As scary and intimidating as it may sound, cultivating a better relationship with God does not have to be intimidating. It is often those small, consistent steps in the right direction that will lead you to your end goal. What I know to be true is that a real, authentic, and personal relationship with Jesus is the foundation of everything that I write in my blogs. In other words, in order to walk into the full manifestation and to receive the God kind of results that I so often talk about, you have to have the God that I so often talk about first. You cannot know how to be led in your relationship if you do not know the One who leads. You cannot be found by the one if you do not know the One who brings the two of you together. You will never know your true worth if you do not find it in the One who gives it to you. Do you see where I am going here? All roads lead back to Jesus. And it is so important that you are not just seeking His hand. God sees our heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) So if our motives for coming to Him is to find a husband or anything else besides wanting a true relationship with Him, then we will not get very far. It is ok for the goodness of God to be our EXPECTATION because we know that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6), but it should never be our REASON. The good thing is, we can always pray and ask God to show us our heart and our motives and to help us to change. Philippians 2:13 says “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. (NLT) I use this scripture every time I pray about something I want to change in me because it lets us know that not only does God give us the desire to do what is right, but He also gives us the power to actually do it. All we have to do is receive and walk in that truth.
That being said, one thing that I love is that we are all at different places in our lives spiritually. Some of us have been in the faith for years, and others for months. Some were believers at one point in time, but they sort of fell off and are trying to rebuild their relationship with God. Some have not even begun their journey or only know of God but don’t quite know God for themselves. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it’s ok. The beautiful thing is that we are all running our own unique individual race, and the best thing we can do is stay in our own unique, individual lane while fixing our eyes on Jesus. For He is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). No matter where you are in your walk with God, I think it is safe to say that none of us have arrived, and that we could all benefit from a bit more intimacy with Him. For this reason, I want to share with you 10 practical things that you can do to grow closer in your relationship with God. You can try one or try all, it’s up to you. All I know is that God promises that as we draw near to Him that He will draw near to us James 4:8). So as you begin to take more steps in the right direction toward Him, I am positive you will begin to see Him show up more and more in every area of your life. You can use them to refresh a relationship with Him that may have grown stale or jumpstart a relationship that you wish to begin. Let’s go!
Fasting is when you abstain from food/and or drink for spiritual purposes (although fasting can include other things nowadays such as social media, television etc). Eventually, what happens is the time you would normally use to eat and drink, now becomes a time for prayer and/or the reading of the Word. You basically free up more time for devotion and giving your attention to the things of God. You are also denying your fleshly body (carnality) which in turns gives your spirit more of an opportunity to dominate. Fasting is one the most powerful and often one of the fastest ways to cause things to happen here on earth. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast the unclean spirit out of a young boy in Mark Chapter 9, Jesus replied, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29). Jesus, Himself knew all about fasting. After all, when He went into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights going without food, and we all know the result of that. He came out full of power ready to begin His earthly ministry (Matthew 4).
People often believe that fasting moves the hand of God when in actuality, fasting moves us. And it is through the changing and realigning of some things in us that God is able to move and make things happen in our lives and in the world around us. I remember the very first time I fasted. I really had no idea what I was doing. All I know is that I was in need of a miracle, and I was willing to try anything. I did what is called a Daniel Fast where I was only allowed to consume fruits, vegetables and other things that grew naturally in the earth. This may not seem like much nowadays especially with the growth of the vegan movement, but back then it was a HUGE deal (especially for me). I had never done anything like it, and apparently God recognized my sacrifice because He came through in a major way. My fast lasted the entire span of the lent season which was over 40 days, but God ended up granting me what I was praying for well before it was over (I continued to fast though). Shock and awe are not even enough to describe the state I was in. I laughed, I cried, I thanked God, praised Him and cried some more. He really did do exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or think. What’s even better than Him answering my prayer though is that ever since that fast, my life really was never the same. See, at the time I did the fast, I was not living completely for God. I had known Him as Savior, but not Lord over my life. I was still doing all types of worldly things including having premarital sex, clubbing, excessive drinking, etc. (I abstained from all of these for the fast though which was also a huge sacrifice for me). After the fast, even though I went back to those things for a period of time, something was different. I got convicted more easily and it was not as easy for me to participate in all of those sins as it was before. Eventually, the Lord drastically moved me away from my hometown (you can ready about that here), and 6 months later I gave my life to the Lord for real for real. He radically saved me and in an instant all of those sins that had me bound were completely gone. I was free. I was able to abstain from sex until God sent me the man of my dreams and we only knew each other intimately once we got married. One simple yet powerful act-the act of fasting, was the thing that I very strongly believe spawned every other one of these events.
