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How to Connect to God

Discover your soul's unique path in worship.

Scripture tells us that the same God is present from Genesis to Revelation—though people worshiped that one God in many ways: Abraham had a religious bent, building altars everywhere he went. Moses and Elijah revealed an activist's streak in their various confrontations with forces of evil and in their conversations with God. David celebrated God with an enthusiastic style of worship, while his son Solomon expressed his love for God by offering generous sacrifices. Ezekiel and John described loud and colorful images of God, stunning in sensuous brilliance. Mordecai demonstrated his love for God by caring for others, beginning with the orphaned Esther. Mary of Bethany is the classic contemplative, sitting at Jesus' feet.

These and other biblical figures of the Old and New Testaments confirmed to me that within the Christian faith are many different and acceptable ways of demonstrating our love for God. Our temperaments will cause us to be more comfortable in some of these expressions than others—and that's perfectly acceptable to God. Not everyone was created to worship through singing, for instance. In fact, by worshiping God according to the way he made us, we are affirming his work as Creator.

Here are nine distinct spiritual pathways for worship. What ways do you most closely connect with and worship God?

Worship through nature

Where we worship can have a profound impact on the quality of our worship. The naturalist seeks to leave the formal architecture and the padded pews to enter an entirely new "cathedral," a place that God himself has built: the out-of-doors.

Naturalists have found that getting outside can flood parched hearts and soften the hardest soul. Individual worshipers or small groups find great benefit in slipping away to a quiet spot to meet with God in nature.

Worship through the senses

This person—the sensate—wants to be lost in the awe, beauty, and splendor of God. She's moved more by a sensuous worship experience—using the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. She's drawn particularly to the liturgical, the majestic, the grand. Incense, intricate architecture, classical music, and formal language send her heart soaring. When we reduce all Christian worship to mere intellectual ascent, we force Christians to worship God in a crippled existence. When we embrace the use of the senses, we open entirely new avenues of worship.

Worship through ritual and symbol

The traditionalist needs structure to worship. She is fed by what are often termed the historic dimensions of faith: rituals (liturgy), symbols (significant images), sacraments, and sacrifice (such as Lent). These Christians tend to have a disciplined life of faith. Some may be seen as legalists, defining their faith largely by matters of conduct.

Worship through solitude and simplicity

The ascetic worshiper's motto is "Just leave me alone and let me pray." Her temperament gravitates toward solitude, austerity, simplicity, discipline, and deep commitment. It's the "monastic" temperament, so to speak, representing believers who find that these elements awaken their souls to God's presence. It's often in dark, intense, and lonely times that ascetics' souls awaken.

Worship through activism

Activists are spiritually nourished through the battle. They define worship as standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance. They often view church as a place to recharge their batteries so they can go back into the world to wage war against injustice. The fear involved in confrontation creates a certain dependence on God that isn't normally there. Activists don't just love God, they need him—desperately. They are never satisfied playing it safe. They need to experience the exhilaration of seeing a miraculous God come through in miraculous ways.

Worship through service

This path is the caregiving path—they connect to God most by serving and reaching out to others. It's the picture of a heart overflowing with love and spilling out onto those around her. She may also find the devotional lives of contemplatives and enthusiasts as selfish. She sees caring for others as evidence of a supernatural touch by God. And she worships God more strongly when changing an adult's diaper than when sitting quietly in prayer.

Worship through mystery and celebration

Excitement and mystery in worship is the spiritual lifeblood of enthusiasts. They enjoy a celebratory form of worship as well as many of the more supernatural forms of faith. People with this spiritual temperament like to let go and experience God on the precipice of excitement and awe. If their hearts aren't moved, if they don't experience God's power, something is missing. They don't want to just know concepts; they want to experience them, feel them, be moved by them.

Worship through deep adoration

Contemplatives refer to God as their lover, and images of a loving Father and Bridegroom predominate their view of God. The focus is not necessarily on serving God, doing his will, accomplishing great things in his name, or even obeying God. Rather, these Christians seek to love God with the purest, deepest, and brightest love imaginable. Contemplatives want nothing more than some privacy and quiet to gaze upon the face of their heavenly lover and give all of themselves to God.

Worship through the mind

Just as the contemplative can spend hours basking in the presence of God, so an intellectual can spend long seasons contemplating a challenging verse or concept. Intellectuals will especially derive great benefit from getting formal theological education. They feel closest to God when their minds are stimulated and they learn something new about him that they didn't understand before. Concepts, apologetics, and truth are strongly connected with the way intellectuals worship.

If you are stalled in your Christian life, it may be that you need a change in your spiritual approach. Finding fulfillment in God is the most powerful antidote to any sin. Also, we are all bound by Mark 12:30, where we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As a result, we should all exhibit "adoration, belief, commitment, and service," no matter our worship preferences.

Adapted from Sacred Pathways ©1996 by Gary Thomas. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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Awe; Connecting; Praise; Relationship with God; Worship
Today's Christian Woman, August , 2010
Posted August 2, 2010

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