Aren’t you tired of seeing others happy and wondering, “What about me, Lord?” Some Christians are so concerned about others that they neglect strengthening their own relationship with Christ. Oftentimes we are aware of our flaws or bad habits, but we decide to cover them up by overcompensating in other areas of our lives or indulging in vices. Similarly, some Christians are convicted when they are doing something outside of the Lord’s will. On the other hand, there are times when some Christians are used to doing a certain habit or act that they are immune to conviction, since they have become unwilling to change. Nevertheless, God wants Christians to do away with anything that’s blocking their relationship with Him. Therefore, Christians must be proactive in resolving their internal issues because these issues can stop them from trusting God and developing a deeper relationship with Him.
One way to be intentional about improving our relationship with God involves reaching out to Him when we are going through difficult times. Sometimes a Christian may forget that God wants him or her to be transparent with Him about their struggles. Bernard of Clairvaux writes, “The more I contemplate God, the more God looks on me. The more I pray to him, the more he thinks of me too.” God will pour into us what we pour into Him. How can we expect God to move mountains when we aren’t even investing in Him through prayer and devotion? When a Christian isn’t honest with God he or she might use other sources to handle issues, such as friends, family, or vices. This causes Christians to become stressed and anxious because they realize something is missing from the situation. I have experienced this myself, and I have realized what is missing is God.
Another way to develop one’s relationship with Christ is through self-care. Self-care involves spending time alone to work on internal issues, relax, assess growth, and think about personal goals. It is vital to one’s faith because it involves making time for oneself and God. The Lord needs to see that He is a priority in your life. God is a nurturer, but if He has nothing to nurture a Christian can’t grow. Prioritizing God can be simple, yet it can become complicated when a Christian doesn’t want to change. Christians must be honest with themselves. If believers can’t be honest with themselves, how can we be open and transparent with God? Confessing transgressions that we keep within ourselves is freeing, and this action allows believers to be free from fear and shame from being disobedient. Additionally, it allows Christians to break down their emotional walls.
Struggling in one’s life can provide humbling moments for a Christian to realize the vital role God plays in their life. Writer Michelle McKinney Hammond notes that God is patient with Christians: “I had struggled so hard and so long that I had simply exhausted myself, only to find that God had all the time in the world to wait for me to allow Him to free me.” I can’t describe my gratefulness for God’s love and mercy. However, I don’t want God’s continuous mercy to become a crutch, so day by day I strive to deepen my relationship with God through prayer and devotion.
Fasting can help a Christian identify areas that need improvement, implement change, receive self-care, and commit to daily prayer and devotion. Andrew Murray notes that “fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” In fasting a Christian can learn what’s blocking them from having a better relationship with Christ; additionally, the believer can diligently work to overcome the roadblock. Similarly, Christians can take time to step away from distractions to take care of themselves. While fasting one has more time, and this time can be dedicated to God with prayer and devotion. Remember fasting doesn’t just include food: a Christian can fast from anything that’s taking her or him away from God. Ask yourself, what do I need to let go of in order to become closer to Him? I challenge you to wholeheartedly work to remove it from your life.