There are many different types of fast. If you want a really good resource I would highly recommend the book Fasting by Jentezen Franklin. I didn’t have this book when I did my initial fast, but I have used it for subsequent fasts. It has been very instrumental in understanding different types of fasts, and the purpose of fasting, and it also provides great encouragement by showcasing different stories and testimonies regarding people’s fasting experiences.
Speaking fast, if you want to kick off your 2018 right, join me in a 21 Day Fast Jan 8th-28th 2018. Click here for more details and to sign up.
I may be a bit bias since I’m a blogger and all, but I love expressing my thoughts through writing. I am usually much better at articulating with a pen and paper (or keyboard) than I am at speaking out loud. Whether or not you’re the same way, journaling is a great way to express yourself to God. I usually start my journal entries with “Dear Daddy” (referring to God) and just write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it’s things that I’m struggling with. Sometimes I just want to thank Him. Sometimes it’s questions I may have for Him. Sometimes it’s a revelation I received from reading the Word. Sometimes it turns into prayer. Whatever you decide to write is completely up to you. There are no rules. This is just another form of communication between you and God. It’s also helpful for those times when you can’t necessarily get any privacy to go away and talk to God on your own such as when you’re on vacation with family. You will find journaling to be very freeing, and it will also bring you more clarity on situations. On several occasions, God has spoken to me right in the middle of writing a sentence. He honors any time that we devote to Him and journaling is a creative way to do just that.
3. Go to church (regularly)
I know this is a no-brainer for some, but like I said we are all in different places on our walk with God so for some, the idea of going to church may not be so obvious. I know there is a trend occurring nowadays where people are straying away from going to church and opting to just stream church services or just go at this thing alone, but that is a huge mistake. There is a reason that Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to not forsake assembling together as believers. Here is that verse in the NIV: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” There is something that happens when believers get together. We are able to encourage one another and help each other run our race. Sometimes we get weak and need an extra push, a friendly reminder, or a testimony from a sister or brother to help get us through. I can’t tell you how many times my breakthroughs have come from something a sister in Christ has did or said or how many times a question I may have had for God was answered through the man of God in the pulpit.
I understand that people have many reasons for why they may not be attending church, but none of them are worth your progression in God. I know that church hurt is real, that church shaming is real, and that some preachers are not who they claim to be at all. However, Jesus is real and we have a responsibility to gather together to worship, hear His Word, and fellowship together as believers. So if the church you used to attend isn’t working out for you then do your due diligence to find one that will suit your needs. All churches are not the same. All preachers are not the same. All church people are not the same. Pray and ask God to lead you to the proper church where He sees fit for you to be planted. He will direct your paths and lead the way if you allow Him. No more excuses.
Note* Romans 10:17 says that “Faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the Word of God”. Faith is a leaky substance. Meaning even if you’ve heard the Word before and even if you got full of faith off of it, you still need to constantly put yourself in a position to hear in order to keep your faith up. If you’re running low on faith then chances are you need to expose yourself to His Word on the particular subject that you’re believing for. So even when you can’t necessarily get to church, it’s important to stay full of His Word through the many resources available to us today such as podcasts, YouTube, the Bible app and more.
4. Go on a weekly date with Jesus
Ok don’t think I’m weird or anything, but I used to go on dates with Jesus all the time when I was single. I don’t have as much time to do so now, but I still try to squeeze them in from time to time. I would get dressed up as if I’m going on a regular date and spend some QT with my Lord and Savior. A few examples would be the park, out to lunch or dinner, or even a movie night at home This is a good idea for anyone who may struggle with having an intimate friendship with God. It takes you out of the traditional, systematic way of doing things and gets you into the habit of talking to God as if He is right there with you because the truth is: He is. If you’re in a really public place and you don’t want to seem crazy (lol) you can also bring a journal (see #2) to write down your thoughts and things you hear from God. Just like married people should go on regular date nights or date days, it’s important for the believer to be intentional about their relationship with Christ by connecting with Him on a regular basis as we are His bride (Ephesians 5).
5. Listen to praise and worship music
Sometimes drawing closer to Jesus isn’t even that deep. Sometimes we just need to purge ourselves of some of the things we’re watching and listening to and replace it with something more edifying. It helps us to think better, to gain more clarity and to hear from God more. Put in some headphones or a bluetooth speaker (there’s just something about headphones because you hear the music clearer and it seems to touch you more. Or maybe it’s just me) and blast your favorite gospel, praise or worship music. If you’re not in the middle of your room on your face, tears forming and snot falling then you’re not doing it right. Stay right there until you are able to feel the manifest presence of God. Believe me, He will show up. He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and we were created to worship Him. Some of my greatest breakthroughs were birthed in the privacy of my home right in the middle of worship, not at a church or a conference.
