The Christian life is not lived by studying what Jesus did and trying, in your own strength, to duplicate it. It’s not a script to be read and acted out. It’s real life — a complete life — a meaningful life — a worthy life. It’s His life lived out through you. He becomes your life. He becomes your true love.
There’s no formula to having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but there are patterns and examples in the Bible that we can follow. Don’t feel overwhelmed as you learn how to approach God. Just take it one step at a time — one day at a time. Focus on your relationship with Him today. The past is the past, and you can’t change the mistakes you’ve made. But you can press into God, and He’ll press into you. Don’t look to the bigness of your needs or circumstances, but keep your eyes focused on the bigness of your God to lead, guide, and direct you.
As you begin your relationship, it’s imperative that you enter into God’s presence through worship and prayer. Just like with earthly relationships, you must spend time together. It’s the only way to know each other. The closer you draw to Jesus and learn His heart, the more beauty you’ll see... and the deeper your love will grow. So if you hunger for an intimate, vital relationship with your Heavenly Father, begin to worship Him.
What is worship? It’s expressed in countless ways in many different church traditions and cultures. But God-honoring, Christ-centered, Spirit-led worship always involves expressions of gratitude, awe, and devotion. When we worship with sincerity, we’re expressing to God His enormous worth and value in our lives.
Like the angels in heaven, all true worshipers say, “‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power’” (Revelation 4:11, NKJV). True worship not only recognizes the worthiness of God, it rejoices in it. Our worship should involve both our attitude and our action.
Let me caution you about one thing. Worship that feels right may not necessarily be right. God has a prescription for praise:
First — Our praise must be “through Jesus Christ.” Apart from Him, we’re alienated from God.
Second — We must remember that praise is a sacrifice, a giving of something that’s valuable.
Third — Praise from our lips should be outward evidence of an inward, passionately burning heart for Christ.
So how do we worship? For many people, worship is considered to be the singing part of a church service. But it’s SO much more. It’s an entire life — home, work, church, and community — that’s lived to honor God. The Bible shows specifically how God has designed us for worship. We can glorify Him by:
• Presenting our entire selves to God (Romans 12:1).
• Living godly lives (1 Corinthians 1:2).
• Offering a sacrifice of praise with our mouths (Hebrews 13:15).
• Doing good things (Hebrews 13:16).
• Giving generously and sharing with others (Hebrews 13:16).
• Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19).
• Proclaiming the Word of God (1 Timothy 4:13).
• Remembering the Lord’s sacrifice through the celebration of communion (1 Corinthians 11:24-26; Acts 2:46-47).
These verses point out just a few ways for us to engage in worship. Always remember that worshiping God shouldn’t be reserved for the church building alone. It’s something you carry in your heart throughout the week.
The Bible says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17, NKJV). This means that whether you’re completing schoolwork, job-related work, housework, or whatever your hands find to do — do the very best you can for the Lord’s sake. When you do this, you’ll be blessed. God’s Word says, “‘For in him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:28, NKJV). So no matter what the task, do it by the Spirit and in recognition that you’re a living vessel of worship to the Lord.
When you strive to honor God in your work, you’ll find yourself excelling in life, and you’ll be rewarded. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV).
Along with worship, Christians have the unique privilege of falling in love with their Lord through prayer. Prayer is simply talking and communicating with God — just like you would to a close friend.
Prayer isn’t speaking some kind of incantation or reading off a prepared list. It’s communion with God. In Psalm 42:7, the Bible says, “Deep calls to deep” (NKJV). In prayer, the depths of your spirit are in communion with the depths of the Spirit of God. Out of this, you receive instruction, guidance, and wisdom.
The Bible tells many stories of individuals who prayed for different reasons and in different ways. For example, when Daniel was at home in an upstairs room, he got down on his knees and prayed three times a day. He gave thanks to God and asked Him for help with a specific need (Daniel 6:10-11).
In Genesis 17:3, Abraham fell on his face before God, demonstrating complete reverence and humility. And, in John 11:41, we find that Jesus lifted His eyes toward heaven and spoke out loud, expressing thanksgiving and confidence in His heavenly Father.
When Hannah went to the temple to pray, Scripture says that she was speaking in her heart. Her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard (1 Samuel 1:13-16). She was pouring out her soul to the Lord...out of great anguish and grief. God heard His daughter, Hannah, and fulfilled her heart’s desire for a child.
One more example can be found with King David. He writes, “I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble” (Psalm 142:1-2, NIV).
