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4 ways to transform & grow your relationship with God

What does it look like practically to make sure that indeed our mind, soul, and heart are set on prioritizing God above all things?

Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

1: Prioritizing The Bible

The Bible is the Word of God—His special revelation to us about who He is and what He has done. It is, in effect, God’s very words to us, His people, breathed out for our betterment, equipment, and sustenance (2 Timothy 3:16; Deuteronomy 8:3).

Read, Study, Apply

You gotta start somewhere. Read lots and read often. Read broadly—everywhere in the Bible. And read specifically—focus in on parts of it so you can grasp the greater meanings of the texts and truly understand the Scriptures for what they are.

And don’t just read; add to this study and application. Try your hand at inductive Bible study—where you walk through a passage making observations, interpretations, and then thinking through how you can apply the truths you have learned.

Finally, don’t just learn what the Bible says—be a doer as well as a hearer (James 1:21) and actually take action to obey as God instructs you in how you should think and live.

Corey’s Pro Tip:
Structure and Spontaneity
 

When it comes to immersing myself in the Bible, I like to make use of both structured and unstructured times. For example, I structure regular time to read daily—ideally first thing in the morning. At the same time I want to take advantage of any potential unstructured time. Keep your Bible (or your favourite Bible app; mine is the free ESV Bible app) on you at all times so that if you find yourself with a cancelled meeting or class you can spend some extra time with God instead of messing around on your smartphone.

2: Prioritizing Prayer

In my early University years, a brother pointed out that “if you’re not talking to someone, you don’t have a relationship with that person.” It makes a lot of sense, and prayer is an awe-inspiring privilege that we all too often take for granted. How can we make it a priority?

Structure Your Prayer  

Commit to to both personal and corporate times of prayer throughout your week, starting small and staying manageable. Try attending a morning or daily prayer time on your campus or at your church at least once a week. This makes sure you’re making prayer a priority that you’re not skipping out on.

Balance Your Prayer

Make sure you’re not just praying for stuff, but for others (“all people” 1 Tim. 2:1), for yourself, and for just about everything. Try using the acronym ACTS (Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication) to make sure your prayer life is thorough.

Pray through Scripture, and according to Scripture

Try worshipping through the Psalms. Read the Word as if God is actually speaking to you (He is), and engage with it, talking back to God as the Spirit convicts you.

Corey’s Pro Tip:
Journal Your Prayers

How many times have you said, “I’ll pray for you” and never actually followed through? Keep a journal on you or make a “Prayer” note on your favourite smartphone note taking app and write down prayer requests as they come so you actually remember to pray them.

3: Prioritizing Community

God ministers to us through us

The Apostle Paul often compares the Church (all Christians) to a body of many different parts that are indispensable to one another, and in Ephesians 4 tells us that our growth into maturity is done through community. We cripple ourselves and stunt our spiritual growth if we are not in serious, Christ-centred fellowship and community.

Go to a Bible believing Church…

In today’s day and age, many buildings and gatherings call themselves “churches” but it is wise to make sure to find a church that is a Jesus-centred community. Find a church that preaches and believes the Bible, with leaders who practise what they preach. If you are unsure where to start, ask a trusted friend, or P2C-Students staff.

…And get involved!

And while you’re at it, don’t just go to Sunday worship! Join a small group/Bible study, go to fellowship events, and stick around after formal events to build relationships with your spiritual family. Don’t overwhelm yourself with “things to do” so that you end up not following through on your responsibilities (school) or you never have time for non-Christian friends, but nonetheless prioritize community.

Corey’s Pro-Tip:
First, Think Love and Service

When you get involved and connected, try not to think too much about yourself. Love, after all, is sacrifice of self for the sake of someone else (John 15:13). So try thinking first about how you can give and be a blessing to the body of Christ instead of how you can take from them. Try taking a spiritual gifts questionnaire to see how you might be gifted to serve, or try different means of serving until you and those around you start to see how you are gifted to serve.

4: Prioritizing Mission

This one might come as a surprise to some, but I don’t think it should be. Love, defined Biblically, is inseparable from action, and any action we take as believers should be to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and so part of the mission of God. If we fail in being a doer as well as a hearer, we fail to prioritize God and His Word in our hearts, and so we have placed another god before him in our lives.

Cultivate a Heart for the World

Pray regularly for your world. Pray over the tragic news you hear on a regular basis, that God would be working for His glory and the joy of all nations even in tragedy. Pray through a book like Operation World, or check out  joshuaproject.net to be informed in your prayers for the nations. Remember God’s global plan, and that you and your prayers are part of God’s worldwide rescue mission.

Do Evangelism

Evangelism, though often a scary thing, can be an absolute thrill and awesome venue for spiritual growth. Speaking from experience, I have never grown so much nor been blessed by God with more assurance of faith as when I began to do evangelism and proactively point others to Christ.

So pray for your friends, classmates, and family, and seek opportunities to share the gospel with them. Share what God has done in your life, and just in general point them to Jesus. Get involved in a campus ministry and allow yourself to be trained in ministry-style evangelism. Whatever you do, find means of talking and engaging with the unbelieving world, being obedient to Jesus’ call to being fishers of men, and making a difference by pointing people to Jesus.

Corey’s Pro Tip:
Do hard things

Taking a step of faith means that whatever that “step” is, it is not something that is easy to do. It requires trust. It requires “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). Doing a challenging thing means it’s gonna hurt—but doing it in faith means that you believe that the hurt will be worth it, and helps us turn to God and depend on His strength instead of our own. The first time I went to share my faith was with my small group leader—and he did all the talking. Nonetheless, it broke some of those initial barriers down and paved the way for a lifestyle of evangelism. I took that baby step a few short years ago, and now I’m the one taking younger Christians out to share their faith for the first time! It’s amazing what God shows us when we simply step out in faith.

So pick some hard things.

Did you do it?

Now, pray, count to 5, and go do them. I suggest starting with some of the less daunting ones to break the ice, and doing them with someone if possible. Whatever your “hard things” are, do them! Put God before the opinions of other people, before the expectations your society puts on you, and before your own insecurities.

Ready to set your priorities?

How we live will show what we are truly focused on. Hopefully you’ve found the above helpful in moving you towards putting God first—but remember it’s just a list!  Legalism never helped anyone grow closer to God! Never let yourself be consumed with spiritual to-do lists. Instead, may God guide you and your unique self towards loving Him more and living all for His glory.

Let first things be first. Prioritize God.

Published Oct 13, 2014.

About the Author

Corey Sleep

Corey loves thinking, writing, reading, athletics & fitness, music, theology, pop culture and peace and quiet. He graduated from McMaster University in Kinesiology but in the end couldn’t resist a call to ministry. He now works with Power to Change – Students dividing his time between campus ministry and creating blog and other content. You can check out his personal blog at rexcommentary.wordpress.com.

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