6. Get an accountability partner
If you want to take your journey with God seriously then you need an accountability partner. This is a person who you trust that will hold you accountable in your walk with God. You have to be able to trust them because if they need to tell you about yourself then you are going to have to know that their motives are pure, their heart is in the right place and their love for you is genuine. If you do not know this for sure then it may be hard for you to receive from them and the relationship will not be effective. Find someone who you are not going to have a hard time being honest with and someone who you will not feel judged by, but who does not mind lovingly correcting you if needed. Generally, accountability partners are on the same or similar levels spiritually so that they could hold each other accountability and journey together, but this is not always the case. An accountability partner can also be a mentor, spiritual mother, pastor, etc. Some of the things you may use your accountability partner for include checking in on you if you are struggling with an addiction in a certain area, being a sounding board if you find yourself in any difficult circumstances, checking in on you in you are going out on a date to make sure you’re back home at a decent time and not doing anything crazy, checking on you if you stop attending church for any reason as well as a host of other things. We all need someone because no one person is an island, and we are all better when we are doing life together. It would be very challenging if you were trying to draw closer to God without friends or people who were on the same path as you. It’s not impossible, but having it certainly makes the journey easier and more enjoyable.
7. Read your Bible every single day
This may be another no-brainer, but again we’re all in different places spiritually and even the most mature believer can struggle to read their Bible every day. Psalm 119:105 says :Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. The more you read God’s Word, the more things in your life will become illuminated. The light of His Word has the power to do miraculous things in our life, especially draw us closer to our Creator. Jesus Himself is the Word (John 1). There are so many resources that we have access to nowadays right at our fingertips. I am especially fond of the YouVersion Bible app which includes free devotionals and Bible plans on almost any subject. There really is no excuse not to read your Bible every day.You just need to purpose in your heart to make the time and do it.
8. Write scriptures on sticky notes and post them around your house
Now this does not count as reading your Bible every day (you want focused, quality time reading, studying or meditating on the Word) but this is a very helpful tool to improve the quality of your spiritual life. That’s because if we have scriptures actually posted or in our face, we’re more likely to think about God or react differently when situations and circumstances arise. That’s why I suggest posting them in places you frequent such as mirrors, the bathroom, the refrigerator, etc. I personally had sticky notes virtually everywhere in my apartment when I was going through a really tough season financially. I needed to trust God wholeheartedly. So I posted scriptures that really spoke to my spirit and my situation and it helped to keep me grounded. I would often recite them out loud when I passed by one or if I was having a tough day. It really is a great exercise to try no matter where you are in your relationship with God.
9. Get rid of something in your life that you know is hindering you or separating you from God
You cannot grow close to someone if there is a wedge in between the two of you. No matter what efforts are made to draw closer by either party, if there is something there, it will no doubt get in the way of full intimacy. For some of us this may be an egregious sin and for others it may be as simple as a bad habit. For others, you may need to get rid of a person or a relationship that is not edifying. Whatever that thing is that you’re thinking about right now, that’s it. Just do it, don’t even think about it, just get rid of it and watch your relationship with God, and your life in general take a turn for the better.
10. Pray more
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing. I now truly understand the need for this. And as simple as “pray more” seems, many of us fail to make it a priority. Prayer is communication with God. It is an opportunity for us to partner with Him in order for His will to be done here on earth. If we’re not doing it, then how will His will for our life ever take place? It’s not going to happen because you posted an IG post saying it will. It will not happen because you wrote it down on a piece of paper. It will happen because you prayed and asked God and you believed Him. The more you communicate with God, the more you will know Him. The more you know Him, the more you will want to know Him. The more you hunger and thirst after Him, the more you will be filled. You will also be able to know His voice and hear Him more clearly because you have been in communication with Him. That is what we call relationship.
Bonus: pray in the Spirit
Ya’ll this is a game changer. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that praying in the Spirit (or speaking in tongues in this context) has changed my life for the better and has super charged my spiritual life. If you are not sure what being filled with the Holy Spirit with the Bible evidence of speaking in tongues is, feel free to send me a message via the contact form on my website or DM on IG. This may be the missing link you have been looking for and the key to a richer more full spiritual life.
I pray this post provided you with some helpful tips and resources. As we enter 2018, my prayer is that you would come to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
Happy New Year!
Still Hidden in Him,