Closer to God – 3 ways to explore how God loves us through 1 John 3.1

During prayer dance bites last night we entered into a great conversation about whether we truly recognised that God lavishes his love on us. I just want to take a few moments today to share 3 insights that came out of our discussions. We looked particularly at the scripture reference 1 John 3.1:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

There is so much depth in this verse and so much that we can learn, apply and trust God with. In the whirlwind of life, how deep God loves us often gets lost. Take a moment and think about what the word Lavish could mean, and what it means to you.

God loves us so much it invades it.

God’s love is like an invasion.

How do you like to feel love? Or how do you show love to others? We have a generous God that continually pours out his love to sustain us. But God knows the way to love us that speaks to us the most. If you’ve not heard about the love languages, they are certainly worth looking up (see link at the end). The Love Languages identify the way that you receive love best, this can help you in your various relationships. God loves us in such a way that He doesn’t have to think about how to give us love, He knows. Often we have the decision about whether we choose to receive that love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us.

Consider the image of an invasion happening, when a winning side arrive on the scene to complete the invasion, they consume the area they are aiming for. They take it over completely. That’s the love God has for us. A love that overwhelms, releases the floodgates and crashes into us. God loves us with such a depth it’s overpowering.

There is no argument, God loves us.

This sense of overpowerment causes us to pause and recognise that we are called children of God. Children have an innocence and need to know they are loved, to feel compassion. As God calls us his children, he makes a clear statement that brings no argument.

…that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Think of it like this – God loves us, lavishes on us, because we are children of God. As children of God we need to receive that with an open heart that enables us to stand firm with all God has for us.

We need to brace for impact.

Is your heart really open to all that God has for you? Are you ready to receive it? Chris Tomlins song Impact has a line in it that says:

Brace for the impact

The first time I heard it I did a double take. Why do we need to brace? What are bracing for? As we talked during prayer dance bites it dawned on us all. That how much God loves us is an overwhelming, tidal wave surging, storm crashing impact. By that I mean if we truly receive the words of this verse. Recognising that God loves us lavishly as we are his children, love will invade us with such force that we need to brace for the impact because it will be all consuming.

How can we respond to this?

If you’re a mover and dancer you can explore how God loves us by dancing to the song Impact by Chris Tomlin. Think about these 3 words –

  • Invade
  • Firm
  • Impact

What can these look like in movement? How do these words make you feel when you think about the depth that God loves us?

This video highlights what was shared during our Prayer Dance Bite session as well as some further thoughts and movement from me.

Further information

You can find out about the Five Love Languages here.

Not sure what Prayer Dance Bites is but would like to know more? Head here. Would you like to be part of the UC Grace journey? Then head here to sign up and be kept in the loop with what we are doing.

Lets brace for the impact of Gods love.

Closer to God – Encountering God through prayer and movement

Following on from my blog post How can I start to Prayer Dance, I wanted to take the time to be more specific about ways that you can begin moving and encountering God through prayer and movement. What’s important to remember is that all movement day to day can be a part of your prayers. It’s the intention that’s behind the movement when you do it.

I want to break it down into 3 easy movements for you to explore at your own pace – stand, sit or kneel and lie down. Each of these are postures that can be made before God, during your worship and prayer time. The reason these movements work well is because it encourages a 3-dimensional view of your prayer. Looking forward, behind, around you and up above, it changes your perspective to what you are praying for.

Let me break it down a bit –

Standing and praying to God.

Standing

Standing itself is an action, think about all the different ways you can stand and whether they are always static. For example, we very rarely stand completely still. Often, we are swaying slightly, shifting from foot to foot or walking/ moving forward.

The intention behind a standing prayer is the decision to look forward to what is to come. Accepting what’s happened behind and choosing to seek God with the future or ways to move forward. It’s noticing what happened before to get you to where you are now and striving forward to see what will come.

Kneeling and praying

Sitting (or kneeling)

Sitting often requires an acceptance of the situation or moment that you are in. It might also involve an exhale of breath and the release of tension.

The intention is pausing in the current whirlwind to see where you are. Allowing yourself to be in the present, notice things around you. People, conversations, God. To choose to take big breaths for that moment.

Lying down encountering God through movement.

Lying down

Lying down forces, you to look upwards, to lift your face to what’s coming down, receive, accept and look at all the areas you couldn’t see from the other perspectives!

