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A Simple Guide to Building A Personal Relationship With God

In this devotional, we will learn three key qualities to building a personal relationship with God from the life of David.
[10] Eternal One: You are My witnesses; You are My proof. You whom I chose for special purpose, My servant, in order that you would know Me, trust Me, be faithful to Me, Understand that I alone am God; no god was formed before Me, and there will be no god after Me.

Isaiah 43:10 Voice

God chose us.

He chose us for the special purpose of knowing him and trusting him, because it is personal for God. It is comforting to know that it’s not because of our performance, abilities, talents, looks, or charisma that God chooses us. His greatest desire, for all eternity, is to be in a close relationship with us. 

It is an honor to be chosen. I remember being chosen in the 7th round by the San Francisco Forty Niners in the NFL draft. It was a special feeling to be chosen out of thousands of other college players. It’s a big deal to be picked to be in a relationship with God.

God’s heart to be in relationship with us should produce a sense of intrinsic worth, gratitude, and a desire to be in a relationship with him, too.  

God’s greatest desire, for all eternity, is to be in a close relationship with us.

When we have a deep understanding of God’s desire to know us and have us know him, we can see that he not only chooses us for who we are, but has a vision for who we can become. He wants to give us the purpose of making our own special and unique impact in this world.

David’s life was a great example of what this looks like. Scripture tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart, and as a result, God used his life for a great purpose of making God known to the world.

But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

Acts 13:22 NLT

It’s inspiring to know that even with the sins, mistakes, and seemingly insurmountable adversity David experienced in his life, he was able to fulfill God’s purpose for his life because of his close relationship with God. 

“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.

Acts 13:36 NIV

David shows us how to allow our hearts to be attached to and influenced by God so we can discover and live out his purpose for us and make the difference in this world we were created to make. In this devotional, we will learn three key qualities to building a personal relationship with God from the life of David.

3 Keys

  1. Emotional Honesty – God wants us to share our whole heart with him.
  2. Relational Vulnerability – God wants us to invite him into our hearts to deeply influence and shape us.
  3. Greater Relatability – God wants us to respond to His love by loving others the same way he loves us.

Emotional Honesty

What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. [3] There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration.

Psalm 32:1-3 TLB

Our first key to a close relationship with God is the willingness to be emotionally honest with him about our sins, temptations, and weaknesses. Emotional honesty isn’t just saying what we have done or thought, but having a heart that works to feel the impact our heart and sins have had on God.

But emotional honesty doesn’t just involve exposing our hearts and feeling horrible about ourselves. The scripture says it actually brings joy and relief. 

The scripture also says that when we choose to suppress, ignore, or run from our emotions, we will end up frustrated and miserable. It is important for us to identify ways that we can handle our emotions and sin that lead to misery instead of freedom, so that we can choose to deal with our emotions and let them bring us closer to God.

Disguise our emotions

He who hates, disguises it with his lips, But he stores up deceit in his heart.

Proverbs 26:24 AMP 

We are deceitful about our emotions toward others to prevent people from identifying our true feelings.  

Distract Our Emotions 

[13] Laughter can mask heartache, and joy often gives way to grief.

Proverbs 14:13 Voice

We distract from our emotions with entertainment, food, social media, music, pornography, emotional affairs or relationships, etc.

Deny Our Emotions

“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”

Proverbs 23:35 (NIV)

We deny and numb our emotions with drugs, alcohol, etc. to protect our emotions from potential future hurt or harm.

Deal With Our Emotions

[6] Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom.

Psalm 51:6 AMP

We truly deal with our emotions when we have a truthful conversation with God. We allow his truth into our hearts which can be found in scriptures, so we can learn to identify, feel, and deal with our hearts with God.

These first 3 stop us from being emotionally honest with God and letting him teach us to be internally strong and mature with our emotions. They allow us to stay hardened to our emotions.

We eventually become enslaved to our emotions and the sins that accompany them. Emotional honesty with God about what we are feeling leads us to healing and growing our emotional life.

Pause and reflect

  • How do you handle challenging emotions like guilt, insecurity, disappointment, and discontentment?
  • How can you give yourself time daily to reflect and let down emotionally with God?
  • How will you commit to faithfully feeling and dealing with these challenging emotions?

Take action

  • Carve out time daily to reflect and let down with God in prayer.
  • Find scriptures in the Psalms that help you connect to the emotions you feel and meditate on how you can take those feelings to God in prayer. 

