How to get closer to God…no matter what life throws at you.
I half-heartedly listened as the lady in my small group shared what God had been doing in her life. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was that what she shared made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
She seemed close to God. She talked with Him. Heard Him. Felt His Presence.
And yet, for me . . . things were different.
Reading my Bible felt boring. Praying felt like a chore. And I always ended up daydreaming about something else when I was supposed to be spending time with the Lord.
I wanted to feel close to God.
But no matter what I did . . . He still felt far away.
Then one day as I read Matthew 14, I found something interesting. In Matt. 14:13 it says, “As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns.”
Did you see that?
The crowds saw Jesus leave and they decided to follow Him.
Even when it meant traveling far. Even when it meant following Him into a lonely, deserted place. (Matthew 14:15) And in the end, by following Jesus even when it was hard, they ended up finding the greatest of blessings.
They found Jesus.
He healed them. He taught them. And He even fed them.
All 5,000 of them.
Yep, this crowd is from that story. The story of the 5 loaves and 2 fish.
The people in that crowd went into that lonely place empty. But they walked away full.
And we can, too.
Tips on how to get closer to God
Since that day long ago when I admitted my struggles, I have learned how to get closer to God spiritually. I have grown deeper in my relationship with Him.
But keep in mind, the following tips I share aren’t a quick fix.
Growing closer to Christ begins with a daily determined effort. It is a habit that is formed by degrees over time. And it means choosing to follow Him no matter how we feel.
No matter what it takes.
But in the end, we will be closer to Him than we have ever been.
#1- How to read the Bible to get closer to God
We can grow closer to God as we read the Bible and use scripture to pray. It’s a great way to stay focused. And since the Bible is the Word of God, He loves to hear us pray His words back to Him.
Start by reading a verse. Think about what the verse is saying. And then respond to God in prayer.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him.” -Psalms 91:2 NLT
Prayer in response:
Dear Lord, I declare that You alone are my refuge. In your arms, I find safety because I know I am Your beloved daughter. As a child runs into their father’s arms when frightened or hurt. So, I run to You. You are my God. And I choose to trust You. Amen.
#2- How to meditate to get closer to God
Since all of Scripture is the very word of God, reading His words helps us get to know Him better. But we shouldn’t just read them. We should also study and meditate on them.
To meditate means to intensely use the mind. It means to ponder. Dwell on. And consider.
God’s Word is not fast food. It isn’t something we can consume in 5 easy minutes. We need to marinate in it for a while.
Start by reading a passage slowly. Focus on specific words within the text and ponder how they contribute to the passage as a whole. Ask questions about the text. And pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Meditating on scripture helps us get to know God and spend time in His Presence because it forces us to slow down.
#3 How to get closer to God by fasting
Fasting is the act of refraining from something in order to spend more time with God.
For example, you could fast from lunch on Fridays in order to spend the time you would normally spend eating in prayer for your family.
Every hunger pain you experience throughout the day could be a reminder that “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” –Matthew 4:4 NLT
Or you could fast from social media for a day. And every time you are tempted to reach for your phone use that as an opportunity to take some time to pray.
Fasting is a great way to remember how dependent we are on God and to draw us closer to Him.
How to pray to get closer to God
Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. And just like with our friends, the more conversations we have with Him, the more we get to know Him.
Here are 2 different ways to pray. But there are many more.
#1 Journal your prayers
Writing down our words keeps us from getting distracted. It also helps if we are feeling emotional about what we are praying about.
When we are in an emotional state of mind we operate out of the right side of our brain, but when we journal, we move to the left side of the brain which is much more analytical.
So, the simple act of writing things out can go a long way in helping us see things clearly. It also helps us keep track of answered prayers and how we have grown in our faith.
We forget things easily so journaling is a great way to preserve our faith memories.
#2 Sing your prayers
Music is simply the heart singing a prayer. It connects our body, soul, and heart with God in a way nothing else can. And when we pair beautiful melodies with words of praise it becomes something amazing.
Praying through worship music is a great way to help us feel more connected with God.
Grow closer to God through His creation
There is nothing like spending time in nature to help us feel closer to God.
The beauty of the sunrise reminds us of His faithfulness. The vast variety of flowers shows off His creativity. The massive expanse of the sea reminds us of His power. The dazzling stars in the night sky remind us that God is big enough to handle anything we are facing.
Simply spending time in nature can help us feel closer to God.
Do what you were created to do
Eric Liddell, the famous runner said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
I have never loved sports. But when my children are playing. All of a sudden, I am a sports fan.
I watch their games with excitement. I cheer them on. Because seeing them do what they love to do and sharing their joy makes me happy. And I feel closer to them because of those shared moments.
In the same way, God loves to see us do what He created us to do. He watches us with excitement. He cheers us on. And when we use our talents and abilities for God, we grow closer to Him as we feel His pleasure.
Bible Verses about how to get closer to God
The following scriptures are inspiring for anyone who longs to feel more connected to God. Because they remind us that we CAN grow closer to Him.
“‘If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord.” -Jeremiah 29:13-14a NLT
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” -James 4:8a NLT
“The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” -Psalms 145:18 NLT
When God feels far away
If you are like me and long to know how to get closer to God and Jesus, can I leave you with a bit of encouragement?
There are going to be times when God feels far away. When your spiritual life feels dry. When it feels like reading your Bible and praying are just a waste of time.
But those are just feelings.
They are not the truth.
In those hard moments, keep going. Keep showing up. Keep practicing all the spiritual disciplines we talked about today. Strive to make them daily habits.
Even when you don’t feel like it.
Because as we learned from that crowd in Matthew 14, when we follow Jesus through the lonely, remote, deserted places . . . we find a blessing on the other side.
The blessing of growing closer to Him.