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July 2010 Your faith

12 ways to deepen your relationship with God

12 ways to draw closer to God

The Lord of creation invites you into a deep and intimate relationship with him. A living relationship characterised by love, joy, peace and the sharing of dreams. Michele Morrison offers some ideas to help you respond

Begin with humility  Jesus “made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7) because of you and me. He was selfless and vulnerable. So how do we throw caution to the wind and respond with equal passion? When we recognise that we don’t actually deserve our Saviour’s love, and we confess every dirty detail of our lives, the relief to discover that even so, he loves us truly, madly and deeply should be enough to slay self. And vulnerability? Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). Such obedience will draw the fire of the world, and that will strengthen your intimacy with Jesus, as you cling to him.

Read God’s love letter Read Song of Songs, understanding that it is all about you and God. Make it an event. Create ambience by lighting a candle and playing soft praise music. Hear his voice speaking tenderly to you. Hear his delight and his joy. Accept his protection and allow yourself time to respond. Linger as you would over a love letter.

Absorb his truths Never neglect your Bible, for regular immersion in its truths aligns your thoughts with God’s. Intimate friends anticipate each other’s reactions; as you study his Word, you absorb his thinking pattern, which transforms yours.

Share your secrets Friends share many moments of intimacy. I remember hours spent with my sister painting our toenails. Twisted like pretzels and focused on keeping red polish off white skin, our conversations would range from the frivolous to the secrets of our hearts. Practice the presence of God even in the mundane tasks of daily life. Dare to voice your thoughts. You’ll share secrets you wouldn’t during a formal prayer time.

Give and receive John’s Gospel describes how Mary poured her expensive perfume, and her un-self-conscious tears, all over Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. How intimate an act of love is that?! How can we replicate that action? After a time of confession, why not soak your feet in a basin of warm water and imagine Jesus’ loving touch on your tender toes? He washed his disciples’ feet, carefully removing every bit of dirt picked up from their walk through the world, and he’ll do it for you. Then prayerfully offer him a sacrifice of love, something that is costly to you. Be bold and lavish.

Enjoy his creation Having trouble feeling God’s nearness? Take a walk in the country. I am writing this at the height of a glorious autumn, and every time I walk amongst the vibrant colours I praise God. Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). Use all your senses. Pause to pick up the sounds of birds, of the wind, of animals; lift your face to the breeze and imagine God’s tender touch on your cheek; smell the gorse and the honeysuckle; taste the wild raspberries and brambles; feel the cold snow. Reflect on God’s incredible creativity. Let your heart swell with love for him, who knew you in your mother’s womb.

Take a walk with a friend If solitary walking is not your thing, how about an Emmaus walk? It doesn’t have to be seven miles, but make sure it is some distance to give you and a prayer partner time. Set yourselves a Bible passage to study, and then share your insights together as you walk. Just as he did with his friends on the road to Emmaus, the Lord joins you as you go – prepare for your eyes to be opened and your hearts to burn as never before.

Listen for the divine laugh One of the marks of friendship is a shared sense of humour – girlfriends giggle over silly things and couples chuckle at ‘in’ jokes arising from shared experiences. Do you ever share a laugh with the Lord? Be sensitive to the divine laugh and quick to join in.

Use your mind Love the Lord with all your mind by learning something new – computer skills, a new language, or a musical instrument perhaps. Depend on him to help you learn, improve and retain your new skill or knowledge. Music is especially rewarding to learn because it encourages heart to heart expressions of love, often enabling you to rest in the loving embrace of Jesus, and just be.

Share his pain Intimate friends share in each other’s pain. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings . . .” (Philippians 3:10). This is profound and demanding. It requires us to apply the mind of Christ (which is ours) to every issue, and speak out in accordance to Scriptural truths, never allowing political correctness priority over them. Focused on Jesus, we will experience a deeper level of intimacy as we depend on him. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first,” he said (John 15:18). He stands with us, and weeps. The light of Jesus through his tears creates a rainbow of beauty in which we stand.

Pray for others During your prayer times, step outside of your own petitions and into intercession. Use prayer guides from organisations involved in mission, supporting the persecuted church, involved in family, political and social issues, helping the developing world and reaching out to young people to target situations and issues. Intimate friends share each other’s burdens, so make sure you wait to hear what is on God’s heart, and pray it through.

Look for opportunities Moving out into practical ministry is a way of bonding with God, for you will often be confronted with situations outside of your comfort zone. How does this look? It can be pastoral, visiting the sick or hurting. It might be providing material needs for the poor. It may be going into a school to introduce kids to God, or stepping on to the streets to pray for healing for passers-by. God calls us all into challenging situations where we are vulnerable and need to rely on his strength, a growth point for greater intimacy. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

The Lord is the lover of your soul. Let him draw you deeper into him, and forge a bond of love that can never be broken.


 

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