Our generation is relationship-conscious but not relationship-wise. In every heart there is a legitimate hunger to be close to someone—to love and be loved, to know and be known. People search online, in social groups, and too often in wrong places to find that one deep, personal and fulfilling connection.
The word personal is such an important word to believers; for indeed, we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One of our greatest emotional and spiritual needs, to deeply connect with another, can be met in our relationship with Him.
Sadly, in our haste to live an activity-filled life, we may miss this necessary resource for a truly fulfilling and meaningful life. We need the attitude of Paul who, after his salvation, wanted nothing more than to know Christ in a deep and full way. He wrote in his letter to the believers at Philippi: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
What an invaluable treasure it is to be able to know Jesus Christ through the written Word of God! In its pages we have the love of God for us proclaimed, His will for our lives revealed, and warnings about wrong ways and empty pursuits that seem so inviting but in reality produce wasted lives and painful regrets.
There is tremendous value in our corporate study and worship. The writer of Hebrews commands us that we are not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” in Hebrews 10:25. However, beyond our worship at church there is more; there is another fulfilling way to know and worship our Lord. It is the time when in solitude we read the Word of God and meditate upon its meaning and application for our lives. It is that time when the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts about our lives. In these quiet moments we not only learn that God is love, but He also teaches us to love. He forgives, and He can teach us to forgive. We observe Him as He serves others tirelessly, and we learn to serve in that same strength. As we study His life we learn about surrender from His experience in the garden before His crucifixion. We learn of sacrifice as He pours out His life on Calvary for us. We are confronted with these and many more truths that can then shape us into the image of Christ.
The value of a personal devotional life is not just that we know more of Christ but also that we are known of Him. In Psalm 139, as David is in hiding from King Saul, instead of becoming bitter and blaming, he asked God to search him. Listen to his words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).
The phrase “know my thoughts” carries the thought of “to make known.” In the beginning of Psalm 139, David expresses clearly that God already knows his every thought. David’s prayer is for God to reveal to him the truth of his own heart! What a life-changing experience it is to spend time with the Lord when His loving Word and Spirit can reveal to us where our thoughts and ways differ from His. It can be painful, but it is so helpful in our journey of becoming like Him.
Let me suggest four practices that will help you develop a dynamic personal time with the Lord:
We are all busy, and a quiet time in a quiet place seems to be nearly impossible. However, once you begin to experience the fulfilling time of intimacy with the Lord, you will be glad you made the time.
A time of personal devotion is not a race to accomplish a goal of reading so many chapters alone; it is a relationship to be cultivated and enjoyed.
We need to prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us from the Word of God that will challenge us to change and grow.
Allow your devotional time in the Word to lead you into a time of prayer that includes confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and intercession.
To know and be known, to love and be loved; that is the relationship that we long for. That relationship is available to all of us in our personal walk with Jesus Christ.