Updated: Jul 14, 2022
I want you to think for a moment about your closest friend. How did you two get so close? Chances are, you both were intentional about spending quality time together. I'm sure you had intimate conversations that drew you all closer, and you turned to one another in times of need. Doing these things with most relationships will, more often than not, cause it to grow.
Now, I want you to think about your relationship with the Lord for a moment. There's a temptation to think of it in different terms, but at the end of the day, it’s still a relationship. While it is different from any other relationship we have, in many ways it still works like our other relationship(s). If we intentionally spend quality time, share our life with the Lord and other believers, and be obedient to his word, our relationship with him will grow. On the other hand, if we are not intentional in doing things that draw us closer to the Lord, we will have a shallow relationship with him at best and, at worst, allow it to fizzle out altogether.
Why Grow Your Relationship with the Lord?
The Lord desires for things to reach their full potential and flourish. It is no different when it comes to our relationship with him. If it has the potential to be great, then intentionally growing it will get it to that place of greatness. I don't know about you, but I desire to have the closest relationship with my Lord as possible. I want my most important relationship to reach its full potential.
We can look out in nature and observe this concept. A seed has so much potential, but if it never gets planted, it won't have the opportunity to grow and be all God designed it to be. On the contrary, if you plant the seed into the ground and tend to it properly, it will naturally grow. Its roots will go deeper into the earth, and its branches and leaves will flourish above ground. It is the same for our relationship with the Lord. If we "tend" to our relationship with Christ, it will grow and reach its full potential. And this should be a desire for any growing true disciple of Jesus. We should want to grow our relationship with the Lord so that WE can reach our full potential.
Now that we know why we should grow our relationship with the Lord let's look at how we go about doing that. Here are five simple ways we can grow our relationship with the Lord.
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12 ESV
Relationships grow through effective and consistent communication. We can't expect our relationship to grow with the Lord if we never carve out the time to commune with him. The gift we have been given to communicate with the creator of the universe is prayer.
Prayer can have many definitions, but simply put, it is communicating with God. In prayer, we thank and praise God, lament, make requests, intercede, and listen. The more we spend time with the Lord in prayer, the more we intentionally communicate and share our life with him. In prayer, we speak, and he listens, and he speaks, and we listen. The Lord desires to hear our innermost thoughts and our greatest needs. As we share these things with him in prayer, he will, in turn, share his thoughts and desires with us, and intimacy will develop.
Strong communication is a necessity for growing our relationship with the Lord. So be sure to carve out time in your day to get alone with the Lord in prayer.
2. Read/Study The Bible
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB
What a gift we have in the word of God! The Lord has given us a book of inspired words that point to him. As disciples of Jesus, we don't just read the Bible because it's the "right" thing to do. Rather, we read it because of the One who is behind the words. The Bible reveals who God is to us.
Growing a relationship calls on us to get to know the other person. What better place to get to know who God is than in his word. If we want to grow our relationship with the Lord, we must spend time with him in the word of God. The scriptures speak of him and show us how to be in relationship with a Holy God.
I encourage you to carve out time each day to read and study the Bible. Engage with the scriptures by asking questions as you read, and be intentional in finding the answers to those questions. Your relationship with the Lord is bound to grow when you read/study his word because you are getting to know his character and his will for your life.
3. Get Planted In A Church
"The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God." Psalm 92:12-13 ESV
Many Christians go throughout life without reaping the benefits of being planted in a church. Psalm 92 says if we are planted in the house of the Lord, we will flourish. We will flourish in every area of our lives, including our relationship with the Lord.
When we decide to plant ourselves in a church, it’s no longer just about going to church. No, we are looking to use our spiritual gifts to serve in some capacity, enabling the church to be built up. We are looking to gather with our brothers and sisters and participate in corporate worship. A disciple that has planted himself in a church is looking to receive challenging words and apply them to his life.
Planting yourself in a church allows you to grow your relationship with the Lord because everything being done should point you back to Christ. From worship, to the sermon, to giving and receiving encouraging words, to spiritual accountability, all of these things are gifts from God that draw us into a more intimate relationship with him.
To learn more about this topic check out the blog I wrote on it!
4. Pursue Godly Friendships
"He is your friend who pushes you nearer to God" -Abraham Kuyper
Friendship is a beautiful thing. Two people join together with common interests to share life experiences. While it has its share of challenges, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
God hasn't called any man to be an island. He has called us to be in community with other believers. A part of us being in community is allowing ourselves to pursue godly friendships. When we pursue godly friendships, we invest our time in relationships that bring us closer to the Lord. We don't wait for others to pursue us, but we intentionally take the initiative to build the relationship.
A godly friend will push you toward the things of God. They will challenge you in your faith, comfort you in hard times, encourage you when you are feeling low, hold you accountable, give wise counsel, and love you when you feel unlovable.
Godly friendships are truly a vital part of the life of a disciple. We can look at Jesus and his 12 disciples to see that he saw the importance of pursuing godly friendships. He invested in the 12 and called them friends (John 15:15). It would behoove us to do the same.
5. Yield To The Holy Spirit
"And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." Luke 22:41-42 ESV
So far, we have looked at four ways to grow our relationship with the Lord; praying, reading/studying the bible, getting planted in a church, and pursuing godly friendships. The fifth way ties them all together because if we don't learn to yield to the Holy Spirit, doing the other four things will be in vain.
When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we submit ourselves to him. We are giving up our will and subjecting ourselves to the will of the Lord. Jesus constantly prayed, studied the Scriptures, was in the synagogues, and pursued godly friendships, but he also yielded to the Holy Spirit in all things. Doing this drew him closer to the Father and will do the same for us.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for the cup to be taken from him. That was his will. But with the next breath, he yielded to the will of the Father by saying, "nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42 ESV). When we yield to the Holy Spirit, that is our way of saying, "Lord, I choose you over anything." Saying yes to God's Holy Spirit draws us closer to him and thus grows our relationship with him.
As you follow the previous steps mentioned in this blog there will be a real temptation to follow your own will. You won’t feel like praying, reading God’s word may seem boring, you may not feel like going to church, or you won’t feel like initiating relationships. In these times, continue to yield to the Holy Spirit and utter the same words as Jesus, “ Not my will, but yours be done.” Lasting growth in the Lord is found in the continual submission to the will of God, even when our will is contrary to his will.
Here We Grow!
Isn't it wonderful to know our relationship with the Lord can grow? We can be tempted to put all the work on him to grow it, but this is a partnership. We have a promise from James 4:8 that says, "draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." As we do our part to grow this relationship with our Lord, he will do his part.
I desire to have the best relationship with the Lord that I possibly can. I pray that you would join me in having this desire as well. Why settle for a shallow relationship with the Lord when we can invest our time and energy to cultivate an intimate one? Let's grow in the Lord together.
1. Of the five ways listed to help you grow your relationship with the Lord, which one would be the most challenging? Why?
2. What is your greatest obstacle to growing your relationship with the Lord? What practical things can you do to begin to overcome this obstacle?
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