God plays a pivotal role in many of our lives. He keeps us faithful, honest, and on the straight-and-narrow, among other things. His presence in our lives is unique and irreplaceable, but at times, we can drift away, too. If we want to maintain our faith in God, we need to put effort into it; it doesn’t stay strong all by itself.
As such, having a few strategies on hand for how to be closer to God is always beneficial. Through these activities and exercises, you can strengthen your current bonds with God and even build new ones if you so desire. If you’re a person of Christian faith and you’re looking to encounter a few more ways to grow closer to God, read on.
Reach Out to God
Often, when we go through a rough period in our life, we can feel like our relationship with God becomes strained. We might feel like God has abandoned us and allowed us to tackle our difficulties alone. If our challenges are of our own making, we might feel like we’re not worthy of His help anymore. Life gets us down in many ways, and while God is ever-accommodating and merciful to us, we don’t always feel that way.
However, all we need to do when we’re feeling far from God’s grace is to reach out to Him. God will always answer our prayers, and while we may not always be able to see how He responds to us, He has a plan. It’s our responsibility to follow God’s plan, regardless of what tests He decides to put us through. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t reach out to Him for help.
A useful proverb to remember in situations like this is the following: “I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders.” While God’s plan for us may not always be easy, He never gives us more than we can handle. All we need to do is reach out to Him and ask for his guidance and strength, and He will deliver.
Giving thanks is something that we do every day. If you don’t give thanks every day, it should be something you try to incorporate into your life right away. Giving thanks to God for what He has given us keeps us humble, keeps us close to Him, and helps us to feel His love. When we consider all of the fantastic and beautiful things that God has given us, we cannot help but feel happiness and joy!
If you’re having trouble seeing what we mean, try thinking of the many things you’re thankful for. Consider some of the following examples:
- The Earth
- Family and friends
- Your home
- Your job
- The food you eat
Saying grace is an excellent way to give thanks to God because we make a habit of doing it every day. By reminding ourselves that God has provided us with the food we eat, He remains in our minds, and we become closer to Him. When we keep God at the forefront of our minds, His presence suffuses our lives, and we end up happier as a result.
Prayer is one of the most traditional means of bringing yourself closer to God. Prayer is our most important method of communicating with Him, and in order to stay close to Him, we should do it frequently. In addition to weekly mass, you should at least pray twice per day – once in the morning upon waking, and once at night before retiring to bed. If you can pray over your meals throughout the day, this is great, too.
Through prayer, we can speak to God about our worries, offer our doubts and sins up to Him, and ask Him for guidance or strength. God is always listening to our prayers, after all. Not a single one goes unheard or unanswered. While it may not always be evident right away how our prayers are answered or how God is strengthening us, half of the battle is knowing that He is still there.
Prayer is an excellent method of bringing yourself closer to God because of its versatility. While the mass is a great way to get closer to God through structured prayer, you can still pray virtually anytime, anywhere. If your only quiet, free time is while you’re commuting to and from work every day, you can pray during your drive. If you prefer to lock yourself away in your room to pray, you can do that, too.
Some locations, times, or events can be better for prayer than others. If you’re looking for a way to pray more effectively and increase your relationship with God, try these options:
- Praying in a quiet, remote, natural place like a hiking trail
- Visiting a chapel or sanctuary to pray
- Asking for the help of a church individual to deepen your prayer
- Attending confession to start with a clean slate
The Bible is one of the most important books to the Christian faith (if not the very most important), and as such, studying it can be an excellent way to deepen our bonds with God. Bible study is an activity that varies from individual to individual, as each studier has the choice of taking the Word literally or metaphorically.
While most Christians today prefer to study the Bible from a metaphorical standpoint, that doesn’t mean that literal study is incorrect or inferior. You should always review your faith in whatever way you feel is right, but keep in mind that many of the rules, laws, and precepts explained in the Bible are not as applicable in our world today.
Back when the Bible was written, faith in God made up the entire existence of its writers. There were no computers or cell phones, and people didn’t work 9-to-5 jobs in the same way we do today. Exotic foods weren’t regularly available, and we didn’t know nearly as much about the human body and mind as we do today. As such, many of the old laws explained in the Bible were only appropriate for the people of that time. However, Jesus gave us the greatest gift in the New Testament by denouncing those old laws and giving us new commandments and life lessons to follow.
That being said, the Bible (even the Old Testament) is full of parables, advice, and metaphors that have significant relevance in our day-to-day lives. The Bible teaches kindness, humility, acceptance, and love, among other things. It never hurts to learn a little more about accepting others and keeping our faith healthy from Jesus himself.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and serving those around us is an excellent way to do this. Not to mention, devoting our time to others is a perfect way to stay humble and close to God. When we do something that benefits others in exchange for our time, money, or possessions, we get an undeniable good feeling deep inside our hearts that’s hard to match with anything else.
