A Christian's personal relationship with God is
fundamental to his current spiritual condition and his ultimate
spiritual state. Prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting and serving
fellow human beings are the chief means by which such a relationship is
initially established and continually deepened.
Salvation is an individual matter between a person
and God. God will grant salvation as an unmerited gift of mercy if the
individual has the proper relationship with Him. God will forgive our
sins if we ask Him to do so in prayer. God will greatly reward those who
diligently study His Word and meditate on His way for the purpose of
better serving Him. Thus, it is of profound importance that one attain
the deepest and closest possible state of personal fellowship with God.
But the Christian does not merely seek to build and
nurture this close relationship between himself and God because he must
do so. Rather, the true Christian finds the developing rapport with his
spiritual Father to be a uniquely satisfying and joyous experience that
transcends any physical friendship or association. This warm, personal
relationship gives the peace of mind, spiritual confidence and faith
that can only come from knowing that one really has contact with the
Designer, Sustainer and Ruler of the entire universe.
The intimate relationship that a Christian has with
his God is that of a family-the affinity is that of a son or daughter
with his deeply loving and concerned father. "As a father has compassion
for his children, so the Lord tenderly sympathizes with those who revere
him" (Ps. 103:13, Modern Language Bible). The tie between a
Christian and God far transcends the "blood" relationship of physical
families-it is the relationship of God's Holy Spirit (I John. 1:3). It is
through this spirit that we can have contact with God when even words
cannot express our feelings (Rom. 8:26). It is through this spirit that
we are begotten as God's sons; through it we gain the right to know God,
and indeed to call Him our "Father" (Rom. 8:15-16); and it is also
through God's Holy Spirit that we gain brotherhood with Jesus Christ so
that He becomes our spiritual elder brother (Heb. 2:11).
As a physical and biological creation, man is
constantly in need of food, air, water and other necessities of life to
maintain and strengthen his body. In like manner, the Christian's life
as a spirit-begotten son of God also requires proper maintenance. The
spirit of God is nurtured and grows within our minds in much the same
fashion as our muscles are nurtured and grow within our bodies.
Constant, constructive activity of a spiritual nature is essential if a
Christian is to thrive and reach his fullest potentialities. Personal
and private devotion includes prayer, Bible study, meditation and
fasting. These serve to initiate, and then to augment and enhance, a
person's relationship with God.
Prayer is man's personal communication with God. When
one prays, he utters verbally or mentally his praise for God, his thanks
for God's blessings, and also his requests from God for himself and for
others. Biblical example shows one should maintain close prayerful
contact on a daily basis-even several times daily (Dan. 6:10). The
Christian's prayers are an offering to God; they are described as
incense stored in golden bowls before God's throne (Rev. 5:8). A
Christian's prayers are not mere repetitions or imposed or stylized
prayers, but rather heartfelt, personal communication with the Creator,
analogous to communication with an intimate personal friend. A Christian
shares his hopes, dreams, frustrations, needs and desires with God as he
would with a physical father whom he loves and who loves him.
Jesus' instructions in Matthew 6:5-13 are the
clearest in the Bible regarding prayer. We are told to pray to our
Father in secret; not to heap up empty phrases; to address God as our
Father; to hallow His name; to pray for His Kingdom to come; to ask that
His way be followed and His will be done; to thank Him for our
sustenance and other blessings; to forgive us for our sins; to help us
forgive those who sin against us; to keep us from temptation; to deliver
us from Satan; and to help us understand, appreciate and look forward to
the majesty, power and glory of God.
While no one can dictate the amount of time one
should spend in personal prayer, Paul's admonition "be constant in
prayer" epitomizes that the proper mental attitude for the Christian is
to always be close to God. Although praying on one's knees is a common
biblical example (Acts 20:36; 21:5), there is no official posture or
position of prayer. One can pray at any time, in any place, with any
position and for any reason, and know with full assurance that God is
listening. Of course, the attitude of the individual is critical
in determining how God reacts to our prayers. On the one hand, God
states that it is our iniquities and sins which separate us from Him, so
that He will neither hear nor answer our prayers (Is. 59:2). On the
other hand, when we go to God in faith, with a humble and contrite
spirit, He will both hear and spiritually revive us (Is. 57:15).
