God will surely do this for you, for he always does just what he says, and he is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, even Christ our Lord.1 Corinthians 1:9 (TLB)
Just like a close friend extending an invitation to spend time with us, God is always reaching out to us because he wants to be our friend.
As we think about our relationship with God, it’s important to ask ourselves how we are treating him in return. If God is inviting me into a wonderful friendship, how have I been responding?
I find that it’s very easy to take God’s friendship for granted. I know he will always hold up his side of the friendship; he will be available to me at all times, listen to me, care for me, and graciously forgive me.
But I rarely examine what kind of friend I am to God. And I can’t have a close relationship with God if it’s largely one-sided.
In this study we’ll look at how the Scriptures teach us we can be a good friend to God. You can use these thirteen questions to reflect honestly on your friendship with God and find ways to grow closer to him.
Remember that the goal is not perfection, but growing intimacy and experiencing the security and strength of being God’s friend.
How much energy and effort am I putting into my relationship with God?
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.Psalm 127:1 (AMP)
Building something takes energy. Even if you’ve never done it, you know that a lot of labor goes into building a house. And it’s worth it; in the end, all that hard work produces a secure, safe shelter.
Likewise, building our relationship with God takes spiritual energy and effort (John 6:29, Luke 6:46-49). In the next point, we’ll discuss what spiritual energy and effort look like, but for now, it’s important to stop and reflect on what you’ve been putting most of your energy into – your friendship with God, or something else in your life?
The Bible tells us we are “laboring in vain” when we try to build our lives without God. I’ve done this many times. Most recently I’ve seen myself laboring to find security in my job performance, spending my energy on trying to finish my never-ending to-do list and striving for the approval of people around me.
But ultimately I run into situations that are beyond me. And because I haven’t been putting energy into building my friendship with God, I find myself without any confidence that God will guide me and have my back.
So I decided recently to take walks on my lunch break to pray instead of working through lunch and trying to figure everything out myself. Every time, God gives me ideas I would never have come up with on my own.
God can build my life better than I can. My energy and effort would be best spent in building a close friendship with him and watching him do things I could never do myself.
- How much work or energy have you been putting into your friendship with God?
- What other areas of your life do you tend to pour more effort into building than your relationship with God?
Am I giving God all of my heart, mind, and strength?
To love God with all your heart and mind and strength is very important. So is loving your neighbor as you love yourself. These things are more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”Mark 12:33 (NIrV)
If we’re going to be close friends with God, we have to make sure we have our priorities straight. God doesn’t want religious performances or rituals — he wants our love.
That means we can’t measure our relationship with God based on our church attendance, number of minutes spent reading the Bible, or even our good deeds. We have to look deeper.
So how do you know if you’re loving God with all your heart, mind, and strength?
Love God with all your heart
The heart is the center of our emotions and desires. So one way we can love God with all our hearts is by pouring out our heart to him each day. (Psalm 62:8 NLT)
How eager are you to pray and pour out your sins and feelings to God? Do you share with him your anger towards your boss, the envy you had towards your neighbor’s new Tesla, and talk through the fight you had with your spouse? Or do you resist prayer because those feelings make you uncomfortable?
Love God with all your mind
The mind is the center of our thoughts. To love God with all our mind, we have to ask ourselves what dominates our thoughts.
How devoted are you to God’s Word? Do you look forward to reading your Bible because you are excited to see where God is trying to lead you today?
How much effort do you make to take your thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and believe Scriptures more than your own thoughts?
A good way to gauge your level of devotion is to examine how much effort you put into absorbing the Word. For help with this, check out our Bible Study Guide for tips on creative ways to study the Bible, including incorporating different translations, audio Bible, commentaries, and more.
Love God with all your strength
How much physical effort do you make to be close to God?
This could mean doing the work of finding places where you can pray without distractions, or taking walks to pray throughout your day, or going to bed earlier at night so you can have quality time with God in the morning.
- Would God say you’ve been loving him with all your heart, mind, and strength?
- What are some practical things you could do to make your friendship with God your top priority?
How much does God’s Word influence my heart?