The intention is surrender, turning your face to God to receive his spirit, to listen to his voice and give to him the things that you have been holding onto.

But how will these movement help me with encountering God through prayer?

Let’s put it into practice…

Before we add an intention to your movements, get familiar with the movements and the space you’re in. Work your way through the different postures making note of what you see and how you feel. Often there is one that feels more comfy.

Now decide what you want to pray for…

Sometimes, if you’re a pen and paper person it can be useful to write down the things that you might want to pray for in each of the different postures. Or you can wing it!

Then move it…

You can work your way through the different postures speaking out your prayers in each place, pausing to listen to God.

Or if you are a mover and dancer then you can step out the things you have written into some simple movements or hand gestures.

Remember

The intention that you bring a movement can make it a prayer. So even if you’re washing up and scrubbing something clean, you can choose that movement for example to be a prayer…

  • About removing bad words said against you or someone else.
  • For new things to come when old stuff has gone.
  • To see the goodness amongst the craziness of life.

Intention in the action creates the prayer.

Praying with God outside.

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If you’re interested in learning more about prayer, dance and movement then there’s a free PDF download you grab here.

There is also weekly prayer dance bite session, where we look at scripture and how that reflects in our life at the moment and adding movement to do. More information about this can be found on the Prayer Dance Bites page on the website here.

Closer to God – My journey of advent prayer dance

If you follow me on social media you will have seen me posting daily throughout advent, an advent prayer dance. As advent comes to an end I wanted to share my journey of where it’s taken me over the 24 days. Prayer dance initiates so many people’s conversations with God. I delighted having the opportunity to be intentional, persevere and draw closer to God during this season.

Smiling with intention in advent prayer dance

Intentionality

In a month when I knew life would be very busy, I knew I had to be intentional about my prayers and communication with God during this advent season, choosing to a advent prayer dance everyday was very special. Prayer dance is something very close to the heart of UC Grace and has been the soul of 2020 as we have kept people moving for Jesus.

This wasn’t just about being intentional with DANCING a prayer, but being intentional about WHAT I was going to pray about. Whilst God gives us the freedom to move how we wish. If there is no intention behind what we are doing then it can be hard to see Jesus at the centre.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.

Romans 12.12

My intention was to share some of what God was saying during this season, identifying daily different things I could pray for. Which, through sharing with you would encourage, grow and ignite you during this season.

A goal of mine at the beginning of 2020, was to be intentional about incorporating movement into my daily life. At the beginning of the year I didn’t know what that would look like, and I probably should have been more specific – considering goals are supposed to be specific!

But 2020 has brought a new dimension to my movement, as it’s got closer to the end of the year I was prompted to share this with you. The advent dances offer glimpses into how I have been feeling and things God has laid on my heart.

Persevering to Jesus in advent prayer

Perseverance

This year more than ever perseverance has been important. In family, personal, spiritual and work life. Much of what we knew was turned upside down over night with the pandemic. With the majority of stuff still nowhere near what it once was or will be.

Perseverance during #adventdance for me has been about still choosing to move when I was tired, sad, or fed up. Those times that I made the effort to move through the emotions drew me closer to God. At the end of the day we to make the choice – 

To read about Jesus

Learn about how he lives

Ask him to help us in the tough times

Say thank you when we see him in the big stuff

OR

To live Jesus

Demonstrating to others who He is through how we live

Praying continually regardless of circumstance

Seeking joy and thankfulness on a daily basis

Prayer dance often puts you out of your comfort zone, challenging where God is in certain aspects of your life and your attitude towards others. But, it enables you to persevere through all circumstances, and dance when words are not sufficient to talk to God.

The days when I pushed through with advent prayer and still danced, peace reigned!

Kneeling closer to Jesus in advent

Closeness to God through advent prayer dance

Often people say pictures speak 1000 words. There’s detail, emotion, depth, growth and so much more when you look at pictures. But look at movement and you see someone’s heart on display.

You identify what they are feeling at that very moment and there’s an invitation for you to come and take part in what they are experiencing. As I shared these advent dances I was sharing what my heart was going through that day. There were days which were hard, but worship brings such a delight. Instead of letting the day dictate my feelings, I stepped out and followed through with the choice (intention) I had made to still dance (persevere). Through this I drew into God’s presence and stood by his side as I moved.

Reaching the end of my advent prayer dances, I really wanted to share with people something that God was saying I should do over the Christmas season, and that’s smile! Yes, I have a husband deployed and I always knew that this Christmas would be a different one. 

