In our busy, time-poor culture many of us find it hard to carve out moments in our day to focus on prayer, scripture reading and just to be still and consciously practise being in the presence of God. Even though I have been a Christian for almost 40 years I still struggle with this. So I asked 10 Christians from very different situations and who have very different personalities, what they do to make space to be with God. Because they are so different it is no surprise that their feedback was incredibly diverse. From a weekend in a retreat centre or monastery - to long walks in the countryside, from listening to praise/worship tapes in a car - to visiting a cathedral - followers of Christ use a wide range of methods to take time out to be and refresh their walk with God. I've found their honesty and their ideas really helpful - I hope you will also find these accounts encourage you to make space for God in creative ways in the days and weeks ahead.
Finding God in the waiting room
Ali Hull is a freelance editor, writer and PR consultant, and co-author of 'Tracing the Rainbow’.
I find getting away from the daily routine difficult because I work from home. I have to get right away from the house, or else I escape into a book. My favourite retreat location is Cumbria, just wandering in God's creation. There is something timeless and restoring about the fells, which tend to put the rest of life into perspective. I also find public transport can be a good place to find God, and am so used to praying on trains that it has almost become a habit. I've also had some powerful times with God just sitting in station waiting rooms, sipping steaming cups of tea. Cathedrals are another of my favourite places - Bristol Cathedral has a wonderful stained glass window and I just look at it and sense the presence of God in a building where He has been worshipped for hundreds of years.
Letting God find me every day
Dr Jonathan Oloyede is one of the senior pastors at Glory House, a black majority church in East London.
I've always had a hectic lifestyle. From when I was converted from Islam to Christ in my University years in the 1980's when I was juggling studies in biochemistry, anatomy, histology, immunology, chemical pathology and the other 'ologies' with leading Bible studies and other duties - life was like trying to eat four jam doughnuts at once! The Lord told me to live my life in rhythms; he also gave me the ability to switch off, no matter what is around me. I can have a glorious encounter with the Lord in a smelly, packed underground train as well as if I was on a Mediterranean beach. Early in my Christian life I downloaded the Bible into my mind and spirit. In fact I almost failed my medical exams doing that! I pored over scripture, meditated the Psalms and Proverbs, read through all the stories over and over again. For me, like Paul (1Timothy 4:12) the Bible is the inspired word of God, once you've got it, you can hear God anywhere. I take power worship naps, close my office or bedroom door and practice soaking in His presence. I am learning to let God find me everyday. The secret is in the practice. Try it, close your office door or if you don't have one go to the gents or ladies! Close your eyes, control your breathing and focus on Jesus. If I have a particular problem I ask him, “What do YOU think about my problem? Then I wait for his answer and keep waiting.
Giving out gets me going
Sharon Anson is a director of Grassroots (grassroots.org.uk), travels widely and is mother to three children under six years old.
A stagnant pond is one with no out-flow. One of the keys to my regaining spiritual vibrancy is having the opportunity to give what I have of Jesus into other people's lives. Obviously I do pray and read Scripture - although with three small children finding the space is miraculous - but it is ministering and missioning that rejuvenates my walk with the Lord. It might be responding to a call from a family in crisis, or an opportunity to lead a church weekend, or whatever. Interacting with people who are seeking to find meaning and purpose always gets me praying! I was brought up to believe that 'time with God' had to be by myself; but more and more I am learning that Jesus loves spending time in the cut and thrust of serving people in the community (Matthew 28:20). So to meet Him afresh, that's often where I'll find him!
At the gym with the Holy Spirit
Dr Mark Stibbe is Vicar of St Andrews Chorleywood, an author and conference speaker.
Three times every week my P.A. Melissa books P.E. time in my diary. This happens over the lunch break and stands for 'Personal Event' (a phrase of best-selling novelist Dan Brown's!). I go to a gym and spend an hour exercising. I find that running on the treadmill allows me space to think and to listen to God in an incredibly intensive way. Usually I find myself getting into a zone where I am deaf to everything except the Holy Spirit. I receive some of my most creative ideas for preaching and writing during these sessions. I also often find myself worshipping quietly. In addition, the drive there and back gets me out of the parish and allows me to listen to the Lord. The whole experience is fantastic for my body as well as my soul and greatly enhances my sleep, my work rate, myrelationships and above all my relationship with the Father. It's a lifesaver for me.