the most significant in my life. Enjoy the links as well.
These are not in order, but maybe I'll rank them one day.
1. Outdoor quiet times
Spending time in nature while contemplating spiritual things can create unforgettable times. Once while out in the dark of morning, a rustling noise about fifty feet away startled me. I started praying and waiting. Once it got too close for comfort, I turned on my headlamp on and two eyes low to the ground were staring at me from fifteen feet away. I will always remember that.
Read this practical article here on how to enjoy your time outdoors with God.
Reflection is imperative in meaningful relationships. Journaling provides the time to do that—not only in processing in preparation to write, but also in later review. Sometimes, for my time alone with God, I just read my past journals and reflect on how God has worked in my life.
Check out this article on how to journal tips from Marian over at RedeemedGirl.org.
3. Take notes
The dullest pencil is sharper than the brightest mind! I can’t remember where I read that…point proven I guess. Over the years, I have had some meaningful time just looking back over my notes from sermons and quiet times. It is amazing to be able to see how God has lead and all the things He has been teaching me.
Look over this article on note taking tips for devotions.
4. Go to bed early
Sleep is imperative to mental clarity. If you are foggy and groggy when trying to spend time with God, then it won’t be meaningful. Not only is early to bed a good idea, but there are some important sleep quality tips as well.
I like this article and have talked with my wife about implementing the Better Sleep Councils ideas.
5. Walk and talk
Occasionally I take a walk on my lunch breaks with Bible and hymn book in hand. I will talk with God as friend to friend. This has been an excellent connecting place. It helps that I work in a rural setting with birds, creeks, and blue skies. I always feel closer to God outside.
6. Memorize Scripture
How is one’s devotional time improved by memorizing Scripture? Experience is the best teacher, but the mental connections that happen through Holy Spirit ministry are incredibly impactful! God will begin filling gaps and speaking to you mentally through His words.
Chad Kreuzer focuses on Scripture memorization and has a great ministry where he has encouraged thousands of people to begin making Scripture memory a habit. Click over to his website here.
7. Fast from Food
Believe it or not, short fasts from one meal to one day can increase mental clarity and emotional sensitivity. Often, 1-3 day fasts lose the benefits as irritability and weakness can set in. However, after about the 3 day mark fasting gets easier and the above benefits are greater.
Check out this article on how to make fasting enjoyable and easier.
8. Fast from Media
A crowded life leads to internal strife! After the initial shock, disconnecting from the web, phones, television, radio, games, and books is quite liberating. The greatest source of freedom will be the mental peace and clarity. So set a time period of 1-7 days and stick to it. The spiritual gain is lost if you do not fill your new time with prayer and Bible study.
I liked this article from Nick and Leah Lincoln over at Abide and Seek on seven benefits of media fasting for spiritual purposes.
9. Read prayer testimonies
Encouragement and inspiration abounds from learning about how God has answered the prayers of others. I encourage you to pick up a book about how others have seen God work in their prayer life.
One such book that I found is by Roger Morneau titled, “More Incredible Answers to Prayer.”
10. Bible format
How does the way your Bible is formatted enhance your relationship? That is a great question! The answer is in a small way. Consider the comparison of a love letter written on wide rule notebook paper in pencil, and one written on quality weight off white paper in calligraphy.
Sure, the message and person matter more than the delivery, but the delivery affects us somehow. I think that Bible formats, their readability are, and appropriateness for the situation bring us closer in some small way to reverently approach the Bible.
I think Mark over at Lectio would agree. Check out his gift Bible suggestions here.
11. Read Bible Study Methods
Make methods an occasional object of consideration. After you read a new book or article on the subject, apply them and see what you like or don’t like about them. Then you can add or take away for your current Bible study methods.
Here is a solid and time-tested Bible study method.
12. Use a concordance
Ever read a textbook and wished every book had a more comprehensive index so you could search for topics or terms more quickly? Well that is what Dr. James Strong did. He systematically indexed every word in the Bible and accompanied it with a Hebrew and Greek Dictionary. Software and websites exist too, but if you are like me you prefer a book in hand.
Use blb.org as a free online source with video tutorials or pickup a Bible concordance at your local Christian bookstore (nice way to meet people). Contact me through my website and I will send you a screen cast on how to use a Strong’s Concordance.
13. Use Bible dictionary
A resource that is more like a Bible encyclopedia. Read about culture, geography, Bible authors, clothing, food, jobs and everything between. A very comprehensive resource that brings depth and background knowledge to your Bible study.
Here is one I recommend.
14. Use Maps
I love road maps! Although Bible maps are not as detailed, they provide geographical details that might have otherwise been missed. How far of a walk might it be from Jerusalem to Samaria? What did the terrain look like? Maps can help with this and more!
I have found this map book to provide great information above and beyond what I expected.
