Creating moments in our lives to engage in and enjoy our relationships with God is beneficial and necessary.

Slowing Down, Being Close: How A Day With God Restores Your Soul


What could it look like to spend a day with the God of the universe? For some this feels exciting and freeing, a beckoning toward our spiritual anchor, where we’re known and experience intimacy with the Lord. But for others, an invitation to slow down and come close to God could sound intimidating.

Regular rhythms, like spending time with Him, can help us to enjoy God’s presence and receive the spiritual sustenance He freely gives us.

But in our desires to hold space for Him, a tension hovers. It’s the struggle of fighting through the responsibilities of life and the sneaky, attractive pull of busyness. The temptation to disengage from God can easily invade our lives as a result, stifling our desires and blocking our way to experiencing wholeness with the Lord.

How do we navigate all of this? Writer Cole Arthur Riley provides a refreshing perspective about our relationships with God, how we view busyness and our need for rest. From a post on her Black Liturgies Instagram account, she writes, “What if God doesn’t always want to use you? What if sometimes God simply wants to be with you?”

Sometimes we can unintentionally substitute being used by God to minister and help others as a form of relational intimacy with Him. God doesn’t want the works of our hands; He seeks our hearts, as Deuteronomy 6:4-7 illustrates.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Having regular time away with God is a spiritual rhythm our bodies need because we were made to enjoy and connect with Him. For some of us, this could be taking a full day to spend with the Lord. For others, it might be half a day or a couple of hours.

Sandhya Oaks — a narrative trauma care coach who also serves as a staff care resource specialist with Cru® in Fort Collins, Colorado — says regular times with God can help us discover who we truly are in the context of rest. As a care coach, Sandhya helps lead others to healing through a discipleship context. She listens with intentionality, asks questions with kindness, and points people to an invitation from Jesus.

“It’s all about Sabbath. It’s all about a disruption of our normal week, not just time off,” she says. “Even recreation is re-creating, coming back to ourselves, who we were made to be. When we spend time with the Lord we take His invitation to come and rest, to just be with Him.”

“The word invitation keeps coming up. All I can think about is: Have we allowed ourselves, have you allowed yourself, to become so full and busy that you’ve lost the voice of God, missed the invitation to sit with Him, or lean on Him?”

Sandhya Oaks

Sandhya says she believes these moments of rest with God give Christians “a taste of heaven.” She sees it as a holy disruption that calls us back to needing rest and care and for God to attend to us.

Rhythms that restore my soul

I’ve learned over time how to pursue time with God in a way that fits my personality and lifestyle. Personal retreats at favorite places in my city of Orlando and listening to encouraging playlists on Spotify help me enjoy these moments. Through walks where I pray and when I work in my garden, I can invite Him to cultivate the soil of my heart and help me deepen my spiritual life. These rhythms provide a reset button that invigorates my mind and speaks peace to my worries.

Scheduling these times helps me make them a priority. I like setting aside a Monday or Friday, as these days are bookends to the week and can help me process what I’m preparing to do or release some things that were hard and painful.

But what if you’re stuck with what to do once the date is on the calendar? It’s essential to remember we’re not meant to journey through life without one another. To demonstrate the variety of ways we can spend time with God, I spoke with several people who are growing in this area. They’ve learned helpful things about themselves, including challenges they’ve faced, and what they enjoy during their times with the Lord. Here are some of their experiences.

Consistency is key

Sharon Cooper is a married mother of three adult children who serves in Orlando, Florida, with The Impact Movement®, discipling college students of African descent. She says one way she gets past the tension of pursuing time with God is with consistency. Sharon recognizes that for some, it may not be easy to have these times, especially if you don’t feel like you’ve experienced God in a powerful way when you have tried in the past.

“It happens over time,” she says. “You don’t do anything without time. The best thing to do is to decide, ‘I’m going to have a time with the Lord.’ Consistently do this and as you do it, the more you are comfortable and you’re growing. Keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it. Find what you want to study and how you want to study. Find what God has for you and walk in that.”

During her times with God, Sharon enjoys walking and praying, sitting in quietness at Leu Gardens (a local botanical garden), and reading biographies about Christian leaders, such as John and Vera Mae Perkins of the Voice of Calvary Ministries. She says learning about their relationships with God and what God is doing in their lives encourages her.

Experiencing the “With-ness” of God

Sandhya Oaks recognizes that when it’s hard to attune to God, we can lose connection to the power source in Him that we need daily so that we may accomplish what He’s made us for. “Apart from God, we can do nothing,” she says. “I think about the things we have, whether that’s engaging our trauma, engaging a season of grief and loss, or holding a season of extra meetings and responsibilities: How can we do those things apart from Him?” Sandhya says that in seasons that stretch us, we should examine our need for the Lord, looking specifically for where we need God to show up and identifying how we need Him.

“If it’s a really busy season, where do you need God in this season, where do you feel that it’s too much?” she says. Asking God to come with us in these moments, to be with us in the grief and trauma can be a turning point, she feels. “When we practice the ‘with-ness’ of God it helps to transform our sight, our perception in the experience we’re going through. It’s a powerful thing for our souls, a powerful thing for soul care.”

Some things are essential

Queante Bowman, a wellness sales representative who lives in Los Angeles, California, says nature reminds him of God’s closeness no matter where he is.

“Santa Monica has both the beach and the mountains,” he says. “The water, the way the waves come in is almost like a cleansing — let it come in and go out.”

Listening to music and enjoying sunsets with his Bible or tablet is typically part of how Queante engages in his times alone with God. As he reads, he says just one word or one Scripture verse amidst the chapter he’s observing can make him stop and reflect on how God is speaking to him.

He also experiences intimacy with God through interactions with other people.

