Note: This is one of a series of 8 workshops called Foundations For Connecting With God. (Click here to see the full series overview)
Jan 11, 10-11:30am US Central Time (Chicago Time)
This interactive online workshop is one in our series of 8 workshops called Foundations For Connecting With God which explore key elements/foundations that seem to help people more easily perceive and interact with God’s presence. This workshop will combine a mixture of conversation, teaching, and experiential learning. All exercises are optional. Please see additional reading and information about this workshop below.
2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
John 11:1-44. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
Pre Workshop Reading:
Note this reading is not required but it will add additional benefit to the workshop experience.
Patience, as one of our foundations for connecting with God, involves the freedom to move at God’s pace and to focus on God’s priorities. Patience also involves the freedom from needing to do anything according to any timeline, other than God’s, and freedom from needing to focus on anything other than what God wants us to focus on in this moment. Patience is an important foundation to have in place when we are wanting to get a stronger sense of God’s presence and guidance, because it helps us not to miss what God is wanting us to notice. When the foundation of patience is adequately in place, we are able to relax and allow our attention to broaden or narrow, or shift as we allow it to be guided by God’s spirit. This allows us to more easily recognize God’s presence and activity and to more easily carry out the work God has for us in the moment. When the foundation of patience is not adequately present, our brains tend to get locked onto whatever problem we think must be solved and our attention becomes rigid and inflexible. This can make it quite difficult to recognize God’s presence, or what/who it is God thinks is really important to pay attention to in any given moment.
It seems that our brains can tag certain decisions, tasks, goals, or visions with a sense of urgency. Sometimes we can actually name the time the activity needs to be completed, such as a student who has an assignment due by the end of the day. However, more often, it seems that we can’t quite put our finger on when something needs to be accomplished or why, but we just have a feeling that we need to hurry and get it done. I often experience this related to work I am very passionate about, such as the Immanuel Prayer training materials and workshops I prepare. Even with this Foundations workshop series. I have noticed a regular sense of urgency that I need to get it done quickly, though I can’t exactly identify why, other than a vague sense that the world is falling apart, and I need to get this helpful material out there before it does.
There can probably be a healthy side to this feeling of urgency in our brain, especially when it is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. Often I think God’s Spirit gives us a little nudge to do such and such, but the Spirit’s nudges generally (though not always) seem to be fairly gentle, and they do not seem to come with a feeling of dread or impending doom. On the other hand, there is a problematic side to this feeling of urgency when our brain takes on a sense of pressure/urgency that is not from God. In my experience, the things that get tagged as urgent based on timelines that are not in line with God’s, tend to come with a sense of dread or impending doom that causes our attention to lock onto the problem with a rigid, inflexible tenacity. My urgency about preparing these Immanuel trainings is I think inspired by the spirit, but then my brain adds an extra level of urgency based on my own triggers regarding needing to make the world a safer place. This additional urgency comes more with a subtle sense of impending doom that I don’t believe is from God. I have been steadily working to resolve these triggers with moderate improvement, but still find they interfere with my ability to move at God’s pace and according to God’s priorities.
This is quite obvious on those days when I bring work home and keep trying to mentally work on training material. God repeatedly has made it clear that family is the priority.
Whenever my/our brain’s fall out of sync with God’s pace and priorities and get in a rush to solve a problem, we tend to either hyper focus on the problem, or get overwhelmed and attempt to completely avoid the problem. In either case, we usually lose track of other important people and things that God wants us to pay attention to (including God). I notice this problem particularly with what feels like important life decisions. As we consider a career change, a major move, whether to get married, etc., we often start to get a sense of urgency that we must make the decision soon. This is combined with a sense of fear, that we do not have enough information yet to make a good decision. This results in a sense of dread which is the combination of fear and hopeless despair. Fear that we will not make the right choice in time, and hopelessness because we do not feel adequately informed to make the right choice. This messy scenario is a very common place where we lose the foundation of patience.
Patience, as I said before, involves a freedom from needing to accomplish something by a certain time frame. So, what helps us restore the foundation of patience when it has been lost, and what helps us maintain it for longer periods of time? The previous four foundations we have discussed of joy, rest, love, and peace are all very helpful for restoring and maintaining the foundation of patience. I will focus particularly on the importance of the foundation of rest which has to do with the freedom to disengage when things are too intense. I have found Mary Geegh is a great example of a person who helped people re-establish these foundations, particularly the foundation of rest. Mary was a missionary in India who wrote a little booklet called God Guides. She often had people come to her with various complicated problems. She would listen intently to their concerns and genuinely express care for them (note the presence of joy and love). Then she would say to the person, “Please come with me to my prayer room and we will listen to the Lord together.” She would sit down with the person in her simple prayer room and they would be still and quiet and listen together (note the presence of rest). After a time of stillness, they would reflect together about what they heard God say. Her booklet God Guides, is a series of amazing little stories of the profound solutions God gave people as they listened in stillness.
What promotes patience?
Restoring patience when it has been lost:
Building on the thoughts above, here are three big things that can really help us to re-establish the foundation of patience.
- Joy/Love: Having someone with us who really sees and cares about how big the concern/problem/danger feels to us (this can be a person or God).
- Rest: Being able to truly disengage from trying to solve the problem, and get still and listen to what God wants to say to us.
- Trust: Having someone by our side who is capable and willing to handle the problem for us/with us (can be a person or God).
- Being capable: Finding a way to navigate the challenge that really feels satisfying
- Understanding: Learning new information that helps us see that the concern/problem/danger is actually smaller than the help/abilities/companions available to deal with it.
