5 surprisingly simple ways to grow closer to God in 2024
Wanting to deepen your connection with God in the new year? Here are five simple and doable ideas you can try.
1) Stop consuming the news and practice gratitude.
The 24 hour news cycle deals in fear. The media have perfected the art of inciting fear and making us feel like “knowing more” will relieve our anxiety.
Fear is a powerful distraction from God’s constant presence and care. The more we obsess about knowing what’s going on in the world, the more we (wrongly) believe we can control it—or at least relieve our anxiety. But it won’t work, it’s a devilish cycle, and it will consume us.
Gratitude is the antidote. It’s an easy way to turn our attention to God’s goodness and care. Instead of reading the news tomorrow morning, take that same time and simply jot down two or three things you are thankful for. You can be grateful for anything, large or small. As you notice these things, let that warm, open feeling of gratitude expand inside your body. Notice how it feels and enjoy it. God is actually good!
And I promise you won't miss anything! I once ignored the news for 3 months. When I finally checked in I had to laugh. The first story I saw after three months was basically the exact same story as the last one I had read.
2) Turn off your phone notifications.
Simple distraction is the next best way to keep us from attending to God’s faithfulness and interest in us. The devil just keeps bouncing our attention from one thing to the next, never letting it land anywhere long enough to actually contemplate anything.
It’s a quick fix for our anxiety, but in the long run it only makes things worse. We feel stretched thin, harried, disintegrated. Everything is always demanding our attention and there’s not enough of that to go around.
So this is an easy step towards peace. Simply go to the settings app on your phone and turn off notifications for every non-critical app. Do you really need Facebook or TikTok pinging you 4 or 5 times an hour? Do you really care about the ads from Walmart and Harbor Freight? Do you actually need to know every time you get an email? Be honest now.
I’ve had every notification on my phone turned off—except for a few critical text messaging apps I use primarily for family—for the last year. And I haven’t once missed all those pingings and vibrations. For the first day or so I worried I was missing something, and would check various apps manually. But pretty quickly I lost interest. Things happening on Facebook seemed far less urgent.
I still check my social media apps more often than I would like, but I check them far less often than I used to do so. And I’ve completely forgotten about some apps.
Which leads me to the bonus level of this suggestion: delete apps you don’t actually need 🙂. I’m betting you’ll be surprised by how many apps are on your phone that you’ve almost never used.
3) Begin your day with the Lord's prayer and a Psalm everyday.
Okay, now we get to the meatier suggestions, but my aim is still to make these easy to do and maintain.
Instead of grabbing your phone and looking at the news or social media, why not grab your phone and have it guide you through a very simple and short prayer. Bookmark this web page I’ve created for you and visit it every morning. You’ll see the Lord’s prayer and a link to a new Psalm every day.
Here’s my suggestion. Say the Lord’s prayer twice, once to wake yourself up and get your mind going, and a second time to actually pay attention to what you are saying. Let the words speak for you and most days something will catch you as being your prayer for the day.
Then read the Psalm for that day. That link will endlessly cycle through the Psalms (breaking up Psalm 119 into chunks), and pretty soon you’ll have a great familiarity with the Psalms. You won’t regret it.
P.s. If you want to gain some deeper insight into the Lord’s prayer to support your new habit, we are publishing a podcast series on it starting January 5th. Subscribe and learn!
4) Begin your day with a lectionary reading.
A daily Psalm not quite your thing? How about a daily dose of scripture passages from the Old and New Testament? A daily lectionary (reading) has been a staple in the Christian church for centuries. There are different variations of lectionaries with different collections of scripture, but the goal is to offer scripture for meditation for every day of the year so you don’t have to flip and point every morning.
You can find a daily lectionary in a lot of places. Most liturgical churches offer one for you to follow. But you can also use that web page I’ve created and click through to today’s readings at your convenience.
P.s. let me know if you start using that page! I’d love to add valuable resources while keeping it simple.
5) Subscribe to Signpost Inn’s weekly email.
My last suggestion is another easy one. Simply hop over here and subscribe to our weekly email. We’ll even send you a free copy of our Contemplative Encounter with the Psalms prayer guide which features unique art created by friends of the ministry.
Then, every week you’ll receive a short meditation on an interesting topic, simple suggestions for practicing faithful spirituality, questions and answers, and loads more helpful resources.
It’s free, powerful, and a great way to deepen your relationship with God in 2024.