How do we cultivate a sweet, personal, devotional relationship with God?
One key, for me, was to realize and accept that God wants our love and needs our love.
“God yearns for our love … what is God longing for? Our love. Our attention. He has made it very difficult for Himself, because He gave man free will to seek Him or reject Him. He says, ‘I am pursuing every heart, waiting for My children to spurn My creation and turn toward Me.’ … unless we choose to go to Him willingly He cannot free us or Himself from suffering.” —Paramhansa Yogananda
Feeling or imagining God’s need has been a crucial part of my own devotional practice.
When I first started taking daily devotional walks several years ago, I first focused exclusively on giving love to God and feeling God’s pain at my lack of appreciation for Him and His joy and delight for the efforts I was now making.
The relationship we have with God as His children, is reflected in the relationship we have as parents with our own children. How does it feel when our children ignore us? We don’t stop loving them, but our hearts are pained. How joyful and how much gratitude do we feel when our children show us some love and appreciation. God feels the same with us.
Since starting the devotional walks, there have been times, months, even year(s) when I’ve not focused on God’s need and just practiced sharing love with God while feeling God as an impersonal Spirit. This was definitely helpful, but not as sweet as when I felt God needing my love.
Many great Saints have focused on the suffering of Christ as a doorway into deep devotion.
“I used to find myself most at home in the prayer in the Garden, whither I went in His company. I thought of the bloody sweat, and of the affliction He endured there; I wished, if it had been possible, to wipe away that painful sweat from His face.” —Saint Teresa of Avila
Christmas Nativity scenes can be deeply moving, because they awaken a divinely nurturing spirit in us. A love and nurturing for God as the baby Jesus.
By practicing loving God, we help God.
Lately, rather than focusing on God’s need and pain, I’ve been practicing feeling God’s gratitude to me for efforts made, no matter how small, to love Him.
When taking walks or sitting in contemplation, I feel God & I are making love at the top of every breath, while also feeling the deep mutual gratitude we have for each other. This helps open up a wonderfully sweet, personal communion.
Sitting at my computer now, it is hard to write this. Feelings of unworthiness come up.
How can I be deserving of God’s gratitude?
Even looking at the picture of Master on my wall right now is hard, feeling unworthy, feeling I’m being pretentious.
But God and Master coax me …
“look at Me … it’s OK to accept God’s gratitude.”