It’s not something we like to talk about very much. We sit in church on Sunday morning, or attend a Bible study, and we see people deeply engaged in worship or prayer, but we find that we aren’t really having the same experience. Other people seem to be connecting with God, but not us. Sometimes we feel like we’re on the outside looking in. We have a sense that a vibrant spiritual life is possible, but that it is for other people. God talks to others, just not to us.
This sense of being observers can leave us feeling like we’re deficient somehow – that we’re bad Christians or just not that spiritual. We can feel that there’s something wrong with us. This feeling can lead to lots of problems in our lives. We begin to feel cynical about our faith and about the possibility of connection to God. Or we can start to intellectualize what it means to be a Christian – feeding our heads while our hearts starve.
Over generations, Christian thinkers have written about a lot of different ways to connect to God. These spiritual disciplines, rooted in Scripture, have helped the people of God to have the kind of relationship with God that He wants to have with us. Journey Canada uses a number of these practices to help people, but there are two that we have found particularly powerful, and that we work with every week in our Journey Discipleship Course.
Christians can often think that being “in community” is about going to church on Sunday morning – as long as we’re in a worship service once a week we’ve “done” community. But we all know that it’s easy to slip in and out of church on a Sunday morning without really talking to anyone in a deep or meaningful way. This is not what the Bible has in mind when it talks about church.
James 5 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Community should be a place where we can talk about the things that are most difficult for us – our sins! When we are able to talk about the areas of our lives that hold us in shame, that we’re embarrassed about, we are able to know how God forgives us and wants to be with us in these places. Many of us have things that we worry about – we think that if we’re honest about these things other people won’t want to have anything to do with us. But when we’re honest about the things that we’re ashamed of with people we can trust, we can begin to find freedom from that shame, and begin to find love and support from the people of God.
2. Making room for Jesus
Busyness and distraction can make it hard for us to create the room for a real relationship with God. At Journey, we work hard to create a space of safety and quiet that allows us to speak with God. Exodus tells us that Moses was able to speak with God face-to-face as a person would talk to a friend. Imagine if we met with a friend and all through the conversation we were checking our phone or we talked constantly, never giving the friend a chance to get a word in – that’s not much of a friendship.
Journey provides a place where people can speak their hearts to God – not just the good, theologically correct prayers but also the real, honest struggles and disappointments we have. We give space to tell God not just what we think, but what we feel. We then give Jesus the opportunity to speak to us in whatever way He wants to. We allow for silence and listening, giving us the chance to learn from Him.
By engaging in the practices of community and prayer, we have found that people begin to see changes in their spiritual lives. The great thing is that you don’t have to come to Journey to do these things – you can find people to help you wherever you are!