Do you enjoy God? I wonder if anyone has ever asked you that question before. Often we are asked if we are saved, if we love God, if we are willing to serve Him, obey Him, worship Him. But do you enjoy God? Do you enjoy worship? Listening to preaching? Bible reading and praying? Do you anticipate time with God, or do you dread it? Is it a delight or a chore?
My guess is that most of you would say, “Yes, I do enjoy God, but not like I want to.” But how does one go about enjoying God more? How do you go from “I want to delight in God” to “I delight in God?” There isn’t just some magic switch that can be flipped, or we would all flip that switch in a heartbeat! No, that’s not how our emotions and feelings work, so how do we go from “I have to spend time with God” to “I want to spend time with God”?
I’m going to give you 4 keys that I have found helpful in building a relationship with God. These are pretty basic, and they aren’t overnight fixes. But if you begin implementing them in your life, over time you will see a desire and love for your Savior grow stronger and stronger.
"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." –Jeremiah 29:13
Spoken to the nation of Judah before their captivity, the above verse captures the principle of intentionality quite well. Finding God requires a dedicated, heartfelt pursuit. It requires setting aside time daily and following through even when you don’t feel like it. Do you have a plan for your Bible reading? A place? A specific time? Do you search for God intensely, systematically, and faithfully?
Perhaps this sounds legalistic or fake to you. Whenever you insist someone plan out a regular time for God, the response is often, “Well, isn’t that a little rigid?” “After all, do our other relationships work like that?” To which I respond yes - yes they are. If a husband doesn’t plan out time for his wife and kids, does it happen automatically? Many divorcees would say not. How many friendships have drifted apart because someone was a text or a phone call away, but that text/call never came? Any relationship we have must be built intentionally, spending time with others even when we don’t always feel like it. We don’t call a husband hypocritical because he goes out with his wife, refusing to cancel their plans even though he’s tired - we call him committed. How committed are you to pursuing Christ?
"Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!"
The biblical term for this is repentance. So why not use the word “repentance”? Because I fear too often when we hear about repentance, we think of saying sorry for the bad things we’ve done, rather than viewing as asking forgiveness for being sinful. Rather than being honest with God about our depraved thoughts, ambitions, and desires. Transparency is a word that to us goes a little deeper, and I think catches the spirit of what God means when He says “repentance.” Opening up our deepest thoughts, heart motives, and being honest with God about the state we are in. Admitting we don’t love Him, and would rather watch TV than read our Bibles. Acknowledging we are envious of that Christian who gets a little more of the spotlight. If we are going to have a relationship with God, it’s going to start with us admitting the awful state we are in and then asking for His forgiveness and help. I think Tozer put this well when he ended chapter one of his book The Pursuit of God with:
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.”
I’m gonna say it. Prayer is hard. Prayer is awkward. A lot of people will say prayer is easy, that it’s just talking to God. And they’re right, but talking to someone you don’t normally talk to is awkward. Many Christians spend precious little time in prayer, so when they finally do come to pray before their King, they’re talking to someone they don’t really know all that well. So how do you overcome that awkwardness with other people? You talk to them.
Can you remember the first time you met your closest friends? Occasionally we hit it off really well with someone, but often we find that it takes time to get to know people, even those we now consider close friends. You sit there awkwardly, wondering what to say next. You’re nervous, and on edge. Small pauses feel like millennia. A fifteen minute conversation feels much longer. But now you can spend three hours together and not even realize it. How does this happen? Well, the more you spend time with someone, the easier it is to spend time with them. So how do you get to know God? How do you get to the point where prayer isn’t awkward, but natural? Where it’s not a chore but something you look forward to and need? By spending time doing it. That’s how every other relationship develops, and that’s how your relationship with your heavenly Father develops.
This is another one of those carefully chosen words. I could have said “Bible” or “Bible reading.” But neither of those go far enough. God doesn’t just want you to own a Bible or even to just read it, He wants you to meditate on it, memorize, and become so supersaturated with it that Bible thinking flows out of your every decision. He wants you to be so marinated in its truths that you see the whole world through Bible lenses.
“But I don’t know how to meditate!” Actually, you do. The secret to meditation is that you do it all the time. People are constantly thinking about something (unless you’re a guy, then you only rarely think about nothing). People think about their favorite TV series, books, sports, friends, video games, jobs, and of course, that special someone. We constantly have thoughts racing through our minds about all kinds of things, the trick is to learn to have Bible thoughts racing through our minds instead of what we’re going to say the next time we see him or her.
A good way to do this is to ask good questions when you study the Bible. Ask questions like, “What does this passage teach me about God?” “About man?” “How should what I’ve learned change the way I live my everyday life?” Consider taking a passage like Psalm 119 and study it thoroughly. Psalm 119 is a portion of the Bible all about how great the Bible is, and that makes it a great place to start if you feel like you need to love your Bible more! Finally, invest some money in Bible resources like dictionaries, study Bibles, or commentaries that will help you understand better what you are reading.
Probably none of these points were ground breakingly new for you. Hopefully they were stated in a way to make you think about them from a new angle, but most have probably been told “Plan out your time with God, ask His forgiveness, pray, and read your Bible.” So I guess the real point behind this post is that the secret to developing a desire for God is not all that secret. It’s doing the things we know we ought to do, consistently. It’s being intentional and transparent as we do what many have been told to do since they were kids. And it’s investing in our relationship with God, even when we don’t feel like it, because that’s how you build any relationship.
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