15. Read books about Jewish culture
Saint Francis once wrote, “O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek…to be understood as to understand.” I recognize the principle and intended application are different, but the it buttresses my point well. We should seek to understand the Jewish culture before seeking to understand how a Bible text applies in our life.
I recommend, “Manners and Customs of Bible Lands,” by Fred H. Wright.
16. Study in groups
Great minds think alike…so they say. I think a diversity of thoughts are valuable and to be particularly treasured in Bible study. Numerous times I have benefited from the insights of others in group study.
The best Bible study happens in groups! Below is a suggested format for facilitating Bible study in a group using an engaging approach.
17. Teach others how to pray and study
There is something about stretching the comfort zone that brings meaning. Think about that time someone got you to try something new and exciting. Maybe it was white water rafting! You were hesitant, but what great memories were made.
There is also the reward of crystalizing your own beliefs and remembering experiences that offers enrichment. That benefit is small in comparison to the fact that you are making an eternal difference in someone else’s life.
Alicia over at your vibrant family has a nice website geared toward women and mothers. Check our her prayer tips here. She is doing a great thing.
I also really liked John Piper’s tips on prayer. I especially resonated with tips 3, 5, 6, and 7!
18. Help in a children’s Bible class
Children are so much fun. They ask great questions and rarely remember you for that lesson you bombed. Never mind the well-earned prize of communicating the good news in simple terms either. Blessings galore abound here.
This article gives some tips on how to tell a Bible story for children. There are some great tips here for telling Bible stories. One that I would add is to tell the story without their names to rekindle interest.
19. Exercise outdoors
You may be wondering how this enhances your relationship with God. Bottom line—I just feel closer to God outside. And the mental clarity that comes while walking, taking an easy bike ride, or performing a simple garden task is immeasurable.
Have you ever wondered what the health benefits are of outdoor exercise? Then read this short article with a list of six up ticks because of moving it outside.
20. Eat healthy food
The body fuels the mind. Healthy body equals a healthy mind. Just as athletes like Tom Brady fuel their mental capabilities by living a healthy lifestyle, so Christians enhance brain performance for spiritual insight and sensitivity.
Here is an article that I found interesting about Tom Brady and his health choices for a corruptible crown. The emphasis is on sleep, but Tom Brady also notes his eating and drinking decisions. How much more should Christians keep our bodies in great shape (1Corinthians 9:24-27; 6:19-20; 10:31)?
How does working in the garden enhance your relationship with God? There are many spiritual lessons to learn from working the soil if the laborer listens. Furthermore, the Bible is full of agricultural allusions that come to life because of working the garden. At any rate, who doesn’t feel closer to their Creator after being out in nature?
Check out this article where I discuss seven game changing tips for gardening. I love gardening and share briefly how it has made me feel closer to God.
An outdoor trip done right will serve to stir thoughts of life purpose and musings of eternity. The key is choosing the right time of year and location. Avoid holidays and the extremes of summer or winter (that is unless you are a veteran with the right gear). The idea is to have a nice place to hike, fish, stargaze, or just sit by the fire.
Andrew over at godlyparent.com had a guest post about five reasons you should consider camping with an emphasis on connectivity.
The rapid pace of go, go, go squelches the still small voice. The whispers of heaven can easily be overlooked. We were created to rest. Develop your relationship with divine appointments of pause.
Shannon at Nourishing Days has some great principled tips to consider as practical steps on preparing to enjoy the weekly Sabbath rest.
24. Create a special place for prayer and study
Scenery and setting can set the mood for a positive and meaningful experience in any relationship. Why should it be any different for the time we spend with God? Below is a link to an article that has transferable tips on creating a place for worship.
Rachel aims to encourage fresh faith and has a simple list of ways to create a prayer space. Ashley over at ourfaithfulhome.com shares a more detailed prayer closet idea.
25. Do some random acts of kindness
What does an act of spontaneous generosity have to do with one’s relationship to God? Furthermore, how will it enhance it? The answer is easy. As we do things that God does, we better understand Him and enter His joy!
Ray Larsen, a digital acquaintance of mine over at Acts 1:8 Ministry, put together this program that can be used by individuals and churches here. Here is a list he created for individuals and groups!
26. Secretly help someone else
I read this blog on the eight levels of giving a little while back. I found them extremely enlightening and can relate to them very well. I have both received and given on multiple levels. Experiment with the different rungs of the ladder mentioned in this blog.
27. Star gaze (Psalm 8)
One of my favorite musical Scriptures is Psalm 8. I composed a tune to a few of the verses in that Psalm. This meditative musical reads, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers. The moon and the stars, which you have set in place. What is man that you are mindful of Him…”
Something about the depth of darkness and heavens luminous lights stir up feelings of humility and awe. This blog post here has 13 tips for star gazing from astronomers.
