How To Experience A Deeper Relationship With God
Karen Jensen Salisbury
Karen Jensen Salisbury has been in ministry for over 30 years, and a writer for over 40. She and her first husband, Brent, traveled as itinerant ministers, and also pioneered two churches in the Northwest.
In 1997, upon Brent’s unexpected death, she became Senior Pastor of their church in Boise, Idaho. She raised their sons, Josh and Ryan, through their teenage years into young men on fire for God.
Karen was an instructor at Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma from 2005 to 2014. In March of 2014 she married businessman Bob Salisbury, and they live in Minneapolis.
This article is an excerpt from Karen’s latest book “Closer Than You Ever Imagined: Experiencing the Deep Relationship With God You Always Wanted.” You can read the first part of the book and/or order your own copies here: https://www.karenjensen.org/karens-books
Let me ask you a question: How did you get close to the people you’re close to? How did you get to know your parents, your best friend, your love, as well as you do?
The answer is, you talked to them. You spent quality time with them. You listened to them and shared your heart with them. You couldn’t wait to hang out with them—it hasn’t been a burden to get closer and closer to them, it’s been a joy!
That’s the same way you’ll get to know God in a deeper, more intimate way. Intimacy is built in all the little moments when you are just spending time together. As I’ve said before, many people know about God. But we’ll only truly know Him deeply—walk freely in His presence, be able to trust Him in every circumstance, and have His power flowing to and through our life—when we’ve spent quality time with Him. It’s not a burden—it’s a joy.
There is so much vying for our attention in today’s “information age.” A tidal wave of data and information washes over us every day. We’re inundated with news, images, emails, notifications, alerts, and more. Computers and smart phones have revolutionized the way we create, store and retrieve information on a whim. A global economy and instant communication have created an explosion of data that we are exposed to every day.
The average adult consumes five times more information every day than the average adult did 50 years ago. Our brains are working overtime to process and filter all the data, trying to determine what is and isn’t important to our survival. There’s more data available than we can ever possibly comfortably process. Scientists are saying that the overwhelming amount of information invading our thoughts day after day is affecting our minds, and can lead to agitation, confusion and decision paralysis.
We’re getting so much information that it’s hard to quiet our minds down enough to focus on one thing at a time.
That can sound depressing, but I truly believe that God knew exactly what you and I would be dealing with in the 21st century. He put us on earth for such a time as this, and He’s not surprised or worried by the technology we live with. I believe He has absolutely given us the wisdom and the grace to deal with it and use to it our best advantage.
But it’s up to us to tap into that wisdom on a daily basis! I believe it’s the most crucial thing that you and I must discipline ourselves to do. And it’s the only way to develop a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Psalm 46:10, although written centuries ago, is completely applicable for today, and gives us a huge key in how to overcome the mind-numbing flow of worldly information and be intimately and securely anchored in our relationship with our Father. It says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
That is a loaded admonition, isn’t it? In today’s fast-paced, highly driven, stressed-out world, we are not very good at being still. Yet this verse shows us that if we will be still, we can know God. And when you know God, you have every advantage. I would venture to say, with all that’s going on around us every day, we need to be still. When we’re still, we are simply in better position to hear from God.
God made us in such a way that we need this recharging every day. Let me use your cell phone as an analogy. Your cell phone won’t go forever without being plugged into a power source on a regular basis. You have to charge that puppy up at least once a day if you want to keep using it, right?
What happens if you forget to charge it—if you just get too busy and don’t have time to plug it in? It’s going to die on you. And without power, that phone is useless to you.
You are the same way. You can’t go forever without plugging into your power source, which is God. If you want to keep operating effectively—hearing His voice, walking in His plan, resisting the enemy, maintaining your joy, peace, and prosperity – you have to charge up at least once a day by reading and meditating your Bible, praying, and spending quality time with your Creator. It’s the only way to stay close to Him.
If you get too busy or don’t have time to plug in, what’s going to happen? You won’t exactly die, but you won’t be sharp, either. You’ll be easily confused or tempted, you’ll be stressed and frazzled, you’ll lose sight of your life’s goals, you’ll get in trouble financially, and a myriad of other things.
Have you ever had that feeling that you need something? And you kind of wander around looking for it (usually in the fridge, or the phone, or….). Too many times we try to fill that need with things like eating, binge watching, sports, social media, or even drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.
But it’s really our hearts crying out for more of God! Only He can fill that void in our soul. And when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:8) and willingly pours into us His love, His wisdom, His help. Every time He does that, we come to know Him more. But we are the one who must approach first. Then He’s right there to give us everything we need.
Without God’s power flowing to you and through you every day, you’re on your own. And we all know how that works out. I like to say it this way: every day you go without reading your Bible is a day you’re trying to live life in your own strength and it’s too hard for you!
God has given us His Word so we can know His will. It’s meant to be used as a sword (Ephesians 6:17) to do battle with every negative situation in our life and bring us through to victory. He’s given us an open invitation, 24/7, to come and spend time in the His presence. To tell Him our worries and leave them in His capable hands. To get His wisdom and perspective on problems. To refuel, reboot, and renew our souls. Jesus tells us:
Matthew 11:28-30 (VOICE)
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
What a promise! I don’t know about you, but I feel better just reading that scripture. He is ready and willing to spend all the time in the world with us. He knows we’ll be better off from having done it. That is an invitation I never want to turn down.
The best way to make sure you spend daily “charge up” time with God is to develop a habit of daily devotions. I like to meet with God early in the morning, simply because it gives me a good start to my day when the house is still quiet and nothing is clamoring for my attention.
I love to “fill up” with God and lay my day out before Him so he can guide and help me every step of the way. If you’re more a night person than a morning person, it’s totally okay to do your devotions in the evening if that works better for you.
My best advice is to make an appointment with yourself for your devotional time, and don’t let anything interrupt or shanghai you. Because something will always try! Have you ever settled down to read the Bible or pray, and the phone rings? Or the kids cry? Or you think of something you need at the grocery store? Yeah, me too.
We have to discipline ourselves to focus in on this daily time with God and make it a habit that we do automatically. Think of it like an appointment with a physician or beautician that you had to wait a long time to get into. You’ll move heaven and earth to keep that appointment. Get that same attitude about keeping your daily appointment with God.
Because everything changes in the presence of God (Psalm 119:130). A daily devotional time gives you opportunity to be still enough in your soul to receive all that He is, all that He has for you.
Psalm 92:1, 2
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night.
I promise you that setting aside this daily time to spend with God will be well worth it. And it’s really the way you’ll get to know Him better, walking in that close intimacy that He wants and you crave.
Do whatever you can to carve out this wonderful, personal time with God. Get up a little earlier if you have to. I can’t overemphasize the importance of this time you spend with God. Everything hinges on it. It’s not a duty—it’s a joy!
Here’s an example of things I do in my daily devotional time with God:
- Praise and give thanks
- Read the Bible
- Pray in the Spirit
- Make the day’s schedule
This is not a hard and fast “schedule” by any means—you do what works for you. These are just meant to give you some ideas of how you can spend your time with Him.
The quality time you spend with God is vital to your relationship with Him. Forming a daily habit of spending time with Him will reap great benefits in your life! You don’t have to do it the way I do—I’ve just given you these points as an example. But do your best to keep your daily appointment with Him. It’s how you’ll get closer and closer to His heart.