When Janet and I first met, she was about to turn 16 and I was approaching 18; we lived across Denver from each other. I was spending lots of time in a school of preaching while she was a junior in high school. We didn’t have the chance to see each other more than 2-3 times per week, often at church.
To begin to develop our relationship, much to the chagrin of her parents, we spoke on the phone. We could talk endlessly. The conversations were about the most menial things, the point was… we were talking. I wrote some letters, cards, that kind of thing. We just wanted to communicate. If we had been a generation with cell phones, we would have been constantly texting.
She was restricted on dating, so we didn’t go out much. I was restricted on income, so we didn’t go to fancy places. The point was, time together. Driving in the mountains, movies, fast food meals, and youth events, we made the most of every opportunity together. We created the time because we wanted a deeper relationship.
I’ve been studying how to help other disciples deepen their relationship with God. I use a number of “spiritual disciplines”: prayer, meditation, solitude, journaling, and study. I find them helpful. I interject others from time to time, but these five are my primary things. So how do I communicate these to others?
First, I am not sure that the “what” is quite that important. To decide between journaling (one’s record of gratitude, confession, submission and sacrifice) or prayer is not that important. All of the disciplines are pointed or directed toward God. The key is the focus, the intentionality, the purpose of being with God. Perhaps it is like distinguishing between the superiority of Instagram or Snapchat to communicate a message?
Second, to grow in a relationship with God requires communication and reflecting on God. It is something that must be a priority for us. So, there must be an allocation of time. For Janet, it is her travel time back and forth to work. She has that uninterrupted 2 hours per day. I use my morning meditation period; time I don’t answer the phone, deal with email, or have distractions around.
Third, evaluate from time to time. Is it becoming drudgery? Yes, at times, training yourself to be more spiritual is tiring. But we must press through. A shift in how you interact with God can often be helpful. Spend a day jotting notes of gratitude for his provision, for example.