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Use Your Senses to Encounter God

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2001 4 Jan
Use Your Senses to Encounter God
The softness of an animal's fur. The harmonic music of an orchestra. The fragrance of your favorite flower. The vision of a multicolored sunset. The taste of freshly baked bread. You've likely enjoyed these experiences, thanks to the senses God has given you. And if you seek the Creator of all you can touch, hear, smell, see, and taste, you can encounter not just God's creation, but God Himself.

Here are some ways you can draw closer to God by using your senses to encounter Him:

  • Study your hands and consider all you use them for in your daily life. Ask God to show you how He would like you to use your hands to put your faith into action - perhaps by serving others. Partner with a friend or family member to hold hands and/or anoint each other's hands with oil. Then talk about how a loving touch broke down barriers between you.

  • Feel a nail's sharp point and think about the pain Christ suffered when He was nailed to a cross. Imagine nails tearing into Christ's flesh, and consider the depth of love He had to endure His suffering to save the world. Thank Him for what He has done for you. Pray for a greater compassion for others who are experiencing pain today - physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

  • Allocate some time just to focus on listening to God. Eliminate all distractions, even for just a few minutes, and silently pray for Him to speak to you on whatever topic you'd like. Then be alert to any thoughts the Holy Spirit might bring to mind. If you believe you've heard something, write it down. Then check it against God's Word and pray for confirmation of its accuracy.

  • Think about how you've heard God in the past - perhaps through circumstances, an inner conviction, or a conversation with another person who is close to Him. Invite God to speak to you about all areas of your life, especially those in which His guidance may prove uncomfortable. Open yourself up to what He has to say. Listen for His voice during ordinary moments as well as dramatic ones, remembering that He is always with you.

  • Worship God through music, by either singing or dancing to express praise to Him. Afterward, think about how the experience heightened your awareness of God's presence.

  • Light a scented candle or an incense stick and pray as the fragrance fills the room. Consider how the fragrance wafting through the air helps you sense God's vast power, which reaches everywhere.

  • Ask God how you can make your life an offering to Him - an offering with a pleasing aroma, as the Bible describes some offerings. Think about what would make your life smell good to God and what would give it a distasteful odor.

  • Get out in nature and observe some of what God has created. Choose a few items - such as a tree, a rock, and a cloud - and consider what each one reveals about God's goodness.

  • Study a painting or sculpture of Christ. Ask yourself what that particular representation of Him says to you. For example, gentle eyes might speak of His love, and muscular arms might speak of His strength.

  • Ask God to give you a vision of how He sees you and how He would like you to live your life for Him. Pray for Him to open your eyes to His work in your life right now.

  • Celebrate communion. As you eat the bread, think about Jesus is the bread of life. As you drink the wine or grape juice, consider how Jesus is the true vine and how He promised that whoever believes in Him will never be spiritually thirsty.

  • Enjoy a meal with friends or family. Serve foods you particularly enjoy, and talk about why you like them. Discuss what taste you would use to describe an aspect of God's character, such as the sweetness of His love or the tartness of His wisdom. Consider how God nourishes you spiritually just as the food He has created nourishes you physically

Adapted from A Sensual Faith: Experiencing God Through Our Senses by Ian Price, copyright 2000 by MediaCom Education, Inc. Published by Wood Lake Books, Inc., Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, www.joinhands.com.

Rev. Ian Price is a minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. In addition to serving three parishes, he has served as chaplain to a theological college where he taught liturgy and worship.

Which of your senses - touching, hearing, smelling, seeing, or tasting - do you enjoy the most, and why? How have you used your senses to encounter God? How did one of those experiences draw you closer to Him? Visit the Books Forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.

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