In order to pray, we must realize that Jesus Christ
is our Mediator (I Tim. 2:5), our Intercessor (Rom. 8:34) and our High
Priest (Heb. 2:17-18). He sympathizes with our weaknesses and
understands our problems, because He was "in all points"-."in every
respect," (RSV)-"tempted as we are" (Heb. 4:15). It is only through
Jesus Christ and His sacrifice that we can approach God the Father in
prayer. This is a remarkable reality, truly an awesome opportunity to
literally come into the presence of God and have His full attention,
interest and concern. This is why the veil into the Holy of Holies
(where God symbolically dwelled) was ripped apart when Jesus died, as
direct access to the Father was suddenly made available for all mankind
for the first time (Mt. 27:51; Heb. 9, especially v. 8). But even more
than this, our direct contact with God the Father can be bold and
with confidence. Through Jesus Christ our high priest, we can
"come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and
find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). Though God is the very
Creator of this vast unfathomable universe, He wants us to speak to Him
strongly, directly, honestly and resolutely. This means that Christians
should pray to God "with confidence" (RSV), asking Him to forgive them
for their sins and to provide them with their spiritual and physical
necessities. But we must ask in our prayers; we must make the
conscious effort; we are part of the process. We must take the active
step of aggressively importuning God in faith. As Jesus told His
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you
will find; knock, and it will be opened to you .... If you then,
who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how
much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to
those who ask Him" (Mt. 7:7, 11).
In the same way that prayer can be defined as
communication with God, so can Bible study be defined as God's
communication to man through His written Word (Heb. 1:1). The Bible is
God's instruction book on how man should live his life. It is also the
record of how God has dealt with men and mankind in the past, and how
God wants human beings to respond and react to Him. The Bible is the
handbook to salvation, the textbook of eternal life. Certainly no
Christian could say he knows God if he has not read about God in God's
holy Word. He must learn to rightly divide the word of truth (II Tim.
2:15). While the Bible may be and should be studied from different
angles and points of view (e.g., in a technical manner to understand
doctrine), the most important Bible study for a Christian is to humbly
approach God's Word to learn how he might more perfectly live his life
before his Creator. A Christian studies the Bible with the full
recognition that God is instructing him that he must personally
apply biblical laws, precepts, principles and directives in his daily
life. A true Christian seeks "training in righteousness," and this can
often come about only through correction of error; consequently, the
true Christian must search the Bible for God's correction in his life.
As Paul wrote to Timothy: "All scripture is inspired by God and
profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in
righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every
good work" (II Tim. 3:16-17).
Closely related to and practically inseparable from
prayer is meditation. Meditation in the Bible is simply concentrated
thinking on a spiritual topic. It may include focused attention on a
particular biblical concept or passage in order to probe its deepest
message or meaning (Ps. 1:2), or God's wonders and work (Ps. 77:12;
143:5). Meditation can also mean thinking before God, as it were, on a
topic about which we need to grow and understand. Similarly, meditation
can be any personal thinking with the conscious awareness that God is
listening and concerned. Hence, meditation is closely akin to prayer,
and often indistinguishable from it. (The original words are often
capable of meaning either "pray" or "meditate.")
Fasting is illustrated throughout the Bible as a tool
by which a Christian can stimulate his personal relationship with God.
It is not a means of penance, but is rather a type of self inflicted
trial that reminds one of his own humanness and humbleness before his
great Creator God. It is by definition a specified period of time in
which an individual goes without food (and perhaps without water) in
order to remind oneself of his ephemeral, fleeting existence. Fasting
forces us to focus full attention on drawing close to God. The examples
of fasting in the Bible generally involve grave crises indicating that
it is not a ritualistic thing to be done on a periodic schedule.
