Staying close with God is something that I have struggled with throughout my life. There are really only two times in my life when I can honestly say that I felt as close with God as I should. Once when I was in 8th grade about to move into the 9th grade and my senior year of high school.
The summer before 9th grade, all of my friends had moved or I had lost contact with them. I felt extremely alone but I had far more time to focus on God, reading the Bible, singing worship songs, praying to Him. And in that time I would wake up every morning with this warm, warm feeling. God was in control; I had nothing to worry about. Then high school started and I put the many worries that came with that upon myself again and he shrunk into the background again.
The second time I was truly close with God was my senior year of high school and here’s where I can give the best advice to you all about how to stay on the right path.
My senior year I attended Christian Club at school, youth ministry on Wednesdays, volunteered with a church group every Saturday morning, read my Bible everyday and attended church with my family every Sunday.
These things alone did not make me a Christian (as Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,”) but they helped me to stay on the right path of keeping my relationship with Jesus going. Doing all those things without knowing Jesus’ love and believing He died on that cross for me would have gotten me nowhere, but knowing that and doing those things kept me strong in His love.
So here is my advice for how to stay close with Jesus once you’ve accepted Him and how to keep your relationship with Him strong (advice I myself will be taking as I try to get back to where I was two years ago).
1. Read Your Bible Every Single Day
A relationship with God is a two way street. Praying to Him is like writing a letter to Him and reading Your Bible is reading His letter to you. Last time I checked His letter is probably the more vital of the two, ay? Pick a time during the day to routinely read your Bible and get down to it. If you miss a day, don’t punish yourself but pretty soon you should be looking forward to that time so much you won’t want to miss it! How much you read a day is up to you. Do what you can.
During that time you read your Bible, I would also recommend what hipster Christians (I use that nick name endearingly) call “journaling.” Everyone has their own way of journaling. Some use it to write out prayers and to document what they’ve learned after reading their daily passage of the Bible. I personally recommend, writing down what you’ve learned from the passage, how you can apply it to your own life, what God has shown you that day/ how He has blessed you and how you can better yourself as a Christian. It keeps you accountable and aware of how you are doing.
Prayer doesn’t have to be just at night before going to bed. Pray throughout the day and most importantly pray about huge life decisions and even small ones. Don’t know if you should take that new job or what college to go to? Pray about it. That’s how I chose my university and I am already seeing why God called me to it. Even simple stuff like “Hey God should I take side-streets or the freeway home?” can make for a miracle.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11
He already has a plan for your life, He knows which college would be best for you and what job you were born to do. Let Him guide you through prayer! So pray to Him. He wants to hear from You. You’ve read his letter, now send Him one from you.
4. Go to Church Every Sunday/Saturday/Whenever Your Service Is
I cannot stress enough how important it is to attend church service and have written a whole blog post dedicated to the subject. Going to church weekly keeps you inspired and refreshed every week to continue on your walk with God. It’s so easy to get lazy in your bible time, journaling and prayer but a weekly stop at church (at least for me) gives me the encouragement to continue on the next week. Plus church is where a good deal of learning happens for Christians from the pastor’s message (just make sure its a message directly from the Bible). Go. Go. Go.
5. Get Involved with Your Church
Find a way to volunteer with your church and give back to the community, whether that be volunteering at the church’s welcome booth every Sunday or volunteering with the church’s food drive (or anything of the like). Godly men and women will want to give back and show love to others and doing such things has always made me feel closer to God because you’re living out His word by showing kindness, love and compassion for others. We’re called to be an example of God’s love in this world.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
Use these opportunities to glorify God. Many people will only ever see God’s love through Christians. Prove to them that it’s strong and real.
6. Be Around Fellow Christians
All of these tips are important, but this one is the most important in terms of accountability. It is so easy to get caught up in the ways of the world and sin when your friends and others close to you are not Christians. By all means you don’t have to cut all your ties with non-Christians, but having a group of Christians who you can open up to and share life with is so very crucial. These are the people who will tell you, “Hey maybe you shouldn’t be doing that,” or “I’ve been worried about you, what’s going on?” when you start to fall away from the Lord (and that happens guys). Following God isn’t a walk in the park, it’s difficult, it’s the tougher path, so have people there who will help you along when you start to hike down to the easier path below. Your non-Christian friends down there will be cheering for that to happen. If they’re the only ones in your life – how easy do you think it will be to just follow them instead?
Also as indicated by the picture above, romantically as well. If non-Christian friends can bring you down… well you can figure out the rest. For more in-depth Christian dating advice you can look here.
7. Get Rid of Everything in Life that is Not of God
The most difficult of these tips. If you are doing something in your life that is wrong, stop doing it. Plain and simple. We all fall, we all have weaknesses and hopefully your fellow Christian peeps will keep you accountable and save you from it, but sometimes you have to do that yourself. Put God first. Rid yourself of anything in life that takes you away from Him. Plain and simple.