Written by Nick Diliberto
Over the last couple of years I’ve experimented with various ways of connecting with God.
In particular, I’ve developed two habits that have been instrumental in deepening my relationship with Jesus.
Although they’re somewhat unusual, I wanted to share them with you in hopes that they’ll be helpful to you in some way. You might want to try your own variation of them.
But first, I actually prefer to use the word rhythm rather than habit.
A habit is something you do daily. Most of the time you beat yourself up if you miss a day. It’s a rigid exercise with little to no flexibility.
A rhythm is a way of life. An intention for the day. It’s flexible. Some days you don’t do it. Some days you do it at a slightly different time or in a slightly different way.
The 2 rhythms I am about to share are woven into the fabric of my life.
Ok, so let’s dive in.
NIGHT TIME RHYTHM
My night time rhythm is something I’ve been doing only for a few months.
I do it right before bed – the last 15-20 minutes of the day.
I first make some Yogi Caramel Bedtime tea.
I found out about it from author Tim Ferriss while reading one of his books, Tools of Titans.
The ritual of making and drinking the tea puts my mind at ease rather quickly.
It helps me calm down, gets me in the present moment, and helps me focus on the presence of God.
I usually go outside on my front porch, unless it’s really cold or hot. I love the outdoors, so it’s a great way to connect with the outside world for a few minutes. It also gets me away from anything that’s going on inside my house. Being married with 3 teenagers can sometimes get noisy around bedtime.
During certain parts of the year, I hear the sounds of frogs and crickets. Lots of them. These noises have a meditative effect that helps me focus and get in the right frame of mind.
When I don’t have those soothing noises around me, I do something else. I look out at the trees in my front yard or up at the sky. I just notice what I see.
The last few days it’s been really cold, and in the summer it is really hot. When this happens, I either just suck it up or find a quiet place in the house where I can be alone without any distractions.
I enter the present moment and simply breathe deeply for a minute or two.
As I breathe, I ask God to show himself to me.
Next, I mentally review my day. Recalling all the events of the day, I simply visualize all the highlights. I thank God for the moments I am grateful for. I surrender to him the things that fill me with anxiety, fear, uncertainty, etc. I notice times that I reacted to others poorly, asking God for forgiveness and strength to act differently next time. I’ll sometimes write these thoughts in bullet point form in a journal.
This process usually takes me 10-15 minutes, and it’s a great way to end the day.
Furthermore, the Yogi Bedtime Tea has an ingredient in it that makes you sleepy. So, by the time I’m finish the tea, I’m ready for bed. And I usually have a better night’s sleep.
Having a moment to dial down, pause, reflect, and connect with God at the end my day has deepened my relationship with God. It’s opened my eyes to blindspots in my life that I wouldn’t otherwise recognize. It’s benefited my life in numerous other ways.
I would highly recommend trying out your own version of this nightly rhythm.
I usually wake up between 6:15-6:45am. After I get some clothes on and brush my teeth, I take my supplements for the day and make some coffee.
After that, I begin my morning routine.
The first thing I do is read. I usually read something spiritual and something inspirational. Lately, I am reading The Book of John for Everyone by N.T. Wright (something spiritual). I am also reading Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferriss (something inspirational). I sometimes read a little of both the same morning, or alternate what I read every other day.
In my mind, reading is the best way to start any day. It helps get your mind focused on God. On ways to improve your life. On what’s good in the world rather than what’s wrong.
I do this for 20-45 minutes depending on when I wake up.
Then, I take my son to school.
On the way home is a place called Sunset Point, on the lakefront:
There are two piers at Sunset Point. The one you see above is the bigger one, with a smaller one a few hundred yards in the opposite direction.
I usually walk out on both piers and enjoy the view. It’s my favorite place to do the second half of my morning routine.
Here’s a view from the smaller pier that I took this morning:
I do often skip the lakefront and simply walk around my neighborhood instead.
When it gets really cold, like it is right now, I will either dress really warm or find a quiet place in the house with a lot of windows. When I was in full-time ministry, I would find an empty room in the church away from everyone else.
Regardless of where I am, here’s what I do:
I focus on my breathing for a few minutes. As I take a long breath in I say to myself, “Jesus”. Then as I release the breath, I say to myself “Almighty God”. I do it again, but this time it’s “Jesus” & “Creator of Everything”. Then, “Jesus” and “King of Kings”. Then, “Jesus” and “Prince of Peace”.
I do a round of 4 breaths like this a few times.
I then simply pay attention to whatever is in front of me at that moment. Maybe it’s the leaves on the ground. The chill in the air. A bird singing nearby. Or a squirrel in a tree. If I’m inside, I just look around at whatever is in the room.
Now, I know for many of you this probably seems a bit strange. A bit to woo-woo for you. And if so, I get it. I understand. And it might not be for you.
But, here’s what it does for me.
After I do this, I’m relaxed and calm. I can feel the stress begin to melt away. My mind isn’t thinking about a problem to solve or what’s on the to-do list for the day. I’m focused on God, the present moment, and the real presence of God right then and there.
I’ll spend the rest of the time in prayer. Praying whatever comes to mind. Thanking God for the good stuff. Asking him to show me how I can grow from the problems I face. Asking him to guide me that day. So on and so on. I think you get the idea.
Lastly, I enjoy the rest of the walk. During this time, I give myself some quiet headspace. I don’t think about anything in particular. Sometimes God speaks. Sometimes I feel led to do something or say something to someone that day. I’ve discovered the more I slow down, the more I align myself with God. The more I hear his voice. The more I see the path he has for me.
Then, I go inside the house and start my day.
If I’m inside due to bad weather conditions, I’ll just sit there for a few minutes, giving myself some headspace. Not immediately starting my first task for the day. I just take my time and enjoy a few moments of quiet.
So, there you have it. My two unusual ways to connect with God.
I hope you found them helpful. Maybe you read something that you might try.
It took me awhile to find out what works for me.
Here are some of my thoughts if you’re looking to create or modify a rhythm of your own:
1. It’s not one-size-fits-all.
A lot of the times reading the Bible, singing worship songs, and praying are the only ways we are taught to nurture our relationship with God. I think God is bigger than that. There are infinite ways to connected with God. Everyone is different and everyone has different ways to connect with God. The key is to find out what works for you and do that.
2. Try something new.
We can get stuck in a rut. Doing the same things over and over. I encourage you to try something new. Take a few moments and think of some new ways to connect with God. What inspires you? What feeds your soul?
3. Experiment with a morning and nighttime routine of your own.
The beginning and end of the day are awesome opportunities to have a touching point with God. You set your day up for success and end your day in reflection.
I highly recommend creating your own rhythm during those times.
Well, there you have it.
I hope this was helpful.
What out of the ordinary routine, ritual, or habit to connect with God works for you?
Leave a comment below.
We would all love to learn from you.
Written by Nick Diliberto, creator of Ministry to Youth