Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Life Model Works Annual Gathering. At this conference they released a new “booklet” by authors Jim Wilder, Anna Kang, John Loppnow and Sungshim Loppnow called Joyful Journey Listening to Immanuel.
Right off the bat, they had everyone engaging in a conversational prayer journaling “layout” that took the pressure out of “trying to hear from God”. It’s like a template for your quiet times that will enable you to build and strengthen your relationship with God.
Over the years I have seen, heard and practiced many different techniques for engaging in a relationship with the Lord. I’ve learned to connect and I’ve been strengthened by my relationship with Jesus in more ways than I can count.
But when it comes to “hearing from God”, I would say that I went through phases of prayer times where I felt like He was silent… and other phases where I really didn’t pause long enough to hear if He was speaking or not. My prayer journals are full of me pouring my heart out to God almost like David in the Psalms, but my “Responses” from God were only in about half of it.
As they explain in Joyful Journey, the beginning place of building and strengthening a relationship with someone is from a place of appreciation, or gratitude. Everyone from scripture to Oprah to Ann Voskamp (1000gifts) agrees that gratitude, thanksgiving, and/or appreciation is the gateway to a joyful life.
But in Joyful Journey, they take it a step further.
What happens if you tell your best friend what you appreciate about your day, or even what you appreciate about them? Do they sit there silently and then ignore you afterwards? NO! They respond! They might share a story about what they appreciate that is similar or they might thank-you, or they might just smile real big and tell you how awesome that is for you.
This is called interactive gratitude.
Interactive Gratitude is a tool they teach in Joyful Journey to use in your Immanuel journaling.
Step 1: Write down what you are grateful for! Spend some time telling Immanuel what you appreciate about your day, your relationships, or about Him or something He has given you or shown you. It can be even the smallest thing like a flower blooming in spring or as big as an all-out miracle He’s done.
Step 2: Pause and begin writing what you perceive to be His response back to you. Remember that He is a loving God, and a good Father….as you begin writing, use a voice that is directed at you. “My dear child…”
Step 3: Read steps 1 and 2 outloud. Even if you are alone in the room, reading them aloud gives your left brain a chance to receive what you were writing while sharing “minds with God”. Even better, read it to a friend.
If you begin practicing this daily, then you’ll be on your way to discovering the gold of an interactive relationship with God that you can rely on. Trusting God might begin with a step of faith, but it is strengthened by continued and repeated experiences that settle your doubts and put them away for good.
The book continues on with even more steps in the “template” but I’ll let you get the book for yourself. It’s even available as an E-book!
I’ve decided to not only take on this encouragement to have a Daily Interactive Gratitude (DIG) in my own personal journal, but to post it publically on my Facebook so others can see my example.
The more we share with others what we are hearing from God, the more we will get to know Him and let others in on the secret of how wonderful and loving and worthy of gratitude He is! That is a treasure more impressive than all the gold in the world!
So let's go DIG!