I delight to fulfill your will, my God, for your living words are written upon the pages of my heart.”Psalm 40:8 (TPT)
Psalm 40 gives us a great example of a close friendship with God. You don’t get the sense that spending time with God was a heartless ritual or religious exercise for David, who wrote this psalm.
Instead, he says God’s words were written on his heart. That means they went deep into his life and changed his desires and emotions.
Blessed are you who give yourselves over to GOD…Doing something for you, bringing something to you— that’s not what you’re after. Being religious, acting pious— that’s not what you’re asking for. You’ve opened my ears so I can listen.Psalm 40:4-5 MSG
A sure sign for me that my friendship with God is distant is when I feel like Scriptures bounce off my heart. I begin reading the Bible out of duty, knowing it’s something I should do as a Christian. But when I walk away just as emotional or fearful or self-consumed as I was when I started reading the Bible, I know I’m not really giving my heart over to God.
- Would you say these verses of Psalm 40 describe your relationship with God? Why or why not?
Are you the same on the outside as you are on the inside?
Ah, to be in the ripest time of life once more- when the intimacies of friendship with God enfolded my tent…Job 29:4 Voice
When I was in my prime, God’s friendship was felt in my home.Job 29:4 NLT
Job tells us that the intimacies of friendship with God should “enfold our tent.” In other words, our friendship with God should overflow into our lives and the way we treat people around us.
Usually the way we are at home is most reflective of our true selves. It’s easy to put on our best behavior outside our home, so a good measure of how our relationship with God is really going is our home life.
A few helpful questions to reflect on your home life are:
- How much faith do you bring to your home?
- How much do you share scriptures with each other at home?
- How often do you pray with or for your spouse or roommates?
- How honest are your conversations with your spouse, kids, and/or roommates?
Suppose we say that we share life with God but still walk in the darkness. Then we are lying. We are not living out the truth. But suppose we walk in the light, just as he is in the light. Then we share life with one another. And the blood of Jesus, his Son, makes us pure from all sin.  Suppose we claim we are without sin. Then we are fooling ourselves. The truth is not in us.1 John 1:6-8 (NIrV)
As this scripture tells us, it’s not enough to just “ say” we share life with God – we actually have to live out the truth of the Scriptures. In other words, we have to walk the walk.
This scripture also says sometimes we lie about how our friendship with God is actually going. We can fool ourselves and other people about how we’re really doing.
These are some of the common ways I fool myself about how my relationship with God is going:
- Excuse-making – I tell myself I’m too emotional, too busy, or too overwhelmed to connect with God.
- Minimizing – I make my relationship with God sound better than it is. For example, I say I read several chapters of the Bible, but don’t say that I was distracted the whole time and don’t remember any of it.
- Justifying – I make up rules in my head to justify being distant from God. As long as I prayed for a set amount of time, I can say “I prayed” if someone asks me, even if I know I refused to pray about major areas of my life.
- How much excuse making, minimizing, and justifying Goes on in your walk with God?
How much do I rely on and trust God?
Take care, brothers and sisters, that there not be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to trust and rely on the Lord, a heart] that turns away from the living God.  But continually encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today” [and there is an opportunity], so that none of you will be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [its cleverness, delusive glamour, and sophistication].Hebrews 3:12-13 (AMP)
This translation describes a “wicked, unbelieving heart” as one that just refuses to trust and rely on God. If we’re going to have a close friendship with God, we actually have to choose to trust and rely on him.
Marriage gives us a good illustration of this. One of the things that hurts my relationship with my husband the most is when I refuse to trust and rely on him. I get afraid he’ll let me down, but I end up assuming the worst of him. I get mad at him unfairly for not meeting needs that I didn’t even tell him I had. It’s hard for us to be close if I refuse to believe he cares.
We can do the same thing with God. Even if you go through the right motions of reading the Bible and praying, it matters how much you choose to trust and rely on God in your daily life.
