Could we have a quality Christian ministry without an authentic relationship with God? Anyone can pretend in the short term, but to truly succeed in the long term you need a devotional life full of passion and a continual closeness to Jesus Christ.
Practicing Christians are easily tempted to allow their ministry in the church or study for the preparation of certain sermons to fill their need for a personal relationship with God. Christian author Rick Warren proposes three practical solutions that will help build a closer relationship with God:
How to enjoy closeness in your relationship with God: the time factor
We all know getting acquainted with anything takes time. “I know Jesus Christ much better than I did five, ten or even twenty years ago,” Christian author Rick Warren says. When you spend time in communion with Jesus, you do not become more religious, but more natural—exactly what God wants you to be: not more religious, but more yourself.
You can’t develop a close relationship with someone in a crowd. The author, who is also a pastor, says that he enjoys greeting as many of the people attending church as he can, and exchanging a few words with each of them. His wife instead thinks it is more valuable to talk to one person at a time and devote consistently more time to them. You can learn a few superficial things about the people in a crowd, but you only get to truly know them by spending time with them. The same is true in relation to God.
Marriages die when one of the partners stops communicating. Relationships require communication. In the same way, you can only know God by talking to Him. “I talk to God all the time. Constantly I’m saying things in my mind to God all the time. It’s not even real spiritual. I can be going through a Taco Bell ordering tacos, ‘God, I’m really glad to get this one. I’m hungry!’ If you want to lose your joy, just talk to God in solemn, sombre tones all the time,” jokes Warren.
In his Gospel, John recalls Jesus saying, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Much prayer, much joy. Little prayer, little joy. No prayer, no joy, Warren summarizes. We therefore need to dedicate time to communicate if we want to enjoy a more intimate relationship with God.
“Relationships are built on trust,” writes Warren. “Kay [his wife] and I have a good relationship because I trust her. We don’t agree on everything but I trust her implicitly… When we first got married, we had all these little rules—how you fold the towels, how you push the toothpaste from the bottom up. Do you know how many rules we have in our home now? Zip! The greater the relationship, the fewer the rules you need,” says Warren.
The pastor says that part of God’s way of teaching us to trust Him is when He allows us to face many problems. It is when we exercise our trust in Him during difficult times that He can prove His reliability. Paul says, “My number one ambition in life is…” to start churches? No. to get rewards in heaven? No. To win people to Christ? No. He says “My number one purpose in life is to know Christ.” He says this at the end of his life. Doesn’t he know God? Of course. But he wants to know Him better. He never stopped hungering for God.
Our constant search and need to know God better will always materialize in different ways, according to our personalities. It may very well be, says Warren, that “mystical people hunger for God in a mystical way. Practical people hunger for God in a practical way. Loud people hunger for God in a loud way. Emotional people hunger for God in an emotional way.” The constant is our need to know God more. And this, Warren says, should always be our number one ambition.