However, it’s now a different one for everyone in the country (little bit of comfort there). Despite many feeling like ‘Christmas is cancelled’. God says smile :-), I am here. Seek me, find me and draw close to me in the way that fits you.

We are all individual and how we choose to draw close to God during this time will be different. My journey is movement… what’s yours?

I’ll leave you with my #adventdance day 24 SMILE

Music – Smile, Sidewalk Prophets.

If you want to read more about prayer dance and how you can encounter it for yourself, head over to read How can I start to prayer dance?

To check out all dances from #adventdance head over to my Facebook or Instagram page.

Pinterest picture of advent prayer dance pictures.

Closer to God – How can I start to Prayer Dance?

Our heart within UC Grace has always been to encourage, grow and release those it connected with. How it has done that over the past 10 years has evolved alongside the people that have joined our journey. But a feature in many of our weekends and events is prayer dance.

Put simply, prayer dance is just dancing your prayers without the need for words, letting movement tell the story instead. Sometimes this can be influenced with music, other times music isn’t necessary to capture and share what God is speaking through the movement.

This can take you completely out of your comfort zone. But in this post I will walk you through a few ways that you can get into a rhythm of trying this. These suggestions can used for any type of prayer you need to make – personal, corporate, family, friend etc

Prayer dance being explore within a group.

Write it, learn it, dance it

Think about one thing that you would like to pray for currently. Write it down into a simple written prayer. It’s important to use key words that describe what the issue is, any emotions involved, and any encouraging words. Don’t make it complicated.

Next take the time to learn that prayer off by heart, to begin ingraining it so you anticipate what is coming next. When you speak, you naturally emphasise certain words, start to recognise the words that you are emphasising. These are your movement starting points.

Begin to put specific movements to the words that stand out to you in your prayer and practice them one after the other.

You now have a prayer dance! You have the choice to speak the words out loud and move the prayer at the same time or simply move it. Often our prayers are repeated, you now have a prayer dance that you can repeat. Then expand and alter as time moves on.

Let a song be your prayer dance

Words in songs can be very powerful, often you might find yourself either picking up on one or two key phrases or become enveloped in the song completely. Worship songs bring a different layer to our prayers. Many are written as heartfelt prayers, words directly from scriptures or specific words from God. This can be a natural way dance your prayer.

Autumn has set in around me, which meant that this morning was one of those lovely sunny autumn mornings. Brilliant sunshine, bright blue skies with some clouds, and a cooler temperature. A day that prompted recognising the things that we can be thankful for.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Psalm 95.1

As I sat and listened the song ‘This is the day’ by Pat Barrett, I couldn’t help but want to express the words as a prayer. For me, the song speaks so much movement, that speaking it or singing it, wasn’t changing the atmosphere as much as when I chose to move to it.

Think about some of the songs that you love, what parts of them are your prayer right now. Take some time to respond to those words, and, just like I mentioned above, learn it. Then in those moments when you need to remember that prayer you can simply move it – without the need for music.

Here is how I responded to the song This is the day, as my prayer dance.

Would you like to find out more?

If you’d love to explore more ways of exploring prayer dance, also read this on the blog. Plus, here are a few things that can help you.

40 Day Dance and Movement Devotional

Soak at Home

Prayer Dance Bites

Scripture prompts

Prayer dance pinterest graphic

Closer to God – Deepen your relationship with God in 3 ways with Psalm 100

Expanding our relationship with God can be done in so many ways. I want to take just a moment to reflect on Psalm 100 and 3 simple ways to grow that relationship with God. Through joy, knowing God and thanksgiving. Find a quiet space with a pen and paper and see what God says to you.

Shout for joy to the Lord

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100. 1-2)

Does joy elude you sometimes, do you find it hard to have, discover, receive? Joy is central to how God has made us. He wants us to shout about Him all round the earth, to worship him with gladness.

Joy enables us to experience what God feels about us, to build our relationship to God and worship with our whole being. It allows an overflow of what we feel inside to be demonstrated on the outside. There is joy in our every day, but we must make the effort to find it.

So how can you shout for Joy to the Lord? Notice when you smile! Simples as the meerkat would say! Our hectic world means that we are often haring about from one thing to another and don’t pause, don’t pick up when you’ve made a smile, giggled or jumped!

