How to Grow Your Relationship with God - Part 1
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Your relationship with God is the most important aspect of your life. I know this from personal experience, but also because this is what each of us were created for. You and me and every human being in existence has been made in the image of God, for the glory of God, and with the intention of having a close relationship with God.
From observing the life of Jesus, we see that He walked with His disciples, ate with them, hung out with them, talked with them, served with them. He was their friend, and He loved them.
He wants to do the same with you. That's right, girl. God wants to have a relationship with you. Maybe you already have one but are looking to grow even deeper. Or maybe you don't just yet and want to learn how and what this means.
Knowing Jesus and having a continual, growing relationship with Him will naturally change you and allow you to experience the life God has for you. As you grow deeper in your relationship with God, you will also start to truly see His love for you and His faithfulness.
God is more than just your Creator and Savior, as amazing as both of those are. He is also a Father and Friend that cares about even the smallest details of what you’re going through - the good and the bad.
My relationship with God has completely changed my life. Looking back, I see clearly how important it was, especially in the hard times. Even when I pushed God away or was not actively nurturing my relationship with Him, God relentlessly pursued me.
He wanted better for me than what my own bad decisions kept causing, or He wanted to get me through the seasons that were out of my control. I quickly learned that the only thing that provides an unshakeable comfort, joy, and hope (especially in the hard times) is my relationship with Jesus.
Your relationship with God is the most essential, most joy-bringing aspect of life. You might already be a Christian, but I want you to ask yourself if you know Jesus.
If you haven't given your life to Christ or want to know more about what that means, start here before reading the rest of this article. If you are already a Christian/Christ follower, I want to encourage and challenge you in a few ways that will help you build and grow in your relationship with God.
A summary of pretty much this entire blog post is this: As with any relationship, you grow closer to someone by spending time with them. All you have to do is give God your time and you will naturally grow closer to Him.
Here are some practical ways to start spending time with God today:
Make It a Priority
The first tip I want to give you is to plan for this. Just like you would plan for hanging out with a friend, give God an even greater priority in your schedule. The reason this is so important is because it’s so easy to say we’re going to spend time with Jesus and even intend to. But if we don’t intentionally plan and make it a priority, it most likely won’t happen. There's a greater chance you will get distracted with other things or forget.
Remind yourself that God is your Creator and Savior. He is the God of the universe. He deserves our carefully planned, protected time. Our mentality shouldn’t be, “If I have time today” or, “If I get this done first, then I’ll spend time with the Lord”. We need to plan our time with Him on purpose like it’s the most important thing we do all day, because it is.
Your Time and Place
Set aside time. Look at your schedule and ask yourself what time of day would be best for you personally. When will you be able to focus? What can be moved around? Maybe this means going to bed earlier so that you can wake up early and have your time with God first thing in the morning. Or maybe this means starting your evening routine 30 minutes earlier so that you can end your day in God’s Word. Or this may even mean dropping something of lesser importance to prioritize spending time with Jesus.
Whatever this may look like for you, be intentional. Designate a specific time and amount of time you are going to spend in God’s Word and in prayer each day.
Plan your place. Think about all the things that distract you every day - TV, your phone, other people in the room, noise, messes, etc. In order for me to completely focus, my environment has to be quiet, free from screens, and comfy. I even have a designated 5 minutes each morning where I make some hot tea or coffee, grab a blanket, my Bible and notebook, and settle in. This allows me to quiet my mind, focus, and truly enjoy my time with the Lord.
So I encourage you to plan your place. If you get distracted easily, choose a room with no screens or sit outside. Make it enjoyable for yourself, too. Make some coffee, grab a cute notebook and your favorite pen, a soft blanket and your Bible, or whatever you like that makes it a mini getaway for you - like you are about to meet with your best friend.
Give your mind a rest from all the distractions, and prepare your heart to hear God’s voice.
Reading God's Word
“For the word of God is alive and active…” Hebrews 4:12
One of the most powerful ways to grow in your relationship with God is by reading His Word.
When you open God’s Word, He will show you more of Himself, speak to your heart by His Spirit, and often times give you exactly what you need for that day or season in your life.
