Want to experience God in a new way? These 9 meaningful ways to connect with God will help breathe life into your relationship with the Lord.
I’ll never forget the frustration I felt early on in our marriage when it came to reading the Bible with my husband.
Where I’m a learner and reader and a sit-down-for-an-hour-to-journal-er, my husband is an active, hands-on, keep-things-moving kind of guy. Like me he loves God’s Word, but we both connect with God and the Scriptures in very different ways. Early on, I didn’t realize how differently, and it caused a lot of tension between us.
We didn’t understand that there are different ways to connect with God, and we both fell into the trap of silently judging the other person when they didn’t fit our personal mold.
While we might all know that growing in the Lord requires spending time with Him, many of us don’t realize that there are a lot of ways to experience His presence! In fact, over the course of history, Christians have cultivated their personal relationship with God in countless ways.
Gary Thomas has been instrumental in my understanding of this, and as we explore connection this summer, I’ve used his book as a jumping off point for generating all kinds of ideas of how we can connect with God and deepen our intimacy with Him.
God didn’t create us all to worship Him in the exact same way.
As Christians, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to draw near to God. Just like God has created us with different personalities, we also have different spiritual temperaments. Have you ever thought about that or discovered what yours is?
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In his book, Sacred Pathways, pastor and author Gary Thomas shares 9 different spiritual temperaments — or sacred pathways — people have. These are the ways that we connect best with God.
Which one (or few) do you most recognize in yourself?
9 Meaningful Ways to Connect with God
1. Naturalists: Loving God out of Doors
Naturalists feel closest to God when they’re surrounded by God’s creation. The mountains, the forests, or the water awaken something in them that nothing else does. Naturalists often learn their best lessons in the out-of-doors. In particular, being outdoors helps them visualize scriptural truths, see God more clearly, and learn to rest.
2. Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
Sensates are awed by the presence of beauty and feel closest to God when they can see, smell, hear, or almost even taste His majesty. Where naturalists are drawn to awe, beauty, and splendor outdoors, senates are drawn to expressions of awe and beauty. For example, things like incense, elaborate architecture, classical music, and formal language move their heart deeply.
3. Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbol
Traditionalists have a need for ritual and structure in their worship. Corporate worship, including rituals, symbols, sacraments, and sacrifice are essential in their life of faith. In practice, this might look like following a personal rule (or habit) of prayer, following and celebrating the liturgical calendar, using symbols as reminders of faith, and engaging in regular, specific personal sacrifice. While other spiritual temperaments might see these as lifeless rituals, the traditionalist finds these practices to be life-altering experiences.
4. Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
Ascetics gravitate toward solitude, austerity, simplicity, and deep commitment. They find that discipline (for the sake of drawing near to God), severity, and solitude awaken their souls to the presence of God, and they feel closest to God when they’re alone with nothing to distract them from focusing on God’s presence.Th Ascetics’ self-denial doesn’t stem from being a martyr or to punish oneself, but rather as a means or way to love God more.
5. Activists: Loving God through Confrontation
The Activists feel closest to God when they are standing against injustice. In fact, many activists define worship as standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance. As they face injustice, they feel like they are working in cooperation and partnership with God. Activists readily engage in confrontation and challenge for the sake of truth, justice, and what they believe to be right.
6. Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
Caregivers love God and feel most connected to Him when loving and serving others. They are especially drawn to the poor, the needy, and the sick and are usually the first ones to bring a meal, give a ride, or volunteer to help in other ways. Caregivers are doers, jumping in to meet needs. They don’t simply talk or sing about their love for God, they demonstrate it every day.
7. Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
Enthusiasts tend to be the cheerleaders of the faith. You’ll find enthusiasts shouting amen, dancing in the aisles, and worshipping God with joyful celebration. They experience God’s power and presence best when their hearts are moved and they feel His presence.
8. Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration
Contemplatives adore God. They set their gaze on Him and seek to be present in His presence. Contemplatives feel closest to God when their emotions are awakened and they sense God touching their heart and speaking words of love and affection to them. While they may serve God and do things on His behalf, their focus is on seeking to love God with a pure and deep love. Contemplatives would rather be alone with God than sitting through a formal liturgy or taking a walk outside.
9. Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind
Intellectuals live in the world of concepts and ideas. They need to know what they believe, and they push churches to define and maintain proper doctrine. You’re likely to find them studying (or debating) doctrine and theology. Intellectuals feel closest to God when they learn something knew about Him that they didn’t understand before or when given time to study God’s Word or other theological books.
How do you connect with God?
While I could relate more closely with a few of these spiritual temperaments, I was surprised to see elements of all of them in my life. I found the Sacred Pathways book fascinating and deeply moving. This blog post doesn’t even come close to doing justice to each of the types. I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy and read through it slowly and prayerfully.
Not only do we all have much to learn from one another, but I felt relieved reading through the different spiritual temperaments. In a culture that is quick to compare, it’s easy to get down on ourselves because we’re not like so-and-so. While we can all learn from each other, what a relief it was to know God has made us unique — even in our spiritual makeup!
Do you know what your spiritual pathway is? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!