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5 Ways to Deepen Your Relationship with God

No relationship in our lives is more important than the one we have with our creator and purpose-giver. But just like any other relationship, we still go through ups and downs. Some days we feel real close to God, knowing that He is right beside us every step of the way. Other days we feel as if God is distant, or like He doesn’t have much to do with the challenges of our daily lives.

But a solid relationship with God will sustain us and enable us to live a fulfilling life even during the down days. So, how can we go about deepening our relationship with God? Here are a few quick ideas:

 

 

1. Get to know who God is—Read the Bible

We know this one already, don’t we? Since the Bible is how God reveals Himself to us, there’s no better way to get to know Him! Just as the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

If you’re in a Bible-reading slump (or even if you’re not), try switching up your routine. Instead of a short passage a day, sit down and read through longer sections of a book to get the big picture. Or, if you’re used to large chunks, take your time with a handful of verses. Borrow commentaries, use reference books, or change up your study time! And don’t forget to share any new insights or connections you made with others, and ask them what they’ve been learning!

 

 

2. Spend time with God—Pray

Like any other relationship, it is important that we spend time talking with and listening to God.

But sometimes, we don’t really know what to talk about. Do you tell God what you’re grateful for? Do you confess your sins to Him? Do you pray for a need? Do you ever take time to just tell God how awesome He is?

When we’re not sure how to pray in our current season of life, we can always try praying through the psalms. The psalms cover the entire range of human experience and emotion, and provide a blueprint for drawing near to God whatever circumstances we are in. Like the Psalmist, we can cry out to God, confident that He hears our prayers and will respond in love (Psalm 17:6-7).

 

 

3. Live out your love for God—Obey

Before His death, Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).

That’s about as straightforward as it gets. If we love God, we obey Him. The Bible has laid out principles for interacting with our parents (Ephesians 6:1-2), and people we disagree with (Romans 14:1-21) . . . It reminds us to pursue what is good (Philippians 4:8-9), and to be humble and compassionate (Colossians 3:12).

Though obedience is sometimes temporarily inconvenient or uncomfortable, we know that it is ultimately for the best. These are commands that God has given us out of love, to protect us, and draw us to him.

 

 

4. Live out God’s love for others—Serve

Because God loves us, we are called to likewise love those around us—even when it’s not easy, or the people around us make it difficult to love (1 John 4:19).

But it doesn’t need to be complicated. We can offer a cup of hot cocoa. Or be generous with our time and money. We can find a position to serve in church. And at the very least, we can pray—especially for those we struggle to get along with.

We can learn to love others well through caring for people around us. Let us try, and try again, even if we don’t always feel like it. And through this, we will grow close to God’s heart by trying to live out His priorities.

 

 

5. Enjoy the gifts He’s given us—Live with Gratitude

Finally, let us simply enjoy God and the many gifts He has given us. Do you see blue skies when you look up? Our loving God put it there. Do you feel the warmth of the sun or the cool of the wind? They are our Father’s gifts. Do you have fingers and toes? What a reason for gratitude!

And of all the gifts we have, what greater gift than God Himself! He has sacrificed so much, simply for a relationship with us. What could be more wonderful than that? Let us respond with joy.

 

When You’re Skeptical of God’s Plan

I consider myself a very thorough decision-maker. I try to think of all possible factors, potential outcomes, and I take a long time to do it (as if more time would result in a better decision). I certainly don’t have a problem with not thinking things through—my problem is that despite all my efforts, I’m actually not very well-equipped to make decisions. I’m not sure any of us are. After all, we can’t anticipate the impact of every decision we make. We can’t predict the future situations we’ll run into, or the best way to prepare for opportunities we don’t know we’ll have.

I faced this reality head on during my third year of university, when I found myself agonizing over a really difficult decision. My pursuit and study of comparative politics had led me to apply for an opportunity to spend a summer interning at my state representative’s office in Washington, D.C. After interviews, applications and essays, and only a few months before the semester ended, I received news that I had been accepted. Not only did my representative’s office offer me a position as a summer intern, but unlike the majority of D.C. internships, mine would be funded, as I had also been awarded a competitive scholarship.

Everything was quickly falling into place for this incredible resume-building and prestigious opportunity. But all the while, I couldn’t shake an unmistakable uneasiness that I felt about taking the internship. In response to the uneasiness, I turned to seriously praying about the decision before I committed to anything.

As I prayed, I found myself considering getting a job near my university and staying local for the summer, instead of spending it 700 miles away in Washington, D.C. But that didn’t make any sense to me. I made a list of pros and cons, and every train of logic concluded with it being an obvious decision to go to D.C. It was a rare chance to work for a state representative, I would gain a ton of experience in my field of study, and it would be a great opportunity to shine Jesus’ light in the political center of the country. I was even planning to move to D.C. after I completed my degree, and this would give me a chance to make valuable connections that might help me find a job after graduation!

Nevertheless, the more I prayed about the decision, the more I felt peace about the choice to stay local, and consequently, I felt increasingly uneasy about taking the internship. I knew what I had to do. So after wrestling with and praying through the decision for weeks, I finally informed the office and scholarship committee that I wouldn’t be taking them up on their offer.

Honestly, I was relieved. But I was still so frustrated that the only explanation I had to offer my inquiring friends and family was, “I prayed about it, and it just didn’t feel right.” Even though a few close Christian friends completely understood my prayerful decision, this seemingly trite response left most people curiously questioning my life decisions.

Five years down the road now, I can see how spending the summer locally allowed me to develop a friendship that later turned into marriage with my best friend. I can also see that, as I continued to submit my plans for comparative politics to God, He totally redirected my aspirations and career. He laid job opportunities in my path that I could not have anticipated or prepared for, and that definitely did not involve politics or moving to Washington, D.C.

We can’t always find explanations or reasons for why God leads us a certain direction. Sometimes it takes half our lifetime before we can understand—sometimes we may never know. But, this rare experience allows me to look back and think, “Ahhhh. I see what You were doing there. I’m glad we went with Your plan and not mine!” I hold tightly to this. I let it remind me that our all-knowing, wonderful, mighty God is not constrained by human logic, and certainly works outside of our understanding.

These moments of clarity help me to avoid leaning on my own understanding and pursuing what the world tells me is a good opportunity, and instead to submit my ways to a God whose thoughts and plans are so much higher than my own (see Proverbs 3:5-6 and Isaiah 55:8-9).

I’m so thankful I didn’t end up in D.C. that summer, because it would have taken me several steps further down the wrong path, away from the beautiful future God had planned both for my marriage, and my career. It’s comforting for me to know that God is worthy of my trust, even when He steers me in an unexpected or confusing direction.

He is the perfect author (Hebrews 12:2), and that means He knows every plot twist, every challenge to come, and every mistake I will make. I can always turn to Him for guidance, trusting Him before myself and before worldly wisdom, to direct and author my life story.

 

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our series on Seeking God in Decision-Making. Read the other articles in the series, “When Things Don’t Make Sense” here and “When You Don’t Hear From God” here!

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