Some signs I’m refusing to trust and rely on God are:
- Fear and anxiety overtake me
- I don’t really believe prayer works
- I try to come up with solutions for problems on my own
- I don’t really trust or believe God cares about me
- I grab for happiness or security myself instead of trusting God’s promises to take care of me
This scripture also tells us that If our hearts are unbelieving, we’ll end up in “settled rebellion” spiritually. For me, this looks like going through the motions of being a Christian, but rebelling against really believing or obeying what God says in the Scriptures.
- What are some signs for you that you’re refusing to trust and rely on God?
Have I lost any love or passion for God?
 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. Revelation 2:4-5 NLT
One difficult truth in the Scriptures is this: love for God can be lost. This passage from the book of Revelations was written to a church known for its hard work and patient endurance (Revelation 1:2-3). That means even the most religious and hard-working among us can drift and lose our love for God.
The story of King Asa in the Old Testament is a great cautionary tale about losing our love for God. In the beginning of his life, Asa had strong faith in God and courageously won battles:
As long as Asa lived, he was faithful to the LORD, even though he did not destroy the local shrines in Israel.2 Chronicles 15:17 (CEV)
But along the way, Asa seems to have lost his faith that God would take care of him:
Asa’s feet became infected in his 39th year as king. Even though the infection was very serious, Asa did not go to the LORD for help. He went to the doctors instead.2 Chronicles 16:12 (ERV)
The eyes of the LORD go around looking in all the earth for people who are faithful to him so that he can make them strong. Asa, you did a foolish thing. So from now on you will have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (ERV)
I don’t want to be someone who fights hard for faith in the first half of my life, only to lose it in the second half. If we want to finish our lives faithful, the story of King Asa is a good reminder that we have to keep working on our friendship with God so we don’t lose it.
It can be uncomfortable to admit that we don’t really love God anymore, especially if we’ve been churchgoers for sometime. But we have to be willing to explore this truth so that we can strengthen the love we have left:`
 Wake up! Strengthen what you have left before it dies completely. I have found that what you are doing is less than what my God wants.  I know what you do, that you are not hot or cold. I wish that you were hot or cold!  But because you are lukewarm-neither hot, nor cold-I am ready to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:2,15-16 NCV
Here are some questions to reflect on to reveal some areas our love might have grown lukewarm:
- How much do you desire to pray daily?
- How much time and energy do you devote to Bible study?
- How much do you enjoy sharing scriptures with others to encourage them?
- How much do you love serving other people?
Does love for God overflow from my heart?
The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart.Luke 6:45 (AMP)
Our mouths will overflow with whatever we store in our hearts. So if our mouths overflow with fear, anger, negativity, or unbelief, then we know we’re not storing love for God or Scripture in our hearts.
Take some time to ask a close friend or spouse what they think your “overflow” is. Do you overflow with faith and love for God? Or something else?
Am I a better friend to the world or to God?
You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.James 4:4 (CSB)
Here’s another sometimes difficult truth in the Scriptures: you can’t be friends with God and the world at the same time.
“Friendship with the world” means loving and agreeing with the world’s values, the world’s definition of success, and the world’s priorities more than God’s. The world values feeling good, looking good, and achieving things (1 John 2:15-17).
“The world” is the antithesis of everything Jesus stood for. While we’re here on earth, we’re engulfed in a culture that is obsessed with self: self-preservation, self-absorption, selfish ambition, and so on. When what matters most to us are things like the prestige of our career, the size of our home, or how good we look in our clothes, it’s a reflection of a heart that is aligned with the world. Jesus came to the world to love, serve and save the people in it, not assimilate to its way of life.
Being a friend to God, though, means we value things like faith, humility, servitude, and love.
Even if we’ve become more of a “friend to the world” than a friend to God, we can still come back to him:
 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.James 4:7-8,10 CSB
We can rebuild our friendship with God by making decisions to:
- Submit: decide to let go of any worldly values and submit to living God’s way.
- Resist: decide to say “no” to sin and temptations of darkness.
- Humble yourself: decide to admit your weaknesses and ask God and others for help.
- Are there any areas of your life in which you’ve become more of a “friend of the world” instead of a friend of God?
- What decisions could you make to draw near to God today?
How much do I enjoy being generous?
