This past week I met with a gal who is a Christian and attends church regularly, but has not continued to develop in her relationship with Christ. With much frustration, she asked questions like “How do I even pray properly? Why do I struggle with reading my Bible? How do I develop a discipline to spend time with God? Why don’t I hear from God?”. As I sat listening to her pour her heart out, I couldn’t help but see myself looking back at me.
I saw myself about four years after I had accepted Christ into my life and I experienced the very same frustrations. Initially after becoming a believer, I was on a “Spiritual High” and it was an amazing feeling. I was attending Church regularly, active in a Small Group, and volunteering. I was going through a lot of the motions and although they made me feel good, I would not say my relationship with Christ was “intimate”. I was not consistently spending time with Him through prayer or His word. Unfortunately, left unnurtured over time, we eventually lose that “Spiritual High” and crash. That’s what happened to me. A distance grew in my relationship with Christ and we eventually stopped attending church.
After being away from church for several years, I was driving to work one day and realized that God did have a much bigger purpose for my life. I turned in my letter of resignation that morning and began my journey to find God’s purpose for my life. I didn’t know what it truly meant to seek God but I knew I just needed to start with Him. Over the next five years of my journey, I began searching for answers to the same questions asked above and implementing them into my life. The following is a brief summary of the lessons from my journey that I shared with my new friend:
1. Seek God with all of your heart and soul. Seek Him through church. Seek Him through volunteering. Seek Him through a Small Group. Seek Him through His word. Seek Him through prayer. Seek Him daily. Seek Him right where you are at in your life. Just start seeking Him.
2. Find a more mature Christian mentor and a Small Group to walk alongside you. Having other Christians to share their struggles and their successes, pray for you, love you, encourage you, guide you and hold you accountable is crucial to your spiritual growth.
3. Learning how to pray was difficult for me and is difficult for a lot of people. Don’t be intimidated by hearing others pray beautiful well-spoken prayers. Be yourself. He doesn’t care how well you speak. Talk to Him like He is your best friend. Try journaling if it is more comfortable for you. Most of my prayers are through journaling. God just wants to hear from you.
4. There is no special place that you need to go to be alone with God. I have spent hours on Pinterest researching how to set up my own prayer room. But realistically in this season of life with four children, there is NO QUIET, SECLUDED place in our home. I most often get up early to do my devotions in our bedroom. When I don’t get up early enough, I do them sitting at the kitchen table, in the midst of our chaotic life. God knows the season of life I am in and He just wants me to meet Him “where” I can.
5. Make spending time in God’s word a priority. There are many book studies out there, many of them good studies, but they are not a substitute for His word. You can’t get much closer to Him than directly through His word. Before you begin to read, pray to God to open your heart and give you the wisdom to understand. You don’t have to be a scholar to read the Bible, you just have to believe. Look at it as your intimate time with God. It is just You, God, and His word. Don’t think you need to “study” it daily. Set aside specific days/times to study your Bible. Studying the Bible requires much more time and focus. Just start reading it.
I could discuss each of the areas above in greater depth (and probably will in future posts). But the main point is that the more you seek God, the more He will show up. I didn’t have to learn to be the best prayer warrior with the most eloquent words and a spectacular prayer room to start praying. I didn’t have to study and memorize my Bible to start spending time in His word daily. I simply had to just start. As you keep moving forward, you will become more confident and start to see habits develop. I have failed numerous times and will continue to fail. I just keep starting again. If you keep starting, God will keep showing up.