A reader asked for help getting closer to Jesus. She didn’t turn away from her faith – and she attends church regularly – but she wants to build a stronger relationship with God.
As I brainstormed tips for rebuilding a relationship with God, I actually ran into a problem with Him. It was technically a conflict with my husband — I reacted with anger and frustration to something he didn’t even do. And then I held on to my resentment and bitterness for much longer than necessary (which is in fact zero seconds).
I realized that when I allow my anger, selfishness, pride, superiority and frustration rule over me, I treat people horribly. I may not be having a “huge fight” with God, but I’m sinning by creating distance between me and Him. I’m also destroying my relationships with my loved ones, and I have to rebuild broken bridges. So, I brainstormed these tips to help us get closer to Jesus, and even rebuild broken relationships with God — even if we haven’t been close enough to Him to actually have a fight.
What amazed me about getting mad at my husband is how directly and immediately it affected my relationship with God. I used to think “sin” was such an old-fashioned word, like “thee” or “thine.” But now I realize that sin is simply being disconnected and apart from God — and it’s not just the “big” observable sins that create distance. That’s why “sins of the heart” are so dangerous!
Hurting others — the big sins like cheating, lying, stealing — is the observable proof that your heart isn’t in the right place. But the internal sins — being jealous, bitter, unforgiving, judgmental, critical — aren’t directly observable. And they’ll create just as much distance between you and God.
4 Ways to Build (or Rebuild) Your Relationship With God
If you feel distant from God because of illness or a scary diagnosis, you might be interested in How to Pray a Powerful Prayer for Healing. But remember to always pray for God’s will in your life…not yours.
It’s hard reconnecting with God after you’ve strayed. It doesn’t matter why you strayed or what you did…rebuilding your relationship with Him can be humiliating and painful. And it’s not because God is mad at you, or rubbing your face in your sin. It’s because you’re proud, and you don’t want to admit you screwed up.
1. Be the puppy and let God be the Master
Imagine a week-old puppy. That puppy is too little to piddle on the floor because he can’t even walk yet! His eyes aren’t even open yet, and legs aren’t strong enough to hold him up. You pick him up to nuzzle his soft puppy head and feel his silky puppy ears…and he piddles in your arms. Pee pee everywhere, all over your arm and new silk shirt.
Are you mad at the puppy? Hopefully not, because he’s too little to realize what he did wrong. You potty train him and he stops piddling in your arms because now he’s older and knows to go pee pee outside. But what he has an accident in the house — will you rub his face in it? Will you yell and scream and kick him? I hope not.
2. Talk to God about going pee pee in the house
If the puppy comes to you and is sincerely sorry for going pee pee in the house, you won’t remind him of his past mistakes. You’ll clean up the mess and move forward in your relationship with him.
You are the puppy and God is the master. He just wants you to go pee pee outside, and not make mistakes in His house because that is the sin that creates distance between you and Him. He understands and forgives when you mess up. You’re not perfect, and Jesus knows it.
He just wants to build a strong, healthy relationship with you — and that requires you talking to Him about when you accidentally go potty in the house.
Building a relationship with God — and reconnecting with Jesus after a “fight” — involves communication. Then you and He go clean it up together. And you move on.
3. Allow God to take care of you His way
I have two dogs who try to tell me what to do and how much meat they think they should consume, but they’re wrong. I’m their master, and I know better than they do.
God is my Master, and He knows how much meat I should eat (almost none), how many walks a day I should go on (three), and where I should sleep (in my own comfy bed, snuggled with my dogs, cat, and husband). I don’t tell God how to run my life, even if I believe He’s saying no to the desires of my heart. I trust Him because I’m taking time to build a strong relationship with Him.
When I fight with Him (experience sin, conflict, distance), I try to come back as quickly as possible. I really do believe He’s working together all things for my good! It’s taken me 47 years to really, truly believe this in my heart. But I know it’s true, and I’m so excited to meet Jesus face-to-face one day!
4. Explore different ways to rebuild your relationship with God
I kinda went off track in this post, and didn’t give you a list of ways to get closer to God. Sorry, my friend! But the truth is that different things ways to build a relationship with God for different people. I love writing to Him in my journal every morning at 4:30 am. That doesn’t work for everyone. Even Jesus is bleary-eyed at that hour 🙂
You need to experiment with different activities and routines that work for you. You’ll know when you’re getting closer to God: you feel more and more compelled all the time to be with Him. You want to connect with Jesus because you’re filled with the peace, love, joy, freedom, and healing of the Holy Spirit.
You may find books on praying and building a relationship with God helpful. I’m currently reading Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller. He’s my favorite preacher and Christian author because he makes Scripture meaningful in practical, applicable ways. Keller has changed my relationship with God, and I listen to his sermons almost every day.
Learn different ways to pray — especially listening prayer. Don’t just talk to God…listen for His still small voice. He speaks every day, in big and little ways. Tune your ears, and you will hear Him.
Jesus will melt your heart if you give Him time and attention. He’ll be like a puppy, nestling into your heart and arms…but He won’t pee on you.
A quick list of ways to get closer God:
- Schedule a daily coffee, dinner, or other date with God. Show up on time, every time. Don’t keep Him waiting, because He’s never late!
- Realize that you will take your relationship with Jesus into eternity, forever. The closer you are now, the better your eternity will be. The echoes of your time on earth will ripple in Heaven.
- Know that a healthy Christian relationship with God involves periods of closeness and distance, ups and downs, silence and togetherness.
- Allow your relationship with Jesus to be led by the Holy Spirit. Learn what this means!
- Listen to sermons on podcast during the week, not just on Sundays. I listen to Tim Keller, Francis Chan, Colin Smith, and John Piper.
- See the Bible as God’s promise to you. Learn what this means.
- Take risks! Do things that scare you, that force you to rely on God to bring you through.
Finally, here’s one of my favorite tips for rebuilding a relationship with God: remember — with Him — your past. Tell Him stories about your life, remind Him of the way you and Jesus were. Reminisce with God, remind Him of the promises He made you. Tell
What have I missed? What tips would you give for building a relationship with God or getting closer to Jesus? Remember: Jesus couldn’t love you any more than He does right now. He isn’t judging you, nor will He want to review your mistakes, regrets, or failures. He just wants to be with you.
If you’re searching for God’s will, read 6 Practical Ways to Find God’s Call on Your Life.