It is important that you use the wealth of this world to demonstrate your friendship with God by winning friends and blessing others. Then, when this world fails and falls apart, your generosity will provide you with an eternal reward.Luke 16:9 (TPT)
God wants us to use our resources to demonstrate our friendship with him by winning friends and blessing others. That means our friendship with God should overflow into generosity towards others.
Serving the community around us is actually an important part of our friendship with God. It’s also a way we can show people who don’t know God what God’s generosity is like.
How much do you enjoy being generous with your time, energy, and wealth?
How much do I respect God?
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.Psalm 25:14 ESV
Such wicked people are detestable to the LORD, but he offers his friendship to the godly.Proverbs 3:32 NLT
If we want to be friends with God, we have to examine how much we respect him. The “fear” of God in Psalm 25 isn’t fear of him being angry or upset, it’s more like awe and respect for how strong and powerful he is.
Imagine if you were out playing basketball, and Michael Jordan walked up and held his hand out for the ball. I would probably stop what I was doing and hand him the ball, with deep respect for the fact I am not even in the same realm of basketball skills as Michael Jordan. There would even be some healthy fear in me of not trying to pretend to be better than I am, knowing he could put me in my place instantaneously.
I think that’s something like the kind of “fear” we should have for God – respecting how much bigger, stronger, and wiser he is than I am on my best day. That kind of respect for God is important to our relationship with him. When I’m confident and aware that God is much wiser and stronger than me, I’m more likely to come to him humbly in prayer and trust him.
Proverbs 3:32 tells us that God gives his friendship to the godly. To be “godly” is to conform to the laws and wishes of God, and I think we’ll do that when we respect who he really is.
It should be noted, too, that having an appropriate fear of God will help us overcome our fear of people (Psalm 29:25 NET) or (Galatians 1:10 NLT). If we fear people more than God, it means we think people are greater than God. We’ll end up serving and living for their approval instead of God’s.
- What does your fear of people reflect about how much you respect God?
- How do you think developing a healthy fear of God would help your relationship with him?
Do I feel secure that God loves me at my worst?
Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God…Romans 5:9 (MSG)
Friendship with God is amazing. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God. That means God loves you at your worst moment.
Take a moment to think of what you’re like when you’re at your worst.
Yep, God loved you even then. Knowing this can make us feel secure that we don’t have to perform perfectly for God. We can just be grateful for Jesus’ death on the cross and how God loves and accepts us. And, confident of this, we can be real with God and other people about who we really are.
Am I experiencing God’s strength and power?
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.Isaiah 40:31 AMPC
Great blessings come from knowing God and making an effort to look for him. God promises that our strength and power will be renewed. We’ll be able to run and not be weary, faint, or tired.
I don’t think this scripture is describing brute strength or muscling through life. I think it’s saying that God wants to strengthen us, and give us his enormous power to help us handle life.
Our human flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41), and God knows that (Psalm 103:14). He wants to share his supernatural power to help us have the energy to handle life here on earth.
The question is, will we stop and look for that strength or keep trying to handle life on our own?
- Have you been experiencing God’s renewed strength and power?
- In what areas have you been feeling weary, faint, and tired? Start asking God for his supernatural help to strengthen you in those areas of your life.
How do I feel about intimacy?
The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.2 Corinthians 13:14 (MSG)
Friendship with God is intimate. That means it’s close, and he wants to see and know everything — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Intimacy can be scary for me, because I find security in my performance and perfection. I fear rejection and it’s hard for me to open up about my flaws and weaknesses.
Knowing this about myself is important because fearing intimacy will affect my friendship with God. I might go through all the right motions, but resist really being honest about who I am and I’ll end up feeling distant from God anyway.
God’s love can help me overcome this fear of intimacy, if I’m willing to trust what he says in the Scriptures more than my own emotions and fear.
- How do you feel about intimacy?
- How do you think your feelings about intimacy affect your relationship with God?
Friendship with God is an incredible blessing that makes us secure, strong, and loved even at our worst. Like any relationship, our friendship with God is not static. It grows throughout our lives and needs constant nurturing to continue to thrive. These questions can help us reflect any time we feel like our relationship with God needs strengthening so that we can grow stronger in our love and intimacy with him.