Category Archives: Intimacy with God

Inspiring greater pursuit of friendship and connection to the heart of God.

How to Truly Live the Christian Life

The Christian life is often very busy, isn’t it? Activity after activity fills the calendars of churches and the agendas of our lives. It can sometimes seem to gravitate to more and more doing, serving and doing some more.

Even our times of prayer–whether together or alone–can veer off from proper focus. For example, instead of first asking the Lord what He might want us to pray, we launch straight away into prayer based on what comes to our minds or is gnawing at our hearts.

Our activities are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. They can, however, help or hinder our Christian life.

The key to knowing whether they are helping or hindering is what or who are we connected to as we do these activities. Are we engaging in activities that truly build our relationship with Jesus and living for His glory?

Everything in our lives as Christians should flow from the intimate place of partnership and communion with Jesus, not the other way around. He is not only our Savior but our Lord and we want to seek His heart and thoughts rather than doing our own thing. We can’t come to know Him or His will if we do not make time to know and hear His voice, being in His Word and allowing His Spirit to lead all of our lives.

Relationship with God and loving Him must be first place in our lives, even when it comes to all else that relates to our sanctification and furthering His Kingdom.

We want to make our first aim to build friendship with Jesus above all. God alone is the source from which everything else in our life as a Christian flows. Without Him, we cannot truly bear good fruit or choose to live out godliness to the full. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (NASB)

Imagine this: You’re married. You love your spouse and do lots and lots of stuff for them; however, you never stop and ask them what they actually would like or you don’t actually do life together in partnership as one. You would both be living your lives, but not in a very connected way like a branch would be connected to its vine. How would that work for years of marriage? You probably get the picture now.

Friendship with God is far more than simply checking things off our “good Christian” list. He is our Creator who is Father, Savior and the Lover of our souls. We are called children of God, the Bride of Christ, not workers but lovers. In this, we are invited to learn from Him. He invites us to walk out our lives in partnership with Him as our Head or Leader, teaching us in His ways of life and love.

“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, emphasis added)

As those who have taken His name–Christian–when we made Him our personal Savior and Lord, we should desire to know Him more and do life His way. We need this time to learn how to live in step with His Spirit in our day-to-day lives. This is the “good part” that Jesus speaks of to Mary.

Without attempting to cause you confusion: Mary actually was doing an activity. However, this activity was one of relationship-building and discipleship. She was investing in her relationship with Jesus, to know Him and His ways as she took time away from other activities to listen to His Word.

Like Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, there are certain activities we can engage in to help build our relationship with Jesus. Just as a husband and wife would talk together to grow closer and know what is on each others’ hearts, we are called to know our King. 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. (Is this new to you? For more on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, read this excellent article by Phylicia Masonheimer.)

Several of these relationship-building activities include spiritual disciplines such as:

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 or our phones and dedicate 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.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much of a priority do I give knowing Jesus in my daily 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?

Make it your aim to grow your relationship with Jesus as your first goal in this life, growing in intimacy with Him and learning to walk in His ways. From that place alone, let all other activity flow.

Squashing Religious Hindrances: The Ragamuffin Gospel (Book Review)

Far too often the truth of God’s grace has been polluted with legalism, rules and religion, hindering the children of God from the fullness of a life-giving, intimate relationship with their Creator-Father, from receiving the acceptance and love purchased for them by Christ on Calvary.

I recently read a book that helps fight against this battle which so often hinders one’s relationship with Christ and Father God. This book, The Ragamuffin Gospel by the late Brennan Manning, is a must read book that brings us back to this central truth of the Gospel of grace. Continue reading

Preparing to Pray: Organizing Your God Time

How we prepare for time with Jesus can affect the quality of that time. Our pre-prayer preparation matters, in both posturing our hearts and preparing a place and plan. In this article, I share about the practical side of organizing our daily devotional time.

These tips require us to plan ahead. Don’t wait until a few minutes before your quiet time, but ready everything beforehand. Continue reading

Living a Lifestyle of Prayer, Part 4: Connecting with God Throughout the Day

If you haven’t read Part 1-3, don’t miss out.

Living a lifestyle of prayer is cultivated through spending undistracted time alone with God each day. It also means continuing to fellowship with Him throughout our day. We can keep abiding in Christ throughout the day, abiding in His love.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 (NKJV)

How can we walk this out?

It’s as simply as turning your thoughts and heart to God for 3-5 seconds at various times throughout the day. This could be at the top of each hour, on daily breaks at work or school, or when switching between tasks. These seemingly tiny moments throughout each day can help us build our connection with God on even the busiest days.

The psalmist expressed, “Seven times a day and all day long do I praise You because of Your righteous decrees” (Psalm 119:164 AMPC).

Tip: Set daily reminders on your phone to “connect up with God” to get a jump start on this practice.

Every moment can become an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus if we use it. We can take short moments to give praise, thanks and prayer to the Lord throughout our days.

As we stay faithful to engage with God in this way, talking to Him daily will become our new normal. Read on for ideas for what to do when connecting with God in these short moments.

Practical Ideas for Quick Connection Moments with God

1. Express thanks or love to God.

Example: “Thank You for revealing Your kindness to me” or “I love Your ways of kindness in how You correct me.” You can say this to God in your mind/heart if other people are nearby.

2. Pray for yourself.

Example: “God, help me follow Your Spirit’s leadership today” or “Father, show me more about Your love for me.”

3. Pray for someone else.

Example: “Father, our manager seems to be having a stressful day. Release Your strength and peace to him. Reveal Your joy to him despite any challenges before him.”

4. Speak, pray and meditate on a Scripture verse.

Walk It Out: Make note of a Scripture in your quiet time, or from a song or sermon you’ve heard. Ponder (meditate) on the words or theme, talking to God about it. Paraphrase it into your own words and think of other related verses. Pray it over yourself. Pray it for someone else or share it with them as an encouragement via text, email or in person.

5. Make use of waiting and travel time.

Walk It Out: On your commute, sing or pray to the Lord (when you can do so without being distracted if you are the driver). If you are using public transportation, listen to teachings or other messages through headphones.

6. Pray for the people around you or connected to items near you. Pray for those who will purchase goods or services offered at your business.

Walk It Out: Pray silently for those around you as you wait in long lines. Pray for product manufacturers, farmers, transport drivers, those mentioned in the magazines (no need to read them, God knows who they are!)

You could pray something like this: Father, bless each person here–customer and employee alike–with a heart to know You. Let all who take part in this business know they matter to You. Release dreams, divine appointments and encounters with You to those who need relationship with Jesus, that they might come to know Your love and truth.

The Lord loves to fellowship with us in our daily quiet time and to be involved in our day. Enter more deeply into the journey of walking and talking with Him as much as you can. Keep turning your attention to Jesus, pressing through distractions and the mundane day-to-day. He loves to do life with you, beloved!

Living a Lifestyle of Prayer, Part 3: Connecting with God in Prayer

If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Below are ways we can connect with the Lord in prayer as we seek to grow in intimacy with Him. These include devotional prayer, intercessory prayer, pray-reading God’s Word, and praying in the Spirit. Each has its place in living a lifestyle of prayer.

1. Devotional Prayer

Devotional prayer focuses on our own spiritual growth, needs and refreshing. In simplest terms, it is engaging God in conversation about our relationship with Him and growing in Christlike character and actions. Continue reading