“I love meeting people,” he says. “Being open to conversation can often lead to sharing.” After such encounters, Queante says he takes a moment to jot down things that stood out to him and notices how God uses the interactions to give him new perspective.

Queante says living through the COVID-19 pandemic reminds him of what’s essential. “Sometimes it’s those pain points that help me recognize ‘I know you have a ton of stuff to do; it’s essential to pull away.’ There have been times where I’ve been toiling away and nothing gets done. Then I’ll go and spend time with the Lord and a shortcut will come. Those affirmations from God encourage me.”

“If He made the language, He can communicate with you”

Dakota and Heidi Tiger, a married couple and parents of two small children, pursue times with God in their city of Rochester, New York. Dakota serves with Hands of Fire, the deaf ministry of Cru at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. Heidi works as a full-time mom and serves as the local interpreting coordinator for RIT. They both are members of the Deaf community.

During an interview with Dakota and Heidi on Zoom interpreted by Jenna BúPerry, Cru’s staff interpreting coordinator, Dakota shared that he reads books and devotionals during his time with God, which help him think deeply. He also watches an American Sign Language (ASL) Bible. Dakota says seeing the two versions of the ASL Bible — the CBT and the ASLV — signed makes the truth they convey much clearer to him.

Heidi says being creative through painting, crafting and making collages gives her rest when she spends time with God.

“If I don’t have kids around in the moment and if I have some free time, I like to make birthday cards to family and think about them as I make them,” she says. She prays for the recipients of the cards and also prays for herself in those moments.

The Tigers shared that the Deaf community is not monolithic; people express themselves and experience God in unique ways that bring forth diversity.

“The most common misunderstanding about the Deaf community would be that just because we can’t speak orally in English or hear audibly that God doesn’t speak to us or that we can’t hear from him. It’s not audible, but God is Spirit and His language matches any culture. And so He can interact with anyone.”

Dakota Tiger

In the Bible, we see that Jesus connected with those who were deaf, to engage their hearts as He also met their needs. Dakota says the example of Jesus and the deaf man, who the Lord most likely communicated with through signs, helps us see this more.

“If Jesus could interact with a deaf person in sign language, I think how much more today would He interact with a person who uses sign language,” Dakota says. “I think God is amazing at creating all these different languages, and if He made the language, He can communicate with you.”

Finding what is best for you

If you decide to set aside a full day with God, welcome it like a visit with a close friend. Time with God is not about checking off a task on a list; it’s about enjoying the presence of the Creator.

He’s your friend and confidant. Create a day with Him that provides room for enjoying His creation, experiencing His rest, engaging in the activities that are most life-giving for you, and having some good meals too. Let the day flow naturally and be open to how He wants to guide you and meet with you during the time.

Ideas For Spending Time With God

You’ve decided to use a full day, an afternoon or maybe a couple of hours early one morning to spend time with the Lord. How do you want to experience that time and connect with God? Consider these ideas below:

Taking your personality into consideration: How one person experiences and enjoys time with God can be very different from someone else. Check out this quiz that shows how your personality plays a role in the ways you best connect with the Lord.

Finding out how to spend a whole day with God: It could feel intimidating at first to wonder how to spend a whole day with the Lord, but with guidance from this video, you’ll begin to see the beautiful invitation waiting for you through the experience.

Reading and meditating on God’s Word: Sharon Cooper says that when she served at Jackson State University in her early years of ministry, her dear friend and colleague Gladys Hillman would encourage her. Gladys is a Cru staff member who has served at the Atlanta University Center for more than 30 years. Sharon remembers Gladys saying, “Being in the presence of the Word is power itself. Even when you don’t feel like you’re learning or get a big inspiration, the Word is flowing over you.” Use your time with the Lord to hear more about His heart for you and this world by reading the Bible and meditating on the truth.

Incorporating your hobbies into your relationship with God: There’s goodness in connecting some of the hobbies you enjoy with your spiritual growth. What are hobbies you love that encourage you to slow down and be more meditative that you could do while spending time with God as you thank Him for the creativity and energy to engage in them?

Bible journaling: Some people enjoy writing out verses of Scripture as a way to connect with the Lord. Others use their artistic gifts to design verses in colorful ways, in their Bibles or their journals, helping them encounter God’s Word and freshly remember His truths.

Praying and fasting: Prayer gives us the pause we need to slow down and communicate with the Lord. Fasting helps us center our prayers and creates greater dependency upon the Lord as we abstain from an area of our lives to draw closer to Him. Fasting can focus on food, but if you have dietary restrictions, other areas in your life can be fasted from as well, such as TV, online streaming media, social media or heavy use of mobile devices. You can also ask God to show you an area to fast from that would be helpful for you.

Resting and reading: Resting in the Lord is a blessing, as time is made to be at ease. Reading a book that helps you grow closer to the Lord and matures you spiritually as you rest could be a great experience during your time with Him.

If you have an afternoon available, focus your time on one or two activities. Maybe listen to an audiobook, go for a hike or cook one of your favorite meals and then read through your journal while you eat. Look for God’s faithfulness in your life as you review answers to prayers in your writing.

If your time is limited and you only have a couple of hours available, use the time to pray and intercede for others, engage in a creative task, or listen to a sermon message that’s a favorite of yours.

Whatever you choose to do, God is ready to spend time with you.

Fresh Ideas

If you’ve felt unmotivated in your spiritual life, find out how to escape the rut.

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Invitation to Intimacy

Prayer provides us with a way to come home to God and deepen our relationship with Him.

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Melody Copenny
Words by

Melody Copenny

Melody serves as editor-in-chief for Cru Storylines™ and a journalist with Cru®. She’s an Atlanta, Georgia, native and University of Georgia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism. She enjoys the intersection of creativity, theology and popular culture in her writing projects.

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