If you are already spending time in scripture each day and have found what works for you, that’s amazing and I would encourage you to keep going. If you aren’t sure where to start in the Bible, I would suggest choosing a book of the Bible and reading a chapter or more each day. A great place to start is in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
You could also choose a Study or Devotional book that guides you through a certain topic. This is a great way to pinpoint a certain struggle or area of growth and dive deeper. My favorite devotional writers are Beth Moore, Lysa Teurkurst, and Priscilla Shirer.
You can find Bible studies and devotional books at Christian bookstores like Lifeway or Mardel, or a lot of local churches have bookstores with a variety of devotionals. Most of their websites will even allow you to search by topic so you can find what will best serve you in the season you’re in.
Maybe you have explored a lot of different ways of readying scripture but are needing something fresh to help you connect with God's Word. One of my favorite ways to dive deeper is going through a chronological study of the Bible.
This allows you to see a historical timeline of the Bible and can help you understand the context and meaning behind what you're reading. One of my favorite chronological studies to follow is from Bible Study Tools. You can also google them and find one that interests you.
We get to know Jesus by spending time in His Word, but also by talking to Him about everything:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalms 62:8
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
These verses not only show us that God wants us to pray to Him about everything, they also give us a glimpse as to why God wants us to pray. It isn’t because he doesn’t know what’s going on in our lives and relies on us to tell Him (Matthew 6:8 says, “...your father knows what you need before you ask Him.”). The reason He wants us to pray is actually for our own good.
When we begin to praise God for all that He is and thank Him for everything He has done for us, our problems tend to get smaller and smaller. As we pray, specifically when we praise and thank Him, we are almost reminding ourselves that God loves us, He is faithful, He is all-powerful, and in control.
Prayer also focuses our attention on the presence of God. And there is something about His presence, even just the fact that the God of the universe is listening, that causes an unexplainable joy and peace to wash over you no matter what you’re going through. We become more humble and sensitive to His voice and call on our lives.
The Spirit also does a work in our hearts when we pray. He convicts us, corrects us, and guides us. Prayer strengthens us to leave wherever we are and respond to our situation in faith instead of fear.
A little side tip to help you focus while you're spending time with the Lord is to keep a journal. We are constantly bombarded with distractions, and if you’re like me, it can be hard to keep your train of thought focused on one thing. Journaling can help with this.
It’s really easy for me to get distracted while I’m praying, so writing out my prayers can help me stay focused and slow me down enough to really think about Who I’m talking to and what specific needs I need to lay before Him.
Journaling can also help you focus while reading God’s Word. Writing down certain verses that speak to you personally is a great way to break down meaning and truly let the words sink in.
Journaling is also a great way to remember things that made an impact on you in your time with the Lord. I remember a long time ago I had written some verses down that helped me through a specific time in my life. I wrote out a prayer below asking God to bring me back to that page in the future when I needed those verses the most. Sure enough, literally years later I was going through a similar situation and decided to flip through my old journals for encouragement.
I completely forgot what I had written a few years earlier, and flipped right to that page. I was left in awe of our God who is so faithful and who plans ahead. What you write in your time with the Lord may help you one day, or it may be a testimony to what God was doing in your life at that time for you to look back on.
You may only have 15 minutes each morning, and that’s okay - the real key here is consistency. God wants you to seek Him with your whole heart (“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13) which means prioritizing your time with Him continuously.
You may not sense the Spirit or have a verse jump out at you right away, keep going, don't give up. Keep showing the Lord you want to know Him and are seeking Him, and He will definitely bless that and show up for you. James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” You may even start to look forward to that designated time set aside with Your Lord.
Lastly, I want to give you a glimpse of what your life is going to look like as you grow in your relationship with Jesus. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” And then in Galatians 5:22-23, we see that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
As you spend time with Jesus, you will see yourself naturally beginning to change and becoming more like Him. You will feel more love towards others as God starts allowing you to see people as He sees them. You will have an unexplainable peace in tough situations. You will be more patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and more self-controlled. You will become more Godly and beautiful on the inside, and people will start to notice.
Recap: Tips for Spending More Time with Jesus
Make It a Priority
Set Aside Time
Plan Your Place
Read God’s Word
Journal (if it helps you)
Don’t Give Up
Part 2 coming soon!