Cultivating Relationship with God Through Spiritual Disciplines

How to Live the Christian Life

As people who have taken Christ’s name (Christian), we will desire to know Him more. We will want to cultivate relationship with Him, learning how to live in a way that pleases Him.

So how can we grow in our walk with God? First, it requires us to set aside time to learn from Him through His Word and live in obedience to Him. We must come away from the busyness of life to spend time with Jesus just as Mary of Bethany did:

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’”
– Luke 10:38-42 (NASB)

Mary sat at Jesus feet, listening to His Word. She actively invested herself in knowing Jesus and listening to His Word.

Like Mary, it is important for us to set aside other activities and make Jesus our highest priority. We can cultivate relationship with Him by engaging in activities that help us grow spiritually rather than create more distractions for us.

Setting aside our own desires and activities, we give God time in our daily schedule to meet with Him and read His Word.

We have to take time to pray, to silence our own racing thoughts to get to know His. We can make Him our focus, fasting from things that distract us from what really matters.

We are called to be disciples of Christ, positioned just as Mary was to partake of His instructions in the context of relationship with Him.

(For more on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, read this excellent article by Phylicia Masonheimer.)

Below are some relationship-building activities, often called spiritual disciplines:

Solitude: We draw near to Him by drawing away from other people and activities for a time to be alone with Him and engage in one of the other spiritual disciplines outlined below.

Silence, Listening and Prayer: We quiet our hearts in a time of silence to seek what He would say. We put our own requests aside to first start by asking Him what is on His heart for us or others, whether for us to rest in His love, to pray for ourselves or others as He leads, or repent for something His Spirit convicts us of.

Worship: We speak or sing to Him our “thank You’s” for giving His life for us, for caring for us, providing for us, healing us, etc. We sing praises and sing His Word to Him, as prayers or over ourselves to help our minds be renewed to think like He thinks.

Bible Study: We read our Bibles and ask the Holy Spirit to grow our relationship with God as we read His words to us. We ask Him questions about His Word and journal the impressions we receive from Him. We ask Him to use the Scriptures to renew our minds and show us the heart and character of Jesus so we can be transformed into His image.

Fasting: We fast a meal and instead use the extra time to spend with Him. Or we take a break from entertainment, social media and our phones, instead dedicating that time to Him.

Obedience and Service: We respond to the things He has spoken to us through His Word and by His Spirit–not because we have to but because of His love for us and ours for Him, obeying as He leads and serving others in partnership with Him.

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Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much of a priority does Jesus have in my life?
  • When was the last time I pulled away from all the “stuff” and simply loved on Him with no other agenda?
  • When was the last time I set aside my own requests, quieted my thoughts (even moving my phone to another room on silent) to see what He wanted to speak?
  • When was the last time I read my Bible and studied Jesus’ words with the help of His Holy Spirit?

As you practice spiritual disciplines such as prayer, solitude, worship and Bible study, engage actively with God. Seek to cultivate relationship with Jesus as your first goal in this life, letting nothing else have a place ahead of Him.