If you’re like me, sometimes when you think about responding to God, you really only consider your physical actions or non-actions. While this is certainly one form of response, the Holy Spirit is interested in more than your activities. He’s invested in all of you.   

Recently I was on a hike in the mountains where I came across a beautiful mountain meadow. I was hiking alone, but was with God in prayer. Suddenly I had a strong compulsion to stop. As if God was inviting me to sit with him for a while.  

In this moment, I had to make a choice: to ignore the Spirit’s prompting and walk on, or to accept his invitation and stop.  

I decided to listen. I sat down and took off my pack. My first response to God was to stop doing and be still. 

 But the invitation from God to stop wasn’t simply about stopping. There was more he wanted.  

As we sat there, it seemed to me that every bird chirp and leaf rustle was magnified to my ears. My heart was warm with wonder. God’s deeper invitation seemed to be: “Sit with me, and let my love restore you.” 

In that place, I ended up writing a poem—a prayer inviting God to show me his love more clearly. It was a powerful moment in my life and my walk with God.  

Responding with head, heart, and hands

I’m fairly practised at responding to God with my actions. But through moments like this one, I have come to realize that God is often inviting me to respond with more than my behaviour. 

I have found it helpful to consider that my thoughts (my head), emotions (my heart), and my actions (my hands) are all part of my being. These are deeply integrated, but reflecting on them separately helps me respond holistically to God. The point is not to artificially compartmentalize, but to partner more fully with the Holy Spirit. 

Your head: Very often, the Holy Spirit is working to change your thinking. Perhaps there is a lie about yourself, God, or the world to let go of. Perhaps there is some new truth to reflect on and bring into your library of faith.

Your heart: Jesus’ most common question was “What do you want?” He understands that your affections drive your actions, at least as often as your rationality. 

As I’ve spent more time reflecting on my heart, I have been surprised by how often God is inviting an emotional response from me. Often he is inviting me to 

  • exercise gratitude
  • share in his sorrow
  • linger in his love
  • be restored by his delight

Your hands: Finally the place that often seems like a starting point: What is the Holy Spirit leading you to do? For example,

  • Might he be inviting you to extend an apology or give forgiveness? 
  • Perhaps he is inviting you to be present in some brokenness? 
  • Or to pursue something beautiful? 

By breaking it up like this and reflecting on how you might respond to God with your head, heart, and hands, you can respond more holistically to the Holy Spirit.  

Of course, before responding, first pause to let the Spirit help you hear God’s voice

Then remember the true story of being beloved by God

We’ll do both of these things in the following reflection guide, before reflecting on how the Spirit is directing your head, heart, and hands today.  

Start by preparing

Find a quiet place, and pull out a pen and paper. Ensure you won’t be interrupted for the next few moments. 

Take a few deep breaths before beginning. Allow your body to be at ease. 

Begin by acknowledging God’s presence. Give thanks that he is near. Recognize that he loves you.

Befriend your distractions. If anything comes to mind that might distract you, jot it down, or imagine placing it on the chair beside you, and say, “I’ll come back to you in a moment, friend.”

Recognize yourself in the story

Read the following passage slowly several times. 

As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” 

The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”

Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”

They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”

Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession.

Matthew 20:29-34 (The Message)

Try to put yourself in the story. Engage your senses: see the bustling crowd, hear the cries for mercy, sense the ground beneath you and the sun on your skin. Read it again slowly.

What in this story resonates with you today?

How do you respond today to Jesus’ question: What do you want from me?  

Recognize what’s going on in your whole being. What is happening in your body as you reflect on this exchange? Is there some tension being held or released? 

Remember his love

This story reminds us that Jesus was “deeply moved.” How do you experience Jesus’ motivation as he meets with you today? 

How much of Jesus’ compassion are you able to receive today? What might it look like to ask and wait for a greater awareness of his love? 

Respond meaningfully

You’ve imagined yourself in the story, recognizing your reactions to Jesus. 

You’ve reflected on the way you perceive Jesus’ attitude toward you. 

Now it’s time to consider how the Holy Spirit is inviting you to respond. To be holistic, let’s look at three aspects of you:

Your head: Is there some new insight into who you are or who God is that he is inviting you to start believing today? Is there some belief about who you are or who God is that he is inviting you to release

Your heart: How has your encounter with Jesus affected you? Perhaps filled you with joy? With adoration? With a sense of comfort? Or perhaps there is some angst or grief? 

How is Jesus inviting you to either savour or surrender these feelings? 

Your hands: In what way might Jesus be inviting you to join him? Some work to undertake alongside him? Or perhaps the invitation is to stop doing something? 

When a response comes to mind, you still have to choose to respond. To help with actually acting—whether with your head, heart, or hands—I encourage you to 

  • Pray, talking to God about the response he’s inviting you to take
  • Journal or otherwise note his invitation
  • Share with a close friend 

Then take a step, even a baby step, toward the response God has invited you to. 

There have been seasons in my life when responding to God’s loving work in my life was quick and wholehearted. In other seasons, I have resisted and avoided any kind of response. Part of what this exercise may help you do today is simply identify your own compulsions and resistances to God’s invitation.

So if nothing significant happened in this reflection, or if you find yourself resistant, don’t give up. God is working in your life, but sometimes it takes a while to respond to him.

Wherever you are in the story, you move Jesus to respond with compassion. 

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About the Author

Sean Cullen

Sean was our previous National Director of Power to Change – Students. He lives in Edmonton with his wife Nancy, and five children.

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