A blog subscriber’s e-mail responding to the latest post in our Love Series: One Way We Can Receive God’s Love, inspired today’s post.
M’s e-mail said: “Please share any responses you get about how people receive God’s love!” I directed her toward readers’ comments to the post.
And then something unexpected happened today where I felt God’s love—but first a prologue—to set the context.
God daily showers his love on me through common grace (sunshine, rain, birds, butterflies) and specific grace. But am I paying attention?
Am I grateful? When I take the time to notice and say thanks, I receive and experience God’s love more than when I’m oblivious.
And God has shown his unconditional love in one key way available to all.
One way many (including myself) receive or attune to God’s ever present love is to pay attention.
I pay attention to those nudges from the Spirit, such as thoughts which don‘t originate from me but which also don’t contradict God’s Word and his character, “coincidences,” or what moves me to tears or to laughter.
I also pay attention to the person or situation in front of me.
In short, I pay attention to what is in and around me because I believe God’s Spirit is in me and with me.
At times I’m distracted or I don’t want to do what the Spirit prompts me to do. But I’ve learned the more responsive I am to those nudges or insights, then the more I train myself to better discern God’s love and movement in my life.
In short, I experience the reality of God’s love more.
It isn’t all rainbows because sometimes the Spirit has shown me a grief I haven’t grieved, or a sin I needed to repent of, or something I’d rather not know about myself or a situation. (God acts in love but it isn’t always pleasant.)
Sometimes I get it wrong.
God’s word has helped me develop a greater sense of God’s character as I’ve read, studied, and meditated on Scripture over the years. (Think of someone you’ve known a long time and how you’ve gotten to know that person’s likes, dislikes, and character.)
As I’ve drawn closer to God, he has slowly transformed me from the inside-out (2 Corinthians 3:18) and continues to do so.
Eighteen years ago, my internal antennae were not as attuned to God as they are today.
Back to what happened today as promised . . . .
This morning a thought arose: Read Mark Batterson’s book Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. I almost brushed the inner nudge aside because I had already read it last year. But I had prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to guide me today.
So I picked up my copy and since today is the 27th, I read the Day 27 reading.
I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic.
Mark’s words hit like a Spirit-led bulls-eye to my heart.
As some of you know, I’ve been working on A Guide to 7 Days of Soul Care as a self-publishing project. I wrestled with words, ideas, and fear for almost a year. An editor friend has it now. I hope/pray we are near the end after I make changes based on her feedback.
What Mark Batterson wrote on Day 27
He wrote about how he had been a frustrated writer with many unfinished manuscripts for 13 years. He got desperate. So he took God’s Word on fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21) to heart and practice, and he fasted from all media for 40 days.
At the end of his forty day fast, Mark had a major breakthrough; he finished his first self-published book! (Ah, this is eerily relevant.)
Mark observed fasting from food is the most obvious kind of fast but he believes “a media fast can be just as powerful,” because it helps us get rid of the “white noise in our lives” so we can better hear God’s voice (151).
Hmm, the idea of a 40 day media fast was not on my radar before I re-read his words. But it is now.
“I’m convinced that one hour of prayer will revolutionize our lives in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.”—Mark Batterson
Mark suggested you pick a start date and a finish date for your fast and what you’re fasting for. (I assumed he used his time away from media to pray and write more.)
(Caveat: Fasting is not a way to get God to give us something not his will for us but it is a biblical practice often combined with prayer for spiritual breakthroughs.)
Dear friend: Please hold me accountable. I will begin my TV, movie, and social media fast on July 1, 2016 and end on August 10, 2016.
I want to hear God’s voice; I want to break away from fear and let God’s love give me the courage to move forward.
I don’t watch much TV but we do watch movies on Netflix as a family. And I use social media sporadically but I do love to catch up with friends when I do.
My one exception will be DM on Twitter as a friend on sabbatical communicates with me via DM.
I may binge a little on media before July 1, 2016.
During his media fast, Mark said his writing became a form of prayer to God.
Subscribers, I hope to check in with you once a week after July 1 to give you updates on my progress. If you don’t want to receive updates, let me know and I won’t send them to you.
If you want to join me on July 1, 2016 with a fast of your own design as you’re led, please contact me so we can be accountability partners (if you’d like).
For Mark, his breakthrough was he finished his first self-published book. My goal is to let go of fear and to trust God with the words I’ve written in a finished book.
“Fasting is the way we break down our spiritual calluses and regain sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.”—Mark Batterson
Have you ever prayed and fasted for something or someone? What was your experience?
How have you received God’s love recently by paying attention?
If you’re joining me on a media fast or any kind of fast on July 1, 2016, please let me know. I’d love a buddy so we can hold each other accountable and we can pray for each other.
Is there someone you want to pray for? A spiritual breakthrough God has been calling you to?
As always, thanks for being here and sharing your thoughts with me. Grateful.
And also linking with wise Holley