or about WHAT? You’ll seek clarity regarding what God is trying to tell you. Go where the conversation leads and keep asking questions.
- Reflect: Based upon where the conversation is going, does this sound like something God would say evidenced by His word, your life, what has been affirmed by others, etc.
- Hold onto Truth Discover: Most likely as the conversation ends you’ll have some nugget of truth that God wants you to hold onto for safe keeping. It will more than influence how you think, it will become what shapes your heart.
To help you actually see what this might look like, I’m going to be vulnerable and share one of my conversations with God.
Conversation with God…
Me: Lord… reveal to me what you see in my heart. Gently open my eyes to the reality of myself and lead me to the freedom your truth brings. (Then I listened to that small voice that sounds like me and it said…)
God: Worried. (I understood that to mean that my heart was worried. I WAS the worried one.)
Me: About what and why am I worried? (I simply went where the conversation was going)
God: You’re worried that if people don’t recognize & acknowledge your leadership giftedness then you actually aren’t a leader worth following. (During this time I reflected upon my frustrations and insecurities as a leader and how those manifest themselves in my life. Jealousy, desire to stand out, motives behind serving, what I do when I’m praised, and where that all comes from. In the end I determined, this sure sounds like God.)
Me: So what’s the truth then? What do I need to know Jesus that will change my heart?
God: Your identity as a leader is found in ME not THEM. Your worth as a leader is being defined by what others say and not what I say.
Me: What do you say God?
God: Faithfulness and not applause is what I measure. (I understood this to mean that my security as a leader had been found too much in what others say about me, and not enough in what God says. My measure of success had become applause not faithfulness, and it was affecting my heart greatly.)
After this conversation my role was to hold onto this truth and begin to identify how this would impact my leadership, thought life, frustrations, and all the other myriad of emotions I experience. For you, it will probably be the same because your heart can’t change if His truth isn’t applied .
3. What emotions have I been feeling that God wants me to investigate?
This final question is simply another way for you to investigate what’s going on underneath. Sometimes I ask God about my heart and don’t hear much from Him. That’s normal.
Sometimes God not saying anything will cause you to look at something you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Emotions are one of those. Emotions you are currently experiencing like jealousy, fear, anger, happiness, security…
Or emotions you are lacking like joy, peace, frustration …
Whether positive or negative, bringing your emotions to Jesus and asking him to reveal to you why you are experiencing or not experiencing them will increase your spiritual self-awareness like never before.
So what does this practically look like? Pick an emotion you are either lacking or one that is disproportionately manifesting itself. Lacking joy for example, or becoming irrationally angry or defensive.
Bring them to Jesus to pray this simple prayer: “Lord, I need your wisdom to understand why I’m feeling/not feeling ______. Bring to my mind truths, past experiences, or whatever has impacted how I’m feeling. Help me understand so I can surrender more of my heart to you.”
As before, after this prayer, listen to Jesus, go where the conversation leads, discern if this sounds like God, and hold onto the truth you’ve discovered.
Would love to hear your thoughts. Scroll below to leave a comment.
What questions would you add to the list or which of the suggested do you find most helpful?