A simple change to find that joy to shout out about, is to pause and make note! Whether that is a physical note in a diary, a photo or simply just actually acknowledging that thing that brought you some joy!

We can only come before God with joyful songs if we have made the effort to find our joyful songs and moments in life!

Waving flags in an outside park.

Know you relationship with God

Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100.3)

In Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 29, we hear how God has made us all individual, that every bit of our plans, he has already written and will come to pass. We are His because He made us. In those moments when it might be hard to find joy, know that God is with you. That he will carry you, he will care for you, and that he will support you.

God loves the analogy of the sheep, he uses them to help us foster our relationship with God. Sheep willingly follow where others go, as God draws us into his pasture, may we lean on him, may we know him, and recognise that we are his people.

And that in spite of everything else is going on around us God is our God and as we seek to bring joy, gladness and worship into our lives, may we just trust God more, may we put our hearts on the line. Seeking the pasture and whatever it brings.

What are the reasons you personally know the Lord is God? Why not make a note  stick them somewhere visible.

at the cross contemplating their relationship with God.
Reading Gods to build a relationship with God.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100.4-5)

The final section in Psalm 100 encourages us to keep going with our praises. A joyful or thankful day shouldn’t be just once! It should be on going, and earnestly sought. God puts laughter, exploration and fun in our soul. He delights in seeing us exploring Him, growing closer to Him and having fun doing so.

God’s faithfulness will always shine through even in those times when praising and thanking is hard, God will still stand beside you.

How often do you thank God in your day? Why don’t you commit to acknowledging 5 things you are thankful for at the end of each day? You could do this as a family, in a journal, as a doodle, a dance and movement, sing it, or any other creative way that you feel suits you as an individual.

Lets just celebrate and wave our arms
Having thanksgiving conversations with friends.

I want to leave you with a fun video, that encapsulates a moment of joy on one of the UC Grace weekends away. If you want to see more from our dance weekends head to the gallery here. If you have a desire to go deeper with scripture and dance and movement, then check out our Prayer Dance Bites here.

Pinterest graphic. Ladies reading the bible to deepen relationship with God.

Closer to God – Pausing, Praying, Encountering and Moving at our Soak events

Our Soak events have evolved over the past two years into a time where getting closer to God is essential, they can help to put a pause in your week and focus back on God.

What is a UC Grace Soak event?

In 2019 we launched our first soak evening. The Soak evening developed out of a need to offer opportunities to grow closer to God. Being specific about the time that we give to that. What began as an evening event in 2019, migrated into a morning event in 2020. Moving with the world situation, it migrated further to an online event during their biggest restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown.

We are now back to meeting face to face, yay!! Therefore, looking forward to the opportunity of seeking to deepen our relationship with God and grow closer to him.

Mel sitting with her hands out closer to God

Why should we set aside specific time to get closer to God?

Integrated within us, is a need to gather with others. By choosing to gather with others it can help us to recognise where we feel our relationship is with God. This allows us to not only go deeper looking at scriptures and praying for each other. But also the chance to dance with others whose hearts are simply to use dance to deepen their relationship with God.

Some people found it a bit indulgent having that chance to give ourselves some much needed ‘me-time’. But the world that we live in means that we need to give ourselves some time. Plus, God rested, and he calls us to rest to.

“for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4.10-11

Often we get wrapped up in what’s happening around us, running around after one thing to the next, but God wants us to pause, he wants us to soak in all that he has for us, and sometimes that means giving ourselves some self-care.

Encountering God and getting closer to God with hands palm up.

So what happens?

During our soak events there is no ‘set’ agenda other than to encounter Jesus. But there are four main things which we do to encourage that encounter and help people to make that connection throughout the course of the evening.

  • Pausing
  • Praying
  • Encountering
  • Moving

These four key things help us on that journey to deepen our relationship with God and ultimately get closer to him. We live in a world where things are changing daily. Routines which once were set have evolved into something different and will continue to evolve into something else. But the importance of putting aside time to draw close to God will always be there. That’s why I want to encourage you to give that time to yourself, to get closer to God.

Praying for others at a soak event to get closer to God.
Raising a flag in worship closer to God.

Here are some participants feedback on getting closer to God at a UC Grace soak event.

‘Space to move as well as utter freedom to be still for long periods introduced a new dynamic.’

‘Just enjoyed being free to move’

‘It gave me some focus time to spend with God’

Want to know more about our Soak Events, then head here.