Many sermons, the Bible, and Christianity in general can be rather conceptual and metaphorical. There is nothing wrong with that, but I think sometimes it helps me to just have some straightforward examples of living life better, such as how to spend time with God. Growing up, “time with God” was just reading my Bible and saying some nightly prayers to help me in my life. It felt like work and something I should go do, rather than something life-giving that I want to do. I was around many people with theological and doctrinal knowledge, but rarely anyone that was teaching me to find God for myself in a deep relational way.
But today, my desires and perspective have greatly changed as I have seen breakthrough in my self and others around me. The common thread for any growth I have seen is the active intentionality that people take to spend time with God.
I have a hypothesis that if I could do a study researching people’s habits, I would find a direct correlation between the amount of effort spent giving God attention to the level of fruit in a person’s life (love, joy, peace, breakthrough, increase, etc.). I’m not trying to infer a legalistic way of looking at relationship, but here’s my point: If you want to bear fruit, in any area of your life, you have to be fully tethered to the vine. People who only put one foot in to the Kingdom do not position themselves to experience all that it has to offer.
“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
What Does Active Relationship With God Look Like?
Active relationship is not simply saying a one-time prayer for salvation and then expecting God to do nice things for us throughout our lives. Relationship without the “active” is just simply being related to him. There is no power in that.
What person wants a spouse that just signs a marriage certificate but then lives in another house and never talks to them? Unfortunately that is sometimes what we do as the bride – we expect God (our husband) to go to work and provide for us, only acknowledge His presence for 2 hours once a week when we decide to drive to His house (church), and let one of His friends (a pastor) tells us what He is like.
God’s original intent for humanity in the garden was active relationship. His intent with the cross was to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth and make a home in us through His Spirit.
I call it “active” relationship because relationship with God requires intentionality and action, just like any other relationship we have in our lives. The beauty of this unique relationship is that God is always active with us. His face is turned towards the righteous (1 Peter 3:12) and he “rewards those who earnestly seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6). This makes things really easy for us. All we have to do is face Him and He meets us there.
For me, turning my face to Him can look like getting on my face… like inviting Him into my daily activities even if it is something as trivial as deciding what groceries to buy…like stopping and asking God how he feels about a person or situation…like partnering with him on writing this blog post…
But on a daily basis, I love to grab coffee with Him. Seriously though, simple communion like I would with a friend is what I have come to treasure most about life. I think we can over-spiritualize our relationship with God too much to where it becomes so serious as we try talk to a divine being ambiguously somewhere up in the clouds. The most peace and joy in my life comes from grabbing a pen, writing some thoughts on paper, and letting him respond as I take a sip of hot bean water.
This process has opened a door in my life to invite God to come in and communicate to me. I found a two-way street that God wants us to stay on and want to keep walking down it. The journey has been fun but felt like I was trying to start up a struggling car in the beginning. Pushing through that struggle, I have found a few things that have helped me in my pursuit of God that I want to help outline for you to make things a little more practical.
Jesus says that “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If you spend enough time with someone you can blindly hear their voice across the room and know who they are. The same goes with our relationship with God. The more time you spend with him and practice hearing his voice the more natural it will be.
When I journal, whether I feel like it or not, I try to always leave room for God to say whatever He wants to me. If you want to grow in your musicianship, you have to practice whether you feel like it or not. Same goes for relationship. Love is sacrifice and persistence.
Trust God and Yourself
Here is the meat: If you have ever struggled to feel like you can hear God speak to you, I want to ask you two questions. Do you have enough faith in God for Him to make it clear to you what He needs you to understand? And do you have enough faith in yourself to be able to hear Him clearly?
You should be able to say yes to both.
I am not saying that it is always easy. Even lately, I have still struggled with the same answers, but the truth of the Bible demonstrates for us that we should be able to have that confidence.
For one thing, we have been given the mind of Christ and His Spirit resides in us. Your thoughts are either your own voice, God’s voice or the enemy’s voice. You have full power to be able to decipher between those. Most people constantly hear God’s voice whether they realize it or not, it just takes consciousness to recognize and trust it.
When I journal, I try to write down whatever comes to mind. The point is to not overthink it. If it is of God, it will resonate with your spirit and align with the Bible. If you are still really struggling with believing something you are hearing, God usually repeats things, so look for that. He does not want you to mess up. You are not perfect and you will not get everything right every time but he knows that. Just learn to trust Him to catch you, even if you do miss something. It is better to step forward into his will for you than to stay put, scared to believe anything.
Read His Word
This is obviously the most straightforward way of getting to know God, but can honestly feel slow moving at times. One of the most helpful things that I have found is to find a scripture, or multiple scriptures, that apply to my current circumstances and read it aloud every day. The enemy is going to try to flood your thoughts with as many lies as possible throughout the day, and unless we are digesting and developing an appetite for what God speaks we are going to snack on those lies.
I realize that everyone is in different life seasons and circumstances. Some of us have multiple kids with an incredibly busy job and feel like we can barely stay above water. I am currently not in that spot, but have worked incredible stressful jobs in seasons where I did not feel like I could give God an ounce of energy.
Here are a couple things I have found:
- Those are usually the times where we need to be making room for God the most. When we do not, we have found the greatest recipe for “burnout.” God is the source of peace and rest. We need him always, and especially when life is hectic
- If you care about something, you will make time for it. Love is demonstrated through an action – through sacrifice. If God is the most important thing in your life you, can wake up 15 minutes earlier and grab some coffee with Him.
Seek to Grow in Awareness
Our attention to a given object usually revolves around what we soak in daily. When I worked in the design/marketing industry, I could not help but subconsciously analyze every single logo, interface or product I came across. Working in music, I cannot help but think about the processing and songwriting of every little element when I listen to a song. If you have a significant other, you can probably be in a large room full of many people but still be subconsciously aware of your other half’s presence at most times, no matter where they stand.
In the same way, if we are intentional about pursuing God on a deeper level, our awareness of His presence in our daily lives will be heightened. Whether you are actively talking to Him or not, there is an open door for Him to speak to you and show you His character and will because you are aware of Him. You will begin to notice Him more and more in every detail of your life. It will be easier to see God’s beauty in a person even when they are not treating you fairly. It will be natural to look at the average or mundane with wonder. When this life ends, I simply just want to be known as someone who was deeply aware of God and helped other people be the same. That is where everything changes.
I hope this has encouraged you! Please comment below if you have any questions or thoughts on activating your relationship and hearing the voice of God.
You may also be interested in these posts as well:
- I’m a Worship Leader, But Why?
- Healing From Church Heartache
- Performance VS. Worship
- 3 Ways the Enemy Attacks Worship Leaders: And What You Can Do About It