The best way to keep the foundation of patience in place is to stay connected to a being who is bigger than any problem, and who can take absolutely everything into account and determine exactly what the most important things for us to do/pay attention to are, and exactly when the best times to do them are. If we cannot do this, the next best option is to stay connected to a person/people who are connected to God, or who are able to handle the problem together with us. On a personal level taking regular time to disengage and rest is very helpful. Prayer, time in nature, journaling, playing, scripture, exercise, and self care are all very helpful ways to disengage from solving problems and promote more rest in our lives.
What impedes patience?:
Patience seems to become difficult when our brain starts to predict an unwanted outcome if we don’t figure out or take care of the concern at hand in time. How terrible and how near we are to the feared outcome, and how confident or unconfident we are that God or others can help us, all seem to contribute to how difficult it is to stay patient and in tune with God’s pace and priorities.
Patience in corporate gatherings:
What does it mean to move at God’s pace in our corporate worship gatherings? This is probably a really good question to discern together with God and others in your community, both when planning worship and, perhaps, during the worship service itself. Much of the time it is probably fitting to flow with the service as scheduled, trusting God to use the various elements of the service to bless people and engage with people. However, there are other times when it is important to change something in the service because it is either moving faster than God’s pace, or focusing on something other than what God wants the community to be focusing on in a given moment. In our church service, there is a sharing time at the end of the service lead by a mature person who shepherds the time. During this time people can share reflections, prayer requests, important personal updates, etc. One day a young person shared that she was having a baby out of wedlock and was somewhat embarrassed as she shared. The pastor was shepherding the sharing that day and after she shared, he stopped everything and said, “Thanks for sharing, and I want to make sure you know that babies are always welcome here.” Though simple and brief, the pastor was able to stop and really name what needed to be said. Had he been impatient or rushed that morning, a very important message of love could easily never have been delivered.
Worship is another area where moving at God’s pace is important. There are times in more contemporary worship settings where worship leaders get a sense that many people are deeply connecting with God’s spirit and being ministered to during the music, and they decide to continue playing longer than planned. When inspired by the spirit, this can be a tremendously helpful choice in terms of creating space for God’s presence and activity during the service.
If it is not lead by the spirit, but instead by some other motivation, then it is likely not going to be as helpful. The same can be said of pastors who suddenly find they are speaking about something that God is wanting to say directly to people in the church. It is often appropriate to take extra time to say everything God is wanting them to say. If on the other hand, motivations other than God are behind the lengthened sermon, it may not be as helpful to people’s connection with God.
Patience small group settings:
Small group settings tend to involve more social interaction and to be more flexible and adaptable than a large corporate worship gathering. As such, it can be easier to speed up and slow down to match God’s pace in the moment. It is important to keep in mind that God’s pace is very person-centered, and God often wants us to slow down in order to more deeply see and hear one another. I love small group settings with a combination of open space to eat meals or snacks together, and mingle along with some structured time for prayer, discussion, etc. as these provide open space for connecting. I also like groups with sharing and discussion, but find that often the group gets bogged down on a particular topic or point of controversy and the energy in the room starts to die. In these cases, I think God actually often wants to speed us up to get to other important topics. I find that stopping the whole group for just a minute or two to be still and listen to the Lord together about what God wants to share with each person, and then sharing what comes, tends to provide a tremendous reset, and speed the group back up to include all the things God is wanting to release.
Patience in prayer ministry settings:
Prayer ministry is an extremely important setting to stay in touch with God’s pace and priorities. For those familiar with the Immanuel Approach and other forms of inner healing prayer, you probably know that one common reason people do prayer ministry work is to heal unresolved negative memories. However, as I have been facilitating Immanuel Prayer ministry sessions over the last 12 plus years, I have realized that healing memories is just one of God’s priorities, and it can be delicate work that is best done at God’s pace. Early on in my work facilitating prayer for emotional healing, I often made the mistake of rushing people toward dealing with painful memories too quickly. Thankfully, God was gracious and usually it worked out okay, but sometimes I can look back and see that God was often trying to work on other more foundational priorities such as building trust in him, practicing joy and rest with the person, getting their life more stable, and establishing a friendship with them rather than driving right toward work on negative memories. If working on painful memories is farther back on God’s to do list than other things, I don’t want to interfere and rush the person towards memory work too quickly. Maintaining the foundation of patience is therefore very helpful for collaborating with God’s long term plans for each of our journeys of growth and healing.
- Everything is optional: to promote a sense of safety all exercises are optional and voluntary.
- Respect confidentiality: unless someone is in danger of harm we ask group members to hold personal sharing by others confidential.
- Lean in lean out: If you tend to talk a lot, try to hold space for those who are more quiet, and if you tend to be more quiet you may try to share a little more.
- Please be caring: People tend to do really well with this one.
Facilitator: Andy Ross
Format: 90 minute one time workshops combining both full group teaching and debrief and smaller break out groups of 3 or 4 people for practice times.
Participants can register for one, multiple, or all sessions.
Cost: Free/Suggested $15 voluntary donation per workshop. Please feel no obligation to give but if you would like to make a contribution your gifts are helpful for freeing up our time to do these free workshops, create training material, and subsidize training groups for those who can’t afford the normal rates. You will see an option to make a gift when you register or you can always access the donate page.
Prerequisites: No previous experience needed. Please invite your friends.
Footnotes and Further Resources:
God Guides by Mary Geegh https://god-guides.com/product/god-guides/