As you can see, there’s no right or wrong way to pray. You may stand or kneel, keep your eyes open or closed, speak audibly or silently. Prayer should not be bound by tradition. It should be a matter of the heart. Christians should always be in an attitude of communion with God. Prayer can take place in every circumstance. In my life, as various things happen, I find myself talking to Him, asking for advice, or seeking His favor. According to Scripture, the Christian’s life should be filled with prayer: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NASB).
When you pray, tell the Lord how much you love Him and express your thanks for all He’s done on your behalf. The Bible says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4, NIV). He’s truly worthy of all our praise!
If you’re not sure how to praise the Lord, take a look at the Book of Psalms. You’ll find many powerful and touching prayers that can be your guide. Check out Psalm 104 — it’s a beautiful example of heartfelt praise and adoration.
In prayer, you should also ask the Lord for forgiveness. Forgiveness is key. And as we seek it from heaven, we should give it on earth. Jesus was very clear about this when He taught, “‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’” (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV).
The relationship of God’s people to Him comes about because of continuous forgiveness. If you want to see God move in your life, you have to be willing to forgive other people, just as God is willing to forgive you. And because you forgive, it doesn’t mean you approve of what someone may have done. You don’t have to become best friends. But you do have to let go of the anger, resentment, and bitterness you may hold in your heart. I know that this can be difficult, so ask the Lord to give you strength and the ability to forgive.
Be quick to confess all your sinful thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions to God. Don’t be afraid to get specific; He already knows! Then, be assured that God stands joyfully ready to forgive.
As you boldly approach Jesus, your Advocate, you’ll experience the restoration of pure fellowship with the Father. Next, when you want guidance or direction, go to God first. If you have a need in your life — in your family, your health, or your finances — present it to God. Share with your Savior about your day. Tell Him how you feel and what you desire. God loves to hear from you, and He wants to know about the concerns of your heart. The Bible says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).
And finally, be persistent with your prayers. The Bible urges us to do this:
“Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17, NIV).
“ ...The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, NKJV).
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8, NKJV).
God will not give things to a half-hearted seeker, so seek the Lord with all your heart. If you have a need, don’t give up; go ahead and bang on heaven’s door! Persistent prayer is an opportunity to express your ever-deepening hunger for God and to develop a confidence that, in due season, the Lord will hear your cries.
I can’t leave the topic of prayer without telling you about the importance of faith. The two go hand-in-hand. Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV). The Bible encourages us to passionately pursue God’s wisdom and intervention with a spirit of faith:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6, NIV).
So approach the throne of God with boldness and unwavering belief — this is what pleases the Lord. Worship and prayer, along with reading the Bible, are practical ways to feed your spirit and strengthen your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And, they’re all things you can do on your own. But God intends for His children to have support and encouragement. In fact, He’s designed us to live in a community of other believers. That’s why the church is so important — it’s where Christians can find fellowship, concern, protection, and provision. God’s Word says,
“...Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — all the more...” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV).
God wants us to fellowship with people who share our common love and affection for Jesus. Getting involved in church gives believers the opportunity to worship God through music and songs. Worshiping together — lifting our voices as one — provides a time of refreshment, peace, and joy as the presence of the Lord is welcomed. Jesus said, “‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them’” (Matthew 18:20, NKJV).
Finding a home church also gives believers an outlet for positively using their time, talent, and treasure. God gives each of us unique gifts, and He delights when we use them for His glory. Simply put, the church is most healthy when all its members are contributing to the vitality of the body.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Romans 12:4-6, NIV).
When choosing a church remember to:
Pray — Ask God to lead you to the church where He wants you to worship and serve. Seek — Look for a fellowship that believes the “whole” Bible and teaches that it’s the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Trust — Rest in the knowledge that the Lord has a plan for your life. He’ll make it clear to you!
As a Christian, when you practice the concepts of worship, prayer, and service to others, you’re sending a message to the Lord. You’re saying, “I love You; I’m in awe of You. I desperately need You; I understand the tremendous price You paid for me!” And He’s so pleased to receive your love letter.
He says to you in return, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you; My heart is in pursuit of you. You can trust Me; the proof of My love for you is undeniable!”
This small book cannot begin to contain all there is to learn about God’s glorious love. But my hope is that you caught a glimpse of its magnitude. God’s love for you spans the width of the universe and the length of eternity; it reaches from the heights of heaven to the depths of hell.
I encourage you to dive into that love and allow it to transform you. It will be a never-ending, awesome journey into the very heart of God.