Nevertheless, one should fast occasionally, even though he may not at
the time be confronting an emergency, so he will have the spiritual
reserve necessary should an unforeseen trial come along.
Prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting are not
ends in themselves. Rather, they are means through which we gain the spiritual
strength and endurance necessary to face the trials and tribulations
common to all humanity. The human problems of survival, health,
happiness, family, marriage, success and other such activities of normal
life become challenges to the Christian rather than merely tests of
endurance. It is through facing and handling personal problems and even
tragedies that a Christian builds faith and develops the essential
strength of character necessary for salvation. He views life as a
training ground where he can develop the positive qualities of love,
patience, faith, hope, and the other traits of God's Spirit.
Likewise, the Christian understands the purpose of
godly correction, and punishment. He knows God's ultimate purpose is to
reproduce Himself through man, to elevate man from human nature to God's
own nature, from mortality to immortality. He realizes that at times God
must correct His children to stop them from hurting themselves with evil
and to direct them into the godly obedience that produces character and
happiness. The Christian realizes that all humans at one time or another
need God's loving correction and thus he responds to this correction in
his own life with repentance and submission to the laws which are
intended for his happiness. God is a loving Father who will, when the
occasion arises, correct us-not in anger or out of spite-but rather for
our own good.
The twelfth chapter of Hebrews exemplifies God's
attitude, His great fatherly love, in correcting His children. We are
told "not to regard lightly the discipline of the Lord" (v. 5), because
"the lord disciplines him whom He loves" (v. 6). God is treating us as
sons (v. 7) and if He did not correct us, we would be "illegitimate
children and not sons" (v. 8). God's motivation in correction is clear:
"He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness"
In the last half of Matthew 25, Jesus Christ explains
how we should be developing a progressively more personal relationship
with Him. He told His disciples that when we serve others-when we
give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked,
welcome to the stranger and company to the sick-we are actually serving
Jesus Christ Himself.
When we extend ourselves to do good to the least of
His brethren, then we are in fact credited just as though we had done
those same things to Jesus Christ personally. It is a profound point. It
shows that a Christian's relationship with God must expand beyond
internal spiritual thoughts and express itself in an attitude of
outgoing concern and compassion for one's fellow man by external
Serving human beings is indeed one of the most
spiritually penetrating concepts revealed in the Bible. Only by loving
one's fellow man can prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting have
any real meaning,
James put it succinctly: "So faith by itself, if it
has no works, is dead ... and I by my works will show you my faith ...
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (Jas.
2:17, 18, 24).
It is with this overall understanding of God's
ultimate plan well in mind that the Christian, as a truly begotten son,
develops his intimate relationship with his spiritual Father through
prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting and the full living of the
active Christian life.
READ THESE SCRIPTURES FROM YOUR OWN BIBLE:
Psalms 103:13 - God tenderly
sympathizes with those who revere Him.
1 John 1:3 - Relationship with God
is one of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:26 - We have contact with
God through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:15-16 - Through the Holy
Spirit we are begotten as God's sons.
Hebrews 2:11 - Through the Holy
Spirit we gain brotherhood with Jesus Christ.
Daniel 6:10 - Example of prayer.
Revelation 5:8 - Prayers described
Matthew 6:5-13 - Pray to God in
secret. Lord's Prayer.
Isaiah 57:15 - God hears prayers of
Isaiah 59:2 - Sins separate us from
1 Timothy 2:5 - Jesus Christ is our
Romans 8:34 - Jesus Christ is our
Hebrews 2:17-18 - Jesus Christ is
our High Priest.
Hebrews 4:15 - Christ was tempted as
Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 9 - Direct
access to God the Father possible now through death of Jesus.
Hebrews 4:16 - We can come boldly
before the throne of God.
