Three Ways to Build Closeness with God

Throughout my journey of faith, I have had various conversations with fellow Christians about closeness with God, and what is common with most, is that we have all been through periods when we didn’t feel as close to Him. When that happens, we often conclude that there is only one explanation, and that is that it’s something we are not doing. I have heard some say that they feel distant from God, but this is a misleading feeling because it is not possible to be distant from God.

“Where can I go from your Spirit,
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
Psalm 139: 7-10 (NIV)

God is everywhere, including in us, and so physical distance is not the reason why we feel a lack of closeness. When we think of human relationships that drift apart, whether they be romantic, platonic or familial in nature, it is not always because of physical distance. There are many things that contribute to strong relationships, and the same things apply when it comes to our relationship with God. I’m going to unpack three areas where I believe we can draw near to God by comparing it with our human relationships.

1. Closeness through meaningful conversation

No relationship can thrive without meaningful conversation, and here I would like to look at each of these words separately, starting with ‘meaningful’.

Many of us don’t have a problem with prayer – even your most devout atheist may at times find themselves sending up a prayer to God asking for help in a near-death or urgent situation. Yet God wants our hearts which requires longer than a five-minute list of requests and apologies for wrong-doing. None of us would want the ones we love coming to us only when they needed something, or worse, coming with pretentious formalities, and neither does God. He only wants our most authentic selves and only then can we expect to build a meaningful connection. But what does this look like practically?

First, we need to come to Him and be with Him. One of the things I love most is sharing long hugs with my husband. I can stand there and rest my head on his shoulder for long stretched moments because its firm warmth enables me to just sigh and feel safe. How different our relationship would be if I never shared those hugs but instead gave a cursory greeting and started rattling off my troubles and requests. Yet how often do we do this with God? We need to remember who we are talking to when we pray, and we do this by relaxing into His presence, exhaling all the day’s tensions and emotions, and laying them at His feet, resting with Him in a quiet embrace, meditating on the very one who holds us.

Be real

Then we begin to talk to Him, and my second point is that we need to be real. It is tempting to revert to habitual prayers and go through a mental list of people and issues to pray for. Don’t get me wrong, we must pray for others, and we should bring issues to the one who has the power to change them. But if you had a friend, or sibling, or child, who you hadn’t spoken to in a while, would you not want to at some point in the conversation as they spoke of everyone else’s life, stop them and ask, ‘but how are you doing?’ And if they pretended that all was well, but you could sense it wasn’t, wouldn’t that make the encounter feel inauthentic? God wants to hear from us. He wants us to bear all to Him. He wants us to tell Him what worries us, why it worries us, what we are ashamed of, what excites us, what we hope for and what our deepest desires are. He may know our hearts, but He wants to hear how we are processing them. Then we are being real with Him.

Okay, so some of us might get this first part right, and we love talking to God and resting in His presence. But remember, conversation requires a dialogue, which means the person to which you speak should have a chance to speak too. I would wager a guess that not many of us enjoy spending time with someone who does all the talking and does not give us a chance to ever speak. It would certainly be difficult for an intimate relationship to be formed if one knew everything about the other, but the same was not true for the one doing all the talking.

We cannot be intimate with God if we don’t know Him. While He may not speak to us audibly, there are many other ways that He does speak to us if we still our minds enough and listen for Him. This is where it does get a bit tricky, and some people have struggled to hear Him. Advice from a man in our connect group suggested that journaling is one of the strongest ways to free the mind and allow for God’s voice to enter the words that we write. Sometimes His voice comes through the deep, inner nudges either encouraging us or cautioning us. Sometimes He may even speak to us in dreams. Other times He may even speak to us through our own spoken words as we counsel someone else. This has happened to me when an answer came to me for one of my own problems as I was speaking over someone else who had a completely different problem to me.

Yet even if one is unable to tap into any of the above, we have the longest love letter ever written in history to turn to, the very Word of God. Yes, there are many stories of war, many instructions, warnings of wrath and condemnation, but ultimately it culminates in thousands upon thousands of words of love, relayed directly from the Father’s heart through his chosen prophets and then most importantly, through His very own Son and the sacrifice He made on the cross. It is not that different from the love stories we see in Hollywood and literature; stories of a troubled love that is redeemed in a happy ending? That is God’s love story with us except it is much better! And we can understand intimacy with Him through knowing that love by reading His word.