Of course, as followers of Jesus, we should always aim to serve others in our daily lives. However, explicitly making time to serve others instead of merely doing it on the way to work is a bit different. When we exchange our time that we could be using to make money, serve ourselves, or otherwise use for our gain for the gain of others, we bring ourselves closer to God and become better people at the same time.
What’s more, when you love your neighbor and you show that in your everyday life, the kindness that you share with them will come back to you several-fold. You will never know when someone who you helped in the past might appear in your life unexpectedly. Any day, a homeless individual whom you gave money to could have used that money to turn their life around, for example. A friend that you offered a ride to when they wrecked their car could repay that courtesy when you need a new one yourself.
Distractions have a habit of getting between God and us no matter what we do. This applies both in our everyday life and when we’re praying directly to God himself. Distractions like money, material possessions, and relationships with others can get in the way of our relationship with God. Things as simple as music, our smartphones, or daily stresses can distract us as we attempt to pray.
There are many ways to minimize our distractions, both when we’re speaking with God and when we’re trying to live a God-fearing life. Minimizing our day-to-day disturbance is a bit trickier. To start, we should let our friends and family know that our faith always comes first. When we get sucked into the desire for material things, we should remind ourselves that material possessions are worldly and temporary – they will not follow us into the afterlife.
Minimizing the things that distract us as we pray, on the other hand, is much more straightforward. Take care to pray during mass when our minds, hearts, and souls are already very attuned with God or take the time to create a similar environment at home. When we get the hang of it (or if we need to), we can pray anywhere and everywhere, but the outside world can end up distracting us even when we’re practiced.
If you need a peaceful, distraction-free experience to get the most out of your prayer, consider some of these options:
- Lock yourself in your room for an hour
- Put on some soft ambient sounds that will promote focus, not detract from it
- Visit a chapel or church during non-peak hours for quiet prayer
- Go pray in a calm, peaceful place without other visitors
- Practice meditation in conjunction with your prayer
Take Your Time
The importance of taking your time is a pivotal thing to remember when you’re on your journey to grow closer to God. Just like healthy relationships develop slowly over time, your relationship with God is the same way. There’s no reason to rush this relationship, and on the contrary, trying to rush it can be just as harmful as trying to rush an affiliation with an ordinary person.
Each of us has a different relationship with God, and this is not a bad thing; in fact, it is a good, beautiful thing. Instead of forcing ourselves to know God the way that someone else does, we must learn to love and appreciate God in our way. If we try to force the relationship, we could end up feeling confused, sad, lonely, or worse down the road.
Any priest or minister will tell you the same thing: build your relationship with God at your own pace and don’t accept the words of anyone else who tries to force you to do otherwise. Just like there are infinite faiths and beliefs out there, there are countless ways to know God, too. It’s much more critical that we build a relationship that speaks to us rather than rushing through something haphazard and unstable.
Create a Routine
While all the times you talk to God don’t have to make up a routine in your life, having one in place is an excellent way to start. When you have a routine, you’ll reliably have time in your schedule for faith-related activities rather than trying to find time for them along the way. With how busy our daily lives are, this can be extremely important.
This isn’t to say that everything you do with God needs to planning; instead, we mean that you should have a structure set in place, then move forward from there. You should take the time to talk to God and study His Word whenever you feel like you need the extra boost, but you should already be doing so with some regularity.
For example, it’s a good idea to plan to go to mass once per week, and we’ve also mentioned that taking time to pray when you wake up and go to sleep is a good idea. You should minimally plan to do these things, but you may also wish to pray over your meals or just when the mood strikes.
A few small steps to get closer to God taken every day add up to a lot after weeks, months, and years. Devoting just ten minutes in the morning and at night to God adds up to five days of prayer after only one year! Think about what that kind of extra time with God, even in small, manageable steps, could do to your faith and your relationship with Him.
Welcome Him In
When we’re hard at work at our job every day, we sometimes lose contact with God, even despite our best efforts. This is especially true when we’re going through hard times in life. If we are unsatisfied with God, we can end up blaming Him for the negative things in our lives or blaming Him for what are actually our shortcomings.
Surprisingly, we can drift away from God during prosperous times in our lives, too. Sometimes, when we experience success, wealth, or great happiness, we forget to thank God for those things. We end up leaning on God only during the hard times in our lives and neglecting Him during the easy ones.
We must remember to practice gratitude and let Him in during all the different times in our lives, including the good, the bad, and the ordinary. After all, God is at our side during all of these times, whether we see Him there or not. As long as we remember this, we can appreciate Him and welcome Him into our hearts both when we’re succeeding and when we are not.
