With just a few weeks remaining in 2018, it’s that time where people reflect on the past year and form resolutions for the year to come. Most people will want to focus on getting fit, doing better in school, or becoming more popular. These things are all good and fine, I would like to get in better shape myself. This year, though, what if this year you took your resolutions further, deeper? What if you decided to focus on improving the core of your being rather than just desiring to look better on the outside. What if you decided to build a relationship with God?
Why Build A Relationship With God?
1.You Are Created For Relationship
Human beings were created for relationship. Don’t believe me? Take a quick peek at Genesis 1 and 2. During creation, God said everything was “good” until Genesis 2:18 (NIV), “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Human beings are creatures designed for relationship; relationships with friends, relationships with spouses, relationships with pets, and most importantly, a relationship with God.
2. God Knows What’s Best For You
God knows what’s best for you. As a human, you have no way of knowing or even comprehending what is best for yourself. How could you? You don’t know what possibilities the future hold for you or how each decision you make will impact those possibilities. But God does.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV), “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”
When you build a relationship with God, He will reveal His will for you. When you trust God and follow His will there is no longer a need to worry. There no need to fear whether things will work out, whether you’re making the right decision, etc.
3. God Can Make the Bad Things Good
Romans 8:28 (NIV), “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The life of a Christian is not all pie in the sky and angels playing harps. Serving God does not guarantee you a life without trouble. Serving God does mean that even when trouble comes, God can bring something good out of it. Part of this is because when you focus on serving God the troubles of life don’t seem all that daunting. You’re able to look at life from a new perspective and see things from a new point of view (Romans 12:2).
Five Ways To Build A Relationship With God This New Year
How does one build a relationship with God? It can be confusing, I’ll admit. How do you build a relationship with someone you can’t actually see? But it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, building a relationship with God really is like having a relationship with any other friend you have.
1. Build Your Relationship With God By Investing Your Time
You spend time with your friends, right? You go shopping together, watch movies, or sometimes just sit in companionable silence, but you spend time with them. Well, Jesus is your friend too and to maintain a relationship you have to spend time with him. Here are some ways to do this:
Dedicated Quiet Time:
One way you can invest time in your relationship with God is by setting a dedicated prayer and study time. All you have to do is simply choose a specific time each day to spend with God and then follow through.
If you’re a morning person like me, you won’t mind getting up a little early to spend your morning with Jesus. I love starting my day with prayer and Bible study because it puts me in the right mindset for the rest of the day. I also have the chance to reflect on what I studied throughout the day. Your quiet time doesn’t have to be in the morning though. It can be in the evening, during your lunch hour at school, or after band practice.
The important thing is that you dedicate the time to God each day. It doesn’t have to be some huge, complicated study either. It can be as simple as reading a five minute devotional and praying about what you learned. Right now I’m reading one chapter of the Bible a day and then using the SOAP study method to break it down and learn from it (more on that here).
Attend Church/Small Groups
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
In today’s day and age where there are countless sermons and teachings available at the click of a button, it may not seem too important that you make the time to attend church. But it is important. Making the time to attend corporate worship (church) not only gives you time to spend with God. It also connects you to a whole network of believers who can uplift and encourage you as you build your relationship with God.
Make Time To “Be Still”
Exodus 14:14 (NIV) says, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.”
This may seem odd, but I encourage you to take the time to simply be in God’s presence each day. Turn off your cell phone and the T.V., eliminate all distractions. Just take the time to open your heart and mind to God and be with him. I find that these are the times that I am able to hear God speaking to me the most clearly.
2. Build Your Relationship With God By Learning To Pray Strategically
Pray strategically, say what? I know it sounds confusing, but prayer is one of the most powerful weapons available to a Christian and it should be utilized fully. Take a moment to reflect on the last time you prayed. Did you really think about what you were praying or did you just mumble out a few needs to be met and go about your day? Don’t feel bad if it was the latter, I used to do the exact same thing.
1 John 5:14 (NIV) says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Start praying more specifically. The Bible is full of promises that God has made to you, his child. Find them and pray them over your life and lives of your friends! I’ve found it helpful to write down scriptures for each area of my life so I can easily refer back to them and be encouraged. You can learn more about strategic prayer here.
3. Build Your Relationship With God With A Grateful Heart
Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV) says, “Let them gives thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
Everyone likes to feel appreciated. I don’t know about you, but a small thank you is enough to motivate me to do my very best despite even the worst circumstances. When is the last time you told God “thank you”? Now, when is the last time you told God “thank you” and truly meant it? God has done so much for you; some things you don’t even know about!
This year, you can resolve to truly thank God every day. I do this by writing out one thing I’m grateful for each day and taking the time to tell God how much I appreciate it. The Bible study Planner I am using for 2019 (here) actually has a spot to list out what you are thankful for each day (along with spots for a daily SOAP Bible study and prayer/study trackers, sermon notes, etc.). I love writing down what I am thankful to God for because I am able to look back and reflect on them when I am discouraged.
4. Build A Relationship With God By Reading Your Bible Daily
Read your Bible every. single. day. I know, it’s easier said than done but it is so important. How can you truly have a relationship with God if you don’t know anything about him? The Bible is a Christian’s most valuable source of knowledge: knowledge of God, knowledge of life, and knowledge of eternity.
I struggled a lot with reading my Bible daily during high school. Primarily, because I had no clue where to start. Secondly, because I felt like I didn’t have the time. The solution I found to both of these issues is to follow a scripture reading plan. I followed one that led me through the Bible in a year by reading a selection of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs every day. It sounds like a lot but it never took me longer than 20 minutes. With this plan I never had to guess where to start while reading AND I knew for certain that I had the time. Here is a link to a downloadable PDF with the plan I followed.
There are my four New Year Resolutions for building a relationship with God! Will you be joining me? Do you have any other resolutions you’ll be doing?