2. Closeness through affectionate connection

In his book, ‘The 5 Love Languages’, Gary Chapman emphasises the idea that expressing love through actions can help rekindle feelings of love in a relationship.

For most of us, when we love someone, we want to show it physically and verbally. It is through the shared smiles from across the room, the hand-squeezes, and the warm embraces that we can express to someone our love and their importance in our life. With exception to countries where public display of affection is illegal, some romantic couples will hold hands or exchange kisses unabashedly as a means of showing the world their love for one another. Other more private couples may choose not to be affectionate in public, but generally, when the relationship is strong, partners will share those physical gestures as a communication of love and adoration. For others, perhaps physical affection is not as much a language of love and they may use affectionate words to express their love.

Worship for me is my opportunity to show God my love and affection for Him. The same need to embrace someone I care about as a physical gesture, comes through in a need to raise my hands to symbolically draw near to Him. But just as some people are not comfortable with public displays of affections with their spouse, so some are not comfortable with raising their hands in worship in front of others as they do not like the spectacle it makes out them. This is okay, but then it becomes a question of how are you worshipping? Are you physically worshipping Him in your private space? Or do you prefer allowing the words you sing to be the vehicle carrying your sentiment? The important thing is that you are enabling a space to physically love and adore Him.

If you are feeling like you are not as close to God as you would like, and if you are not feeling the love that you wish you could say you felt for Him, then love Him actively through praise and worship; worship your way back into being in love with Him, for He deserves your active and physical affection and adoration.

3. Closeness through mindfulness in activities

Not everyone finds sitting down at a table or at the foot of their bed conducive to spending time with God. I’ve heard some people say that some of their most meaningful moments with God happened while they were cycling or driving. While I wouldn’t suggest we limit our time with God to times doing our hobbies or while we go about our day-to-day, there is something special in bringing Him into the activity of your day through being mindful of His presence.

Relationships can often be strengthened through doing shared activities we love with the ones we love. Earlier I mentioned that God wants our hearts, that means everything, not just when we are struggling. Our Father is the source of all joy and the giver of all blessings, so why shouldn’t He share in the times when we are exhilarated or enjoying ourselves?

My favourite times with God have been when I’m walking. I love the outdoors and drinking in all elements of it, and I know I’m not alone in this. I also know that going for long walks is often a means that friends and couples connect with one another. My husband and I have certainly enjoyed some special walks together, and what is interesting to observe, is we weren’t always in deep conversation. Sometimes the specialness was just walking hand-in-hand, being mindful of each other’s presence. So while I can’t physically hold God’s hand while I’m walking, I will sometimes raise my hand ever so slightly to physically share the moment with Him. For my husband, swimming in the ocean is the one activity that will always uplift His mood immediately, so for him, being mindful of God’s presence while he is swimming, has always been his special way of connecting with Him.

He has created us all so uniquely, with our own loves and ways of experiencing the life that God has gifted to us. Therefore, share the things you love with Him, invite Him into your enjoyment of experiences. The more you do so, the more you will find God fills your mind and this can only bring more closeness with Him to you.

Father God, thank you that I get to experience true relationship with you through your son, Jesus Christ. Thank you that you delight in me and that you have created so many ways in which I can enjoy being in relationship with you. Please always remind me through your Holy Spirit that you are with me so that I may deepen my relationship with you and love you even more. Amen.

What are some of your ways that you find help in growing your closeness with God? I would love to hear some of your thoughts or tips in the comments below.


  • Khumo Nakedi
    Posted at 19:22h, 21 March Reply

    I love this! I think it’s so important to remember that a relationship with Jesus is truly a heart-to-heart one. We can often submit to going through the motions when spending time with God, and not really giving all of ourselves to Him. But He wants so much more than just religion and, well…that’s WONDERFUL news!

  • Angela Chiaberta
    Posted at 08:15h, 09 April Reply

    Thank you for your comment, Khumo, I wholeheartedly agree!!!

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