Things and Reasons

This is a follow up to my previous post: Step by Step. In that post I talked about my struggle to really know God instead of trying to follow steps to become more holy. I started writing that post with the intention of it being this post. Well it went another direction so I will express my original thoughts in this post. Please feel free to share your thoughts as any or all of this could be completely inaccurate!

How do we become closer to God? We read the Bible, pray, and seek input from other Christians, right? Well that is what I have always thought, but now I think this is true and not true at the same time.

Let me start with why it is not true. You cannot grow closer to God by saying or thinking words, or by reading a book, or by asking other people what they think. These things cannot change you. Only God can change you. I know that seems obvious, but unless we go to the Scriptures, pray, and seek council form other believers with the understanding that God will use those things to speak to us we will not be changed. The Bible, without the work of the Holy Spirit, is just words on a page, Prayer, without being given to a God who is there, is just words in the air (or in our heads) and advice from other Christians, without the understanding that God can use them to speak to us, is just good advice. How do we grow closer to God? We spend time with Him, not fulfilling rituals and proper steps but praying, reading, and listening with the intent to hear from God!

Going on a date with my wife doesn’t make us closer. We could drop the kids off with their grandparents, drive to dinner, eat dinner, go see a movie, go for a walk, and go pick the kids up and never speak a word to each other. Would we have gotten closer through that? No. We must communicate with each other and use the date as an opportunity to interact.

Now in regard to how it is true: God uses prayer, the Bible, and other believers to speak to us, and as opportunities for us to speak to Him. These are the ways (maybe not all) that God communicates with us. Can we get closer to God by taking hallucinatory drugs? No. It is good that we want to communicate with God, but we must do so through the methods that he has provided: doing the right things for the right reasons. Right reasons aren’t enough and right things are not enough:

  • If I call my wife but don’t speak to her I am not communicating with her (doing the right thing for the wrong reason)
  • If I call my Mother’s house I will not be able to speak to my wife no matter how much I desire to(doing the wrong thing for the right reason)

So here I will pose my original question: How do we become closer to God? We read the Bible, pray, and seek input from other Christians with the desire and expectation to hear from God.

Note: After rereading this I feel that it seems like I am saying that unless we seek God he will not change us. Many times He does change us when we least expect it, in many circumstances. We may just be going through the motions and He may powerfully move in us. Truly he reaches out to us before we can ever reach back to Him! This and the previous post were simply meant to express what we do in attempts to draw closer to Him and how those attempts can be most effective, but it should definitely be made clear that God can draw us near to Him however and whenever He wants. I hope this clears the air a little.

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

5 responses to “Things and Reasons

  • Step by Step | The Ekklesia in Southern Maine

    […] The Ekklesia in Southern Maine For those in the Greater Portland area who seek to be the church Skip to content HomeAboutResourcesConnect ← Condemned or Praised? Things and Reasons → […]

  • David King

    Hey Dan,
    Good blog thoughts on “Growing Closer to God.” Or relationship with God (The only living Almighty, Sovereign God…Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) is like your relationship with your wife…it takes work! Working on communication skills, working on controlling reactions to situations, working on understanding her, working on pleasing her, working on loving her and self-sacrificing servant hood. David said in Psalm 1 that he drew closer to God by meditating on God’s Word…”but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” In other words, David was refreshed by meditating on God, he sensed life bubble up in his soul. He sensed spiritual prosperity (closeness to God).

    Knowing God requires self-discipline to meditate on God’s Word day and night. Read the Bible AM and PM, reread what we just read until the Word begins to speak to our cold distant heart. Which by the way will cause us to start confessing our sins….getting right with God and others.

    I need the Holy Spirit’s help to draw near to Him, to open my heart to Him. I need to sing songs that I know from heart that talk about God’s love, forgiveness, His gospel. Every day I must do this in order to walk closer to Him and become a tool in His hand. Closeness to God is for a purpose…so I know His heart and what he has for me to do in service to Him.

    That’s all for now.

  • Dan Allen

    Dave,

    I love the verse you shared from the Psalms. I think it really captures what I am trying to say. Delighting in the Law, Meditating on it day and night (all the time?). It seems like David was not content to skim through a chapter of the Bible during his quite time, put the Bible away, and go on with his day. He loved it and meditated on it, it’s words permeated his thoughts all day. You know that verse got me thinking about a lot of aspects of drawing nearer to God through the Scriptures. Maybe I will write a new post about it …

    Thanks for the comment!

    -Dan

  • norma hill

    I think that desire and expectation to hear from God needs to go way beyond the devotional-type things we do (prayer, Bible reading, singing, etc) to include every aspect of our lives. We must seek to be AWARE of God’s presence in everything – I found Brother Lawrence’s little book The Practice of the Presence of God to be very helpful in learning to be aware like this.

    Also, in my experience, the really difficult times in life are a gift from Father. If we cast aside our complaints, or our own efforts to fix things; and instead take those experiences to Him completely, cast those burdens on Him (and be totally willing to allow Him to work the situation out His way, no matter how incomprehensible His ways might appear to us), those are times when we really do grow closer to Him.

  • Dan Allen

    Norma,

    Thanks for the comment. You are right on about seeking and expecting to hear from God in all that we do. Maybe instead of just asking “what do I do to hear from God?” I should ask “Am I listening for God in what I am doing?”

    Struggles in life do really help us to see where we are at, and if they are strong enough they can (at least temporarily) be used to break down our self-reliance and self-assurance. I know I have always come out the other end of life-struggles much more dependent on Him (at least until I loose focus again).

    I appreciate your input Norma!

    -Dan

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