Relational Vulnerability

[16-17] Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Psalm 51:16-17 MSG

It is comforting to know that above all else God desires us to have hearts that want to be close with him, hearts that are aware of and deeply moved by the relational impact our sin has on him, and hearts that seek reconciliation for the goal of being close to God. This process requires vulnerability from us. 

Vulnerability can be defined as a willingness to show emotion or to allow one’s weakness to be seen or known; willingness to risk being hurt or attacked.

Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” 

Like David says in Psalm 51, relational vulnerability comes when we stop relying on our performance, the image we put forward, or all the things we are “sacrificing.” Instead, we exercise the courage to be weak with God so he can love us and heal us from the impact of our negative thoughts that we cover up with sin and pride.  

[4] In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. [5] His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. [6] He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

Psalm 10:4-6 NIV

One sign that we are not being vulnerable in our relationships with God and people is an increase of pride in our thoughts and hearts. Like the scripture says, there ends up not being any room for God. Here are four prideful thoughts we may have:

  • I have to be perfect to be loved.
  • I have to be first to be loved.
  • I have to get what I want to be loved.
  • I have to feel good to be loved.

These thoughts are my self-reliant ways that lead me to believing my performance or efforts are what make me strong. They keep me from being vulnerable with God and expressing my need for his mercy and help when I feel shaken or harmed by life or others.  

I remember years ago being in the hospital with clots in my lungs. The clots were so severe that I had to be admitted into the ICU. I was there for seven days. In the evenings at the ICU, I remember hearing family members crying for their loved ones who passed away. It sobered me as I realized the ICU was a serious place to be. The nurse who was tending to me would remind me that I had almost died.

During this 7-day stay in ICU, I had a procedure done that was supposed to help dissolve the clots in my lungs, but instead it almost killed me. I went into afib (atrial fibrillation) during the surgery and they had to stop. When they told me I would go back into the same surgery two days later, I remember being angry and asking myself “how can I be loved when I feel so bad?”

My emotions and fear were out of control. I was hardly able to sleep in anticipation the night before the surgery. The more self-talking I did, the more stressed and anxious I got. The more I refused to accept the depth of need I had, the more depressed I got.

I finally broke down and started praying vulnerable prayers to God, letting him know how weak and afraid I was and that I desperately needed his help. While I was praying, I meditated on this scripture:

[5] Why am I so overwrought? Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me and is my life.

Psalm 42:5 Voice

God answered the prayers by helping me sleep, then he helped me have a successful surgery and I eventually made a full recovery which the doctors were shocked by how quickly my recovery happened. I learned that vulnerable prayers are the ones that move God.

[1] …Then, at last, he bent down and listened to my cry. [2] He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now he’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along his ascending path.

Psalm 40:1-2 TPT

Pause and reflect

  • On a scale of 1-5 how relationally vulnerable would others say you are?
  • Which prideful thought is keeping you from being vulnerable?
  • How can you start exercising the courage to be vulnerable with God and others each day?

Take action

  • Commit to daily relationships that help you see your blind spots, sins and weaknesses so you can grow in your relational vulnerability with God.

Greater Relatability 

When we practice emotional honesty and relational vulnerability with God, then it will lead to greater relatability with others.

10 God, create a pure heart in me, and make my spirit strong again. 11 Don’t push me away or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey you. 13 I will teach the guilty how you want them to live, and the sinners will come back to you.

Psalm 51:10-13 ERV

David celebrated the joy he experienced in having a personal relationship with God. His joy and gratitude were a result of his honesty and vulnerability with God and he was inspired to help others experience a personal relationship with God, too.

Our gratitude for the way God works in our lives should produce a desire to help others experience this same kind of close, freeing, and empowering relationship with God. I have often struggled in both my desire and efficacy in helping others develop their relationship with God.

I am grateful as these struggles have always been helpful reminders that when I get stuck like this, there is something I am choosing not to be honest about or vulnerable about in my personal relationship with God. It is only when I’m growing in these two areas that I am motivated, excited, and effective in loving people and showing them God, too.

Pause and reflect

  • Who can you help develop a personal relationship with God?

Take action

  • Choose someone in your life to help strengthen their existing relationship with God.
  • Decide to grow in emotional honesty and relational vulnerability together.

Next steps

God’s Word is clear that when we make our relationship with him personal by being honest and vulnerable, God listens and moves on our behalf.  

Take time to read the book of Psalms and focus on David’s honesty and vulnerability with God and others.  

Study I Samuel and juxtapose the life of Saul and the life of David. Look at how their relationships with God differed.

Check out these Deep Spirituality resources to further your study:

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