7 behaviors that will strengthen your relationship with God.

Who can you speak your unfiltered thoughts to?

Whether we admit it or not, each one of us needs someone to connect to.  When we find a person that will accept us, even after hearing our deepest thoughts, we work very hard to maintain and strengthen that relationship.  Whether it is a spouse or a friend, a need is met.  A need to be close to someone and to be understood.

I used to believe that this type of intimate relationship was only possible between humans, and certainly not with an unseen God.  But there is no sense in that reasoning.  Why would the creator of emotions and thoughts and needs not be capable of connecting to the people he made?

Over the past year or so, I have found 7 behaviors that have strengthened my relationship with God.  We've got to get past the Christian-talk and the cynicism.  A friendship like the ones we have in our lives on Earth is possible with God too.  I don't assume to know how close you are with God.  But I do know that these behaviors have helped me experience a personal God. 

1) Read the Bible.  
Ever wish God would talk to you like he did Moses or Paul?  He does every time you open the bible.  When we read God's word, we are on the receiving end of a conversation with God.  He is literally talking to us in written form. 

This is where God mentors us.  "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).  Just as we learn the character of a parent or friend through relationships, we learn God's character when we read the Bible.  Read one chapter a day, keeping within one book at a time.  This works for me, but it is not the only way.  I go into a little more detail in an earlier post - Desiring God's Word.  It doesn't matter how much you read; the strengthening comes from daily scripture reading.  

2) Talk to God.
To become better friends with God, we've got to talk to him.  Otherwise, we are not getting to know him.  That is the point of these behaviors - to understand and be understood.  Don't just pray when you're happy or sad or angry.  Talk to him like a regular human being.  Tell him about your day.  I know this may sound strange, but remember, you are developing the relationship.  

The Bible tells us to "not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer... present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6).  Talk to God daily.

3) Memorize Scripture. 
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he responded to each attack with scripture.  Our relationship with God is constantly under attack.  This is especially true when we start trying to develop the relationship.  Reciting memorized scriptures at moments of temptation of any kind will significantly wound the enemy and strengthen your relationship with Christ.  In that moment, you are telling God that you trust Him.  Think of how good it feels when someone tells you that they trust you.  

4) Take Timeouts from Life. 
This behavior is similar to prayer, but does not have to include prayer.  It is a time for you to be alone and to relax, even if for a few minutes.  Try to schedule timeouts during the busiest part of your day.  Your focus should be on one verse: "Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10).  Use this time to re-energize and remember that God is in control.  

5) Find an Accountability Partner. 
The concept of an accountability partner is something I have tried to avoid for most of my life as a Christian.  It can be difficult to trust someone enough to share your deepest feelings with.  But as I studied scripture, one verse in particular knocked those inhibitions down very quickly: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16).  God has called us to be relational and to confess to one another.  It's not about condemnation or judgment.  If you find or have an accountability partner that doesn't make you feel better about yourself after talking with him or her, find a new one.  To me, accountability means encouragement.

6) Go to Church. 
The people, not the building.  Weekly attendance at church has been a vital source of strength for my relationship with God.  It is refreshing to be around other believers.  But it is also biblical.  Even Jesus went to church every week. (Luke 4:16).  Hebrews tells of the importance of community: "Let us not give up meeting together..." A local church provides that opportunity to meet together and encourage one another.  

7)  Repeat behaviors 1 through 4 daily.  
You wouldn't stop talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife just after finding out each other's names and favorite colors.  Why do we do that with God?  He wants to know our favorite everything.  He wants us to tell him our thoughts and feelings.  Yes, He already knows them, but keeping it to ourselves doesn't develop the relationship.

The relationship you want with God is possible, but it won't happen without intentional behavior.  "Come near to God and he will come near to you..." (James 4:8).

What are more ways that you have found to add to this list? 


Derek said...

Dude, I love this post. I think that one that really helps me is service. It is something that I don't do enough of but when I do I can feel God. At our church the other day we were talking about service and that often times when we don't see fruit or see the impact we get discouraged and think that we were not used. But this is not the case. God hasn't called us to succeed in our service, He has called us to be faithful to Him. I think that this is so true. I have definitely had times when I wasn't able to see the impact and became discouraged because of that. I think it is important to remember that it is not about us succeeding, it is about us being faithful to what God has called us to do.

Evan Bell said...

Derek, this is so true. Definitely an area the devil does his best to keep us selfish in. I know what you're saying though. It's hard to explain, but you do feel closer to God after a service project or something that your sinful nature wouldn't guide you to do. Good one to add to the list.

Derek said...

You know I think it is different every time. I think it depends on my mindset. There have been times when I feel closer and times when I don't feel any different. The times when I don't feel any different it is definitely my selfishness taking control of me. It is difficult to explain but I would say that the majority of the time I do feel closer to God, but again, sometimes I have to remind myself that it isn't about me, it's about being faithful to Him. Idk, just a thought. What do you think?

Evan Bell said...

Yeah, I think that is true. The whole point of being Christ-like is to be others-centered. So when our mindset is not right (others-centered), we probably won't feel any closer to God, no matter what we're doing. It's easy to blog about what we're supposed to do and how we are supposed to act. Backing it up with action is the hard part.

Derek said...

I completely agree. I can talk and blog about it all day long. But when it comes to doing it, well thats another story. Glad to hear that I am not the only one that feels that way. I've enjoyed this post

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