Deepening your relationship with God often sounds like it should be easy, but it is difficult. Prayer can start feeling empty, and you may feel like you are traveling alone on your journey. You are not alone, but you may have grown distant from God. If you have, you need to find ways to get more God in your life and make time to focus on spiritual transformation. Here are some guaranteed ways to draw closer to your Creator.
Get AloneWhen you are around other people, it can be easy to get caught up in their lives. They all have stories to tell. You all have fun to share. You want to talk, laugh and make merry. You listen to their complaints, triumphs and trials. Such human connections are essential for your mental health, but if you really want to have more time with God, you need to set time aside for Him and Him alone.
When a relationship with a person is important to you, you make sure you have time that you spend with just that person. Your relationship with God is the same. Christian fellowship is important, but to really connect with God, you also need to spend time alone where you can simply think, connect or bask in the presence of God. Jesus and the prophets took such time, too. Christ spent 40 days in the wilderness. You do not have to go wander the Judean desert for 40 days or even spend long periods of time alone. Ten minutes every day spent quietly with God can make a huge difference, especially if you pair that with the occasional day or weekend spent away from distractions and focus entirely on God.
FastFasting does not simply have to do with skipping or limiting your food intake for a period of time. Fasting for spiritual reasons means deliberately choosing to strip your life of things that have power over you for a period of time. You might remove gossip, junk food, social media, celebrity news, electronics or makeup from your life. You could give them up for an afternoon, a week or a month. Both the sacrifice and the duration of the fast are up to you. The point, however, is to remove things that may be interfering with your ability to hear God or live as He calls you to live. If you get a cruel sort of pleasure watching celebrities melt down on live TV, stop watching it. From you, God wants kindness and compassion, not schadenfreude.
Raw PrayerMany people pray using the sort of prayers you find online, in prayer books or in devotionals. These are carefully and deliberately worded statements. Many of them are poetic and filled with beautiful prose. Even simply reading the words can move or inspire you. These prayers are wonderful, but sometimes they can begin to feel empty or rote. When you feel like your emotions or your soul has tied itself up in Gordian knots, lyrical statements that rhyme may not be what you need. You need to rant. You need to rave. You need to cry, scream and laugh all at the same time. Where is the prayer for that? In those moments, raw prayer will serve you best. It will also help you draw closer to God. Rather than relying on a middleman to find flowery words to give God, give Him your heart and unfiltered thoughts. Tell Him exactly what you think, feel or want. Open up your soul and share the good, the bad and the ugly. The point is not to come up with the sort of prayer that you would share with your mother-in-law if you were asked to say grace before a meal. The point is to speak directly to God. Here is where you bemoan your boss, admit to that crush you really should not have and scream in admittedly irrational rage. Do not hold back. There is, after all, no point in trying to act like everything is fine when all you want to do is turn the air blue. God already knows what you are thinking and feeling anyway. Stop pretending like He does not.
Confess and RepentThere was one perfect human being in history, and He was crucified in Judea 2,000 years ago. You are not Him, so stop pretending or acting like you are perfect. You are not. You know you are not. God knows you are not. Both of you know where you have sinned and missed the mark. Rather than trying to hide it or pretending that you actually did not lie to your wife about that golfing trip, confess to God. He already knows what you did, and keeping secrets, or trying to, is a surefire way to create distance between you and another person. The only way to convince yourself you have hidden your sins from God is to act like He cannot see you. This sort of attitude can become ingrained. You look up one day and realize you have pushed God away. Do not go on like that. Confess to your sins and repent. Turn back from what you did and begin living your life the way that God called you to live. You will inevitably fall short in the future. That simply means you need to confess again and try once more to make your way down the straight and narrow path.
SufferNo one likes to suffer. People like to be comfortable and happy. Sometimes, however, you will find that you are closest to God in your lowest times. After all, when everything else has fallen away, He is there for you. As the story goes, Christ will carry you in your hardest times.
You can also draw near to God through others’ suffering. When you reach out to others who are in pain or in need, you are doing the sort of work Christ calls you to do. He will be there beside you, and you will be able to feel His presence.
WaitPeople today are obsessed with getting a quick fix. They do not want to spend months eating healthy and exercising regularly in order to lose a few pounds. They want a week long crash diet or convenient pill. People do not want to work hard and save their money in order to buy a nicer car or home. They want someone to simply give them the money right now. The world, however, does not work like that. Things take time. If you want more God in your life, you need to be patient. The seeds that He has planted in your life will take time to grow and flourish. He has not abandoned you, but until you can be patient, you are likely to breeze right by the blessings and opportunities He has set in your path. Your timing is not God’s timing. Stop pretending that you can hurry the Creator along.
Look and ListenGod has a knack for using the people and events that would most often be overlooked to do incredible things. Jesus fed thousands of people with a few fish and bit of bread. Moses had a speech impediment but spoke powerfully to Pharaoh. Paul was a zealous persecutor of Christians who became one of the Church’s greatest heroes. God does not always leave neon signs over His presence or appear with thunder and lighting. If you want to spend more time with Him, you need to look for Him. He is likely far more present in your life than you think, but you keep walking right past Him.
Once you hear Him, you need to listen to what He says. It may seem self-explanatory, but people do not always like listening to God. He tends to ask things that are difficult or unpleasant of people. People would much rather remain comfortable or do things that will bring them personal glory rather than get down in the mud and follow God’s Will. You must, however, listen. If you feel like God has not been speaking to you, it might be because you did not listen to Him. He is always with you, but you might not get your next set of instructions until you actually follow the first.
If you want more God in your life, you need to make more room for Him. That means accepting the difficult parts of your life, the sins you have committed and the raw feelings that you may want to hide. God knows everything about you. There is no point in putting on a façade of holiness or perfection. Instead, trust that He will take you exactly as you are and will help you mold yourself into the person He has always meant for you to become.