Building your relationship with God can seem daunting and overwhelming. Maybe you just feel far away from Him. You know you need to spend more time with Him but where do you start? Maybe your parents have been nagging you to go to church or you can’t seem to shake that little voice that keeps telling you to do the right thing. Whatever has brought you to this place, God can use it to help you grow in your relationship with Him.
Over the years, I’ve been at various places in my relationship with God. Sometimes, I can’t wait to wake up in the morning to read my Bible and pray and other times, I’m lucky if I get to spend five minutes thinking about God. We’re all in different stages of our spiritual lives. The good thing about it is if there’s breath in our bodies, we’re able to continue to grow closer and closer with God. We simply need to make the decision and tell God and He’ll help us.
I want to share a few things that have helped me over the years (and continue to help me) grow in my spiritual journey with God.
1. Focus on relationship building. Make a commitment to developing your relationship with God. Let Him know you intimately, and prepare to get to know Him intimately as well.
As Christians, we’re taught so much of the do’s and don’ts. It’s embedded in our culture. The 10 commandments. Everything seems to begin and end with them. And they are important. Jesus says, if you love Me, keep my commandments.
Perhaps the fact that the word “command” is in the word “commandments” people are turned off. We live in a world where no one likes anyone telling them what to do, and I include myself in this. Our world teaches us to take care of ourselves and to be self-sufficient. Then, you have a God come along and telling you what to do. It can seem confronting because it goes against all the norms of our world. This is why when you’re looking to build your relationship with God, you should focus on relationship building.
Let me put it in everyday terms – something we can all relate to: relationships.
Ladies, imagine you just met an amazing man. So far, he’s ticking all the boxes. He’s definitely someone you’d write home about and bring home to mom. He’s gorgeous, polite, smart AND of course, he’s funny. Gotta be funny! You all make plans to spend all of your free time together. You have lots in common and things are going well. You just want to be together.
In this scenario, you’re just focusing on relationship building; you’re not focusing on anything else. Obviously, you don’t want to be mean to this new guy. You don’t want to steal from him while he’s in the bathroom or take money from his wallet. You focus on the relationship building not on all the things you can’t do, because you know those things are hurtful and they would likely harm the budding relationship. The same is true with God. When you’re looking to build your relationship with God, focus on the relationship.
2. Give God special time each day. Set aside a special time each day for God. It works well for me to spend time with God in the morning. This way it helps me focus on what’s truly important and put everything else into perspective for the day.
3. Develop a prayer life. Make prayer an important and nonnegotiable part of your life. Continuously keep the lines of communication open with God so that you can talk to Him and so that He can talk to you (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
3. Study your Bible daily. Many people discuss what the Bible says without ever opening it. Reading the Bible will give you insight on the struggles that many Bible characters went through. When I’m faced with a problem in life, I often try to think of a Bible character that went through something similar, then I compare the way I’m dealing with the situation with the way they dealt with it.
The audio book The Bible Experience has had a positive impact on my life, but you can use a number of others. I recommend that you start with the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Get to the heart of the matter and read about the life of Christ.
5. Do something for God. We often become uninterested in our human relationships when we no longer participate in them. The same is true in our relationship with God. You have to keep the relationship active. “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these . . . you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). So if you are consistently forgetting to reach out to the world around you, you are not reaching out to God. Christianity is a contact sport—you can’t be a benchwarmer Christian.
6. Watch your appetite. This doesn’t mean to physically watch what you eat (though this is important as well); it means to be wary of what you take in. If you spend the entire day watching the Real World Marathon on MTV, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the desire to spend time with God directly afterward. If you eat apple-flavored candy before eating an apple, the apple is less likely to taste as sweet. The same is true in your spiritual life. The music, books, TV and Internet you are consuming can dull your appetite for God.
7. Join a church and get involved. Another way you can do something special for God is by getting involved in a church ministry. It’s always great to have a church family that cares about you and that holds you accountable. It’s also a great place to discover and use your spiritual gifts.
8. Climb over spiritual brick walls. For example, when a spiritual leader falls, you find out something unbelievable about a Christian friend, you find that people in church don’t do what they say, or you find yourself bored in your relationship with God. These are walls we must climb over (with God’s help). Previously when I hit spiritual brick walls, I would walk away from my relationship with God, because I didn’t know how to deal with them. But instead of running into the brick wall, fight your way over it. This is part of the growth process. It’s the same concept you face when working out. You will eventually plateau, and at this point you must address the problem and adjust your workout plan in order to keep growing. You must increase the weight or increase the reps.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. We can’t stay in the same spiritual spot all of our lives. Realize that people make mistakes and fall. Be forgiving and move forward. Get involved at church. Read a book of the Bible that you haven’t read before. Tell your testimony, or what I like to call your “battle story.” How has God worked in your life? Share it with those around you. Ask God to help you fight through the spiritual brick wall and to take you to the next level in your relationship with Him.
9. Learn to follow God’s will. Learning to follow God’s will is like a football game. At the beginning of the game you don’t know you will win. You go in with a strategy, coaches, and players, but you don’t know when you will execute the plays, because you have not yet played this particular game against this particular opponent. But just because you don’t know yet doesn’t mean you quit the game halfway through. If the game’s not going right, you listen to the coach, revise the strategy, and go back out to play. Your spiritual life is the same. Don’t throw in the towel at halftime. Keep playing; keep seeking God’s will. Take it play by play until you make it down the field.
After all of that you may feel like you’re not quite ready to go deeper with God because you don’t know who He is. Have you ever stopped and wondered to yourself, Who is God? I have, and I share my perspective in this post.