I was talking with a couple guys last night about developing a relationship with God. I was telling them that it’s not enough just to say you “believe” in God. You need to give your life to him. Jesus gave his life for us, and if we really believe in him, we should give our lives back to him in return. But how do we do that in a practical way? What are some things I can do today (and tomorrow and every day after that) to come closer to God?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8,
Continue to ask, and God will give to you. Continue to search, and you will find. Continue to knock, and the door will open for you. Yes, whoever continues to ask will receive. Whoever continues to look will find. And whoever continues to knock will have the door opened for them.
In other words, show God that you are serious about him. Jesus is telling us to do our part in approaching God–ask, search and knock. God will answer us, but we need to take some steps toward him.
Here is a list of some practical things you can do to “ask, search and knock.” This is not an extensive list, but it will get you started.
- Pray. If you stop to think for a bit, you’ll probably be surprised how little you pray. Decided on a certain amount of time like 5, 10 or 15 minutes. As much as possible try to find a place to be alone with no distractions, open your mouth, and talk to God. You might not know what to say, but just start. You might stumble over you words, feel embarrassed or get self-conscious. Just keep trying.
- Read. God has given us the scriptures (also called the Bible). Start reading it consistently. I recommend a reading plan. I’m currently going through the “Four Streams Bible Reading Plan.” A good plan to start with might also be the “First Steps Reading Plan” (https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/14-first-steps-reading-plan). Whether you follow a prescribed plan or not, try to read every day.
- Don’t just read the Bible–do what it says. James 1:22-25 tells us: “Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked. But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard.” You might not everything about God or about the Bible (neither do I), but obey what you do understand. Some said that you have to walk before you can run. In other words, start by obeying the simple things that you do understand. You’ll grow and become stronger over time.
- Find people who are also genuinely seeking Jesus. Asking, searching and knocking is difficult work. Being around other people who are also actively seeking to follow Jesus will help you. God didn’t intend for us to learn everything on our own. Don’t be so proud that you can’t learn from others. So find some people. It could be in a church, a prayer meeting or simply some friends that you know.
- Stop doing what you know is wrong. You say you believe in God, but are you doing wrong? That’s called sin. The Bible commands us to “stop doing wrong; learn to do right” (Isaiah 1:16-17). If you are truly serious about having a relationship with God, then you have to stop doing what God says is wrong. “Believing” in Jesus is not a mind game–it should affect your body, your heart, your soul and your choices. You can’t say you have a relationship with God and continue to live life your own way.
(Above image courtesy of blenheimbible.com)