28. Hide the clock
Have you ever been spending a limited amount of time with someone special? Has the clock ever ruined your experience? Maybe you spent so much mental energy worrying about when it would end that you lost the moment.
The clock is a quiet killer. No need for an article here. Just hide the clock or set an alarm that will go off when your time is up. Simple and effective.
29. Listen to the Bible being read
This is an absolute game changer for some people. I often share it with people who either have trouble with reading comprehension, who get bogged down in the details, or are wanting to read a Bible book that is long in one sitting.
Below are a couple links to some audio Bibles that I recommend. I think it’s best to have an audio only version without the dramatization.
King James Version-Alexander Scourby
English Standard Version-David Heath
30. Tell others what God is doing in your life
This does not have to be a text book, doctoral dissertation, or sermon. Short and personal are all that matters. You will be thoroughly blessed by sharing with others what you are learning, prayers that God has answered, or a miracle He has showered upon you. These are only a few examples of what you could talk about.
Read my blog post here where I share about a series of miracles God arranged that made me cry!
31. Join a prayer group
Across the world are what churches call “Prayer Meeting.” However, sadly these are not meetings where group prayer happens very effectively. I have found that prayer meeting done right is my favorite way to connect with other believers.
Campus Crusade for Christ has a great article on how to host a prayer meeting!
32. Experience conversational prayer
This one is related to joining a prayer group. Conversational prayer is formatted to meet the needs of spontaneity and structure. A tall order I know.
Here is a blog post and also a pdf on ideas for meaningful and powerful prayer meetings from Campus Crusade for Christ.
33. Pray with a prayer partner
Having a committed partner to pray with on a consistent basis is different than praying in groups. With a prayer partner, you may only come together for 15 minutes. It may be over a phone instead of in person. Either way this tip can serve to strengthen your relationship with your partner and God.
Read this blog post from Kathryn Shirey on the why and how of praying with a prayer partner.
34. Play hymns with a recorder
Okay. You got me. I play the tenor recorder. That’s why I put this one on the list. You can use whatever instrument you want. However, maybe you don’t play an instrument. A recorder is a cheap one to start with and relatively easy to get simple tunes out.
Hymns are simple and profound. You can easily learn some new tunes to take you through the day and keep you close to God. Not to mention that recorders can travel most anywhere.
Here is a YouTube channel I recommend on learning how to play the recorder. Sarah is entertaining and incredibly knowledgeable.
35. Write poetry
Don’t just write any kind of poetry. Write in rhyme about things that remind you of your Creator. Put some passage of Scripture in your own words. Tell a story about how God has led you in the past.
It’s true, not all poetry rhymes. Nevertheless, I like writing poetry that does. Here is a blog from John Piper that discusses recommendations on learning how to write Christian poetry.
36. Practice solitude and silence
Often, we must be still and silent to hear God whisper. Regularly getting somewhere by yourself to pray, sing, read, and just plain think for a day or two will benefit your relationship with God. I have long acknowledged the benefits of solitude, and felt confirmed in my convictions on solitude and silence after reading this blog post over at GotQuestions,org.
37. Practice gratitude
One way to combat depression and anxiety is to practice being thankful. Dr. Neil Nedley recommends keeping a daily gratitude journal where you write down at least one thing you are thankful for.
Ben Greenfield over at ChristianGratitude.com has a slick journal that guides you through building the habit.
38. Declutter your life
A clean life is a clear mind. Often humans don’t perceive the effects of clutter on their personal clarity. A disorganized home and life are often, not always, an indicator of poor health and lack of purpose. However, there is no need to fear!
Brett over at Art of Manliness has a well-written article on tips for decluttering. .
39. Subscribe to one Christian magazine
In my opinion, magazines with short articles on Christian themes that come quarterly can be a great way to change your spiritual pace. I recommend selecting a magazine that addresses topics that you care about, or are at least interested in.
Here is a list of magazines to choose from at LifeWay.
40. Join a Christian Fellowship Consistently
Church, whether in a building or at home, is important. Hebrews 10:25 encourages believers to come together. “Why does it matter if I go to ‘church’ or not,” you may ask.
Ruth over at Living Well Spending Less talks about the benefits of staying connected with other Christians.
There it is! A complete list of forty things you can do to develop a meaningful relationship with God!
Please share your tips below in the comments section. I am sure others are curious to know what your relationship building secrets are!
*Note: Materials that I selected in the links may not fully represent my personal beliefs, but I have found value in what was shared and encourage you to also eat the melon but spit out the seeds. Blessings!
I'm a full-time ministry minded farmer and anytime writer.
Unlock Your Devotions!
“‘Forever Opening God’ is superb. I love it! It is fresh, simple, honest, true to life and intensely practical!
This book will be a blessing to many. A tool to lead broken lives (and not so broken ones) to find in God the lost purpose of their existence.”
Pastor, John Coelho III