Matthew 7:7, 11 - God will answer
2 Timothy 2:15 - The Christian must
rightly divide the Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All scripture is
inspired by God.
Psalm 1:2 - Blessed is the man who
mediates on the Law of the Lord.
Psalm 77:12, 143:5 - Meditate on the
works and doings of God.
Hebrews 12 - God's attitude on
correction and punishment.
James 2:17-18 - By our works one
sees our faith.
1] A Christian's personal
relationship with God is fundamental to his or her current spiritual
condition. True or False?
2] Salvation is a matter between...
a. the person, the spouse, and God
b. the person, the ministry and God
c. the person and God
d. the person, the church and God.
3] God will grant salvation as an unmerited gift if...
a. there are no "ifs"
b. if you do good works
c. if you have a proper relationship with God
4] God will forgive our sins if we ___ ___ [what?]
5] God will greatly reward those who...
a. diligently study His Word
b. meditates on His way
c. serves Him
d. all of the above
6] The Christian builds a relationship with God because he must.
True or False?
7] The essential element to relationship between the Christian and God
is the ____ _____ [what?]
8] Constant, constructive spiritual activity is essential if a Christian
is to thrive and reach his potential. True or False?
9] Personal and private devotion includes:
b. Bible study
e. all of the above
10] Which of the following statements are true?
a. prayer is man's personal communication with God
b. Biblical example shows one should maintain close contact with God on
a daily basis
c. Christian prayers are an offering to God
d. Personal communication with God is analogous to communication with an
intimate personal friend.
e. A Christian shares his hopes, dreams, frustrations, needs and desires
with God in prayer.
11] Regarding prayer, what do we read in Matthew 6:5-13?
12] Which of the following statement are true?
a. the church and ministry usually dictate the amount of time one should
devote to prayer
b. one should only pray on his or her knees
c. only certain locations are appropriate for prayer
d. personal sin has no impact on God hearing our prayers
13] When we go to God in faith, with a humble and contrite spirit, He
will hear our prayers. True or False?
14] Direct access to God, the Father in prayer was made possible with...
a. the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness
b. the building of the first Temple
c. the death of Jesus Christ
d. the establishment of the New Testament church as recorded in Acts 2
15] God wants us to come boldly before His throne in prayer with full
confidence that He will both hear and answer. True or False?
16] The Bible and the study of it is...
a. communication with God
b. God's instruction book on how man should live
c. is the handbook of Salvation
d. is the textbook of eternal life
e. all of the above
17] God through the Bible is instructing man that he must personally
apply biblical laws, precepts, principles and directives in his daily
life. True or False?
18] Meditation is...
a. concentrated thinking on a spiritual topic
b. focused attention on a biblical concept or passage
c. thinking before the throne of God knowing God is listening and
d. closely akin to prayer
e. all of the above
19] Which statement is false? Fasting is...
a. a tool by which a Christian can stimulate his personal relationship
b. penance for sin
c. a self inflicted trial to remind us of our humanness and humbleness
d. reminds us our our ephemeral, fleeting existence
20] The Christian builds faith and develops the essential strength of
character necessary for salvation primarily by...
a. prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting
b. facing and handling personal problems and even tragedies
21] Regarding Godly correction and His attitude toward it, which of
these statements are true?
a. Christians are told by God not to regard lightly the discipline of
b. God disciplines those He loves
c. God is treating us as sons
d. He disciplines us for our good that we may share His holiness
22] When a Christian serves others [gives food to the hungry, drink to
the thirsty, clothing to the naked, etc.] we are actually serving Jesus
Christ Himself. True or False?
23] Only by loving one's fellow man can prayer, Bible study, meditation
and fasting have any real meaning. True or False?
24] Where in the Bible do we read this passage?
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man
may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without
thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
a. Matthew 25:17-18
b. Hebrews 4:17-18
c. James 2:17-18
d. 2 Timothy 3:17-18