If you need some help with welcoming God into your heart and your life, consider these options:
- Search your heart for what might be keeping God out
- Ask for forgiveness to purge your sins
- Let God lead the way when you’re unsure
Make Time for God
Making time for God is extremely important if we hope to become regular followers of Him and His will. While some of us have the self-control to celebrate God every day even without setting up a schedule, doing so is extremely helpful regardless. For the majority of us, we must set some rule or schedule for making time for God, or else we won’t keep up with our commitment.
This is nothing to be overly ashamed of. While self-control is part of the issue, as human beings, we are created flawed, and sometimes life does get in the way despite our best efforts. This sometimes happens even when we do have a schedule in place! However, in the vast majority of situations, having some plan or rule to follow is the best way to prevent us from falling behind.
If you’re one of those people who can successfully make time for God every day without needing a set schedule, that’s great! This means you can be more flexible at work and play without affecting your relationship with God. However, if you’re like most of us flawed beings and you tend to fall behind when you don’t have any rules to fall back on, don’t fret.
If scheduling isn’t for you, there are plenty of other things you can do that don’t involve setting a concrete schedule. Instead of using a plan, try merely setting up some ground rules instead. Try things like:
- I must find time to talk to God at least once per day
- I must go to mass at least once per week
- I must spend at least one-hour doing Christian service every week
- I must remember to say grace over every meal
Connecting with God
Sometimes during our journey of getting to know God (and especially during the earliest stages of our trip), we can feel like, despite our best intentions, we don’t know how to deepen our relationship with God. Perhaps we’ve tried meditation and prayer, but we feel like we sit in silence and waste time instead of making a deeper connection.
Making a good, reliable connection with God can be tough. This is all the more complicated by the fact that everyone’s relationship with God is different. While other people can give you advice and ideas to try, no one can tell you the absolute right way to connect with your God. Perhaps you’re new to Christianity, or you shunned it growing up only to realize your calling later in life.
For many of us in these situations, we don’t know how to pray. Some of us go our whole lives raised in the faith without ever truly learning what it means to pray and connect with God. Don’t be ashamed – this is far more common than you’d think.
Unfortunately, there’s still no real answer to this question. Neither we nor anyone else can tell you the secret formula for connecting with God. However, our primary recommendation is that you simply talk to him. God is accepting and merciful, and whatever way you work out to communicate with him, He will appreciate it and understand it.
There are many different ways that people use to try to connect with and communicate with God. Some of our favorites include:
- Writing a letter to God, then “sending” it to Him by burning it
- Talking to Him out loud as if you’re speaking to a friend
- Setting up an email address exclusively for “sending emails” to God
- Praying to God through musical worship
Count Your Blessings
“Count Your Blessings” is both a song and a form of lifestyle advice. When we count the blessings that God has given us, it gives us hope, renews our faith, and shows us that God is present and active in our lives. After all, God blesses us with His love and His will by mercy alone; as sinners, we do not deserve the great love and compassion that He shows us.
A great way to keep track of your blessings is with a prayer journal. Start by taking stock of all the blessings you can think of. Then, write down the things you pray for every day. Return to these things and cross off or check things off the list as time passes. By doing this, you end up with a journal, a prayer tool, and a checklist at the same time, all for counting your blessings.
When we don’t count our blessings or practice giving thanks often, we tend to end up forgetting about the gifts that God has given us. While this is not our fault – it’s in our human nature to continually look forward instead of back – we must work against this nature, else we become ungrateful. Counting our blessings is just one more excellent way to keep ourselves from growing complacent in Him.
Join a Prayer Group
Since our relationship with God is a deeply personal affair, we might not immediately think about joining a prayer group when thinking about ways to deepen our relationship with God. However, while some parts of our relationship with Him will always be our own, there’s no reason why you cannot celebrate your faith and God’s love with like-minded people!
Celebrating your faith, whether during the mass or in a prayer or bible study group, is a great way to keep it secure and healthy. What’s more, being in a group setting with others is a great way to gain new ideas, find mentorship, or satisfy your need for socialization. If you’re looking to deepen your relationship with God, someone else strong in the faith who attends your group is an excellent resource for advice and mentorship.
If prayer or bible study group sounds dry to you, don’t give up just yet! There are hundreds of different creative activities you can take part in that are meant to make deepening your relationship with God more fun. Consider some examples like:
- Christian Zumba
- Rock climbing to “spiritual heights”
- Christian music concerts
- Contemplative walks
- Christian service groups
While deepening our relationship with God isn’t difficult, it can sometimes feel dizzying when we think about where we should start. There are hundreds of thousands of different things we can do to deepen our faith, and while this means we’ll never get bored, it also means that we can become paralyzed by all the choices available to us. Fortunately, God, in conjunction with faith and heart, will show us the way if we’re willing to listen to Him.
While no one can tell you exactly how you should go about being closer to God, the ideas contained in this guide should at least get you started. If you try enough things, you will eventually find something that speaks to you and your faith, and hopefully, you will be able to strengthen your bond with God along the way, too.