As Christians, there is often a lot of focus on ‘following rules’ and doing things religiously, often leading us into the checklist mind-set; mentally ticking off boxes to give yourself that self-satisfying pat on the back. Unfortunately, this can often do more harm than good, helping us to tip-toe into neglecting an intimate and real relationship with God.
Consider it this way. How often do you set yourself a godly standard, fail, then beat yourself up about it. Not only that, but then stroking your ego by telling yourself that ‘well, at least I feel guilty … that must mean there’s still some good in me’. The problem with this is that, as Romans 3:20 says, ‘by the deeds of the law, there shall be no flesh justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Romans 7: 18 continues by saying
‘For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for the will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.’
These passages stand to remind us that in actual fact, we are incapable of reaching true union with God if we merely follow prescribed rules. Instead, we should strive for a deeper relationship and an intimate understanding of who He is. When you are intimate with God you are better able to understand His desires, His power and what He wants for/from you. It is only from this honest communion that He will give you the Holy Spirit to enable you to live righteously.
Of course, it’s all well and good telling you to consider change whilst offering no assistance, so here are a few ways to deepen your relationship with God that I personally have found useful:
- Listening to Gospel music in the morning.
This seems like such a small thing to do but is very impactful. When you start your day off with gospel, you are inviting God into your day and asking Him to walk with you. By setting your mind on the things of God in the morning, you are empowering yourself for the day ahead.
The first thing that should enter your mind in the morning is God and He is the first person you should converse with. Once you do this, anything else you do throughout the day becomes easier because you have strengthened yourself. Besides, if you happen to be so busy you don’t get a chance to get on your knees and pray that morning, at least you would have communicated with God in some form.
2. Go on ‘dates’ with God.
Set time aside in your diary for Him, be it weekly or bi-weekly, take 2-4 hours to just sit in His presence and be with Him. It doesn’t have to be constantly praying for 4 hours, but you can study the word for an hour, pray for an hour, listen to Him speak for an hour, worship, or honestly just sit in silence and shut the world outside off. God is peaceful, and if you struggle with the rest, just create the space for Him to at least talk to you. The list is endless.
30 minutes of prayer daily is good, don’t get me wrong, but long, impactful sessions are necessary to really build a bond with Him. Consider the amount of time you spend with you best friend. Would your relationship stand its ups and downs if you weren’t so involved in each other’s lives?
3. Study His word.
The bible holds the answer to virtually any question or problem you might be going through. We often spend so much time worrying and searching for answers or moaning that God is not speaking to us when all we need to do is read the word. To understand God deeper, to know His plans for you, how he wants you to relate with Him, how He wants you to relate with others etc. you need to read your bible. What people also fail to realise is that when you study the word for yourself you won’t have to rely so much on what other people claim God says about you or how He wants you to live, because you already know the will of the one who created you from His own words.
Hebrews 4:12 says
‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’
There will be things in the bible that will challenge you and convict you, but ultimately, it is a weapon of warfare that you can’t neglect. It has active meaning and is current and relevant today and will continue to be even 200 years from now.
4. Go to his house (church).
If you were in a romantic relationship, it would be odd if you never made the effort to visit the person. The same applies to staying away from God’s house. Paul urges us in Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together but to exhort ourselves. Nowhere in the bible does God say that we do not need to come together, rather, most of the New Testament is addressed to the church as a body as opposed to individuals, and Paul constantly urges us to remain as one body. God says that
‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there’ (Matthew 18:20)
therefore, we know that God is in the church so if you are seeking Him, it would make sense that the church would be a good place to start.
Saying you can’t go to church because of sinners is like saying you can’t go to the gym because of fat people
Whilst it is true that those in the church are not perfect and do make mistakes, in Mark 2:17 Jesus makes it clear that it’s not those who are healthy that need a doctor, but those who are sick. God’s house is for sinners who want to change. Saying you can’t go to church because of sinners is like saying you can’t go to the gym because of fat people or the hospital because of sick people. You’re just as sick as them and even if you’re not, you should be able to bear with the afflictions of your brethren rather than condemn them as hypocrites. The church is to edify and strengthen you. Do not forsake it.
Whilst there are a lot more tips that can help create intimacy with God, these are just a few, but most importantly, if you have the desire to become intimate with Him and you ask Him to help you, I guarantee you all the other things will to fall into place. The more time you spend with Him, the more the eyes of your understanding will be opened, and the desire to please the one you love will teach you what is right or wrong.