We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him.1 John 4:16 – Amplified Bible
The 2020 Olympics will forever be one of the most unforgettable Olympics—not only because of the pandemic, but because of the many personalities that jumped out from the Olympians themselves.
From hair color, to tattoos, to unique uniforms, the Olympians of 2020 made the Olympics personal for themselves. I think this resonated with me because, as a high school and college track and field athlete, I often created personal moments as I trained and prepared for my races.
The night before my events, I would lay in bed and just visualize every aspect of my race. Then, unlike the traditional cheers received at the start of the race, I only allowed my friends and family to cheer for me after the gun went off so that I could focus. These choices were personal and unique; I knew myself well enough to know what I needed.
Likewise, our relationship with God should have a lot of personal touches. Like 1 John 4 tells us, we need to come to know God through personal experience. We have to be willing to put in the creativity and effort to connect with God in the way that works best for us.
When we don’t make the effort to make our relationship with God personal, we end up becoming what I call a zombie Christian—going through the motions without much heart. I can definitely get this way and when I do, it’s not pretty. When I’m not inspired, I literally won’t do anything.
As “zombie Christians,” we begin to lack the spiritual power that enables us to faithfully conquer the everyday challenges we face. In this devotional, we’ll discover creative ways to make our relationship with God personal.
Rethink connecting with God
Whether you are a Christian or not, it can be easy to associate God with rules. While rules are sometimes helpful, they often limit our ability to think outside the box in how we connect with God.
The Lord has said: “These people praise me with their words, but they never really think about me. They worship me by repeating rules made up by humans.Isaiah 29:13 – Contemporary English Version
The rules we may associate with God are things like:
- Believing we need to be serious with him—no joking around because he’s God.
- Believing we have to stick to a certain ritual or routine of prayer or Bible study – like only reading the King James Version of the Bible or saying rote prayers.
This kind of thinking can make for a boring relationship with God. Change is good! It’s exciting and renewing. We should constantly be striving to renew and rethink our relationship with God so that we are inspired to grow and change and able to inspire others around us.
God wants us to think about him. He wants us to consider what he laughs about, how he feels, what he thinks about. When I pray with my daughter at bedtime, we will ask God what he does while we sleep because we know that he doesn’t sleep. Sometimes we tell him we hope he had a good time watching movies with us. I am trying to teach her to make God personal in her own way, bit by bit.
‘You should love the Lord, your God completely: Love him with all your mind. Love him with all that you are. Love him in all that you think and all that you do.” ‘Mark 12:30 EASY
God calls us to love him with all that we are. Galatians 5:26 in the Message Translation tells us that “each of us is an original.” This means that while there are fundamental ways to connect with God—like reading the Bible and praying—we can and should be creative in how we connect in these ways, so that it is specific and personal to us.
Pause and reflect
- What is original about you? (hobbies, health, interests, etc.)
- How often do you include these unique parts of yourself in the way you connect with God?
- Make a list of your talents, interests, and hobbies and pray about how you can use them to connect with God.
Let’s take a look at some ways we can get personal with God.
On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.  She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus’ favorite disciple and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him.”  Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first.John 20:1-4 CEV
In this story, two disciples are trying to see what happened to Jesus and the unnamed disciple happened to be faster than Peter. He could have jogged next to Peter so Peter didn’t feel bad, but in my opinion he was a beast and ran ahead. He gave his best to go see what happened to Jesus.
This may be a funny example, but I relate to it as an athlete. If you are an active person, you can use that to connect with God. There have been times where I felt so much that I had a hard time praying and I just needed to run or go for a bike ride to let off some steam before I was able to make space to talk to God.
Physical activity can actually help us concentrate better on the Bible and prayer. A recent article by The Conversation entitled Physical activity is good for your concentration – here’s why says,
“For people looking to improve their concentration, exercise is often recommended as the antidote – and for good reason, as research shows that physical activity can improve concentration in people of all ages.”The Conversation – Physical activity is good for your concentration – here’s why
To put this into practice, try walking or going for a bike ride while listening to an audio bible or a Bible-based podcast. Then, try kickstarting your prayer with a physical activity of your choice. Some people go for walks, ride bikes, or incorporate their favorite sports or activities in their times with God. A friend of mine told me they’d go out on the soccer field and shoot goals, juggle the ball, and stay until they were able to let down with God.
Pause and reflect
- Try taking a walk, going to a batting cage, or shooting around on the court the next time you need a kick start to your prayer or Bible study.
Connect through music
David and all the Israelites were dancing and singing with all their might to honor the LORD. They were playing harps, lyres, drums, rattles, and cymbals.2 Samuel 6:5 GNT
I love music. It’s so powerful. Music helps us connect with our own feelings and with other people in ways that we can’t even explain sometimes. Like David, sometimes, singing a song or dancing is what we need to connect with God.
“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”Martin Luther
Maybe listening to, creating, or singing a song will be what helps you take your relationship with God to the next level. You don’t need to be a singer or a songwriter to try this because the goal is connection, not perfection. Here is one of my current favorites that helps me when I need a reminder that God’s got my back.
Making playlists can also help you process and become aware of your emotions. You can find songs that help you express what has been hard to articulate, understand what God may feel toward you, and motivate or inspire you to take action.
- Make a playlist of songs that speak to you and help you see God and believe that God hears you.
Look at the splendor of your skies, your creative genius glowing in the heavens. When I gaze at your moon and your stars, mounted like jewels in their settings, I know you are the fascinating artist who fashioned it all! …Psalm 8:3 – The Passion Translation
We serve a creative God. He created amazing things in the world, and he created us: Yet still, Yahweh, you are our Father. We are like clay and you are our Potter. Each one of us is the creative, artistic work of your hands.Isaiah 64:8 – The Passion Translation
We are God’s artwork – the creative, artistic work of his hands. This means that we are all unique and creative in our own unique ways. A creative way to connect with God can be through drawing, rapping, writing, and more.
I love to connect with God through poetry. This is probably my favorite way. Looking back on all the poems I’ve written over the years, I’ve noticed that the poems I wrote before I had a relationship with God were pretty much prayers. I often felt like it was the only way I could really express all that I was feeling at the time.
This hasn’t changed for me. I have a book of poems that are snapshots of moments and memories in my life. Sometimes I write them before I pray or read, and sometimes I’m so inspired by what I read in the Bible that I write a poem about it.
The next time you pray, try rapping or creating a poem (it doesn’t even have to rhyme); it might be just what you need to make God more personal.
Create an inspirational space
Then the LORD said to Moses,  “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—  to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.Exodus 31:1-5 NIV
God can give us all kinds of skills, and if he has given you the ability to create beautiful things you should bring that into your relationship with God. One way you can do that is by creating a special space to spend time with God. Not only will you be more inspired to spend time with God in this special space, but you will also be sharing part of your heart with him by telling him the things you love.
During the height of the lockdown in 2020, I made space in my closet and on my patio with lights, candles, and music. It was my special place to spend time with God—while my daughter was asleep. Once she woke up, it became her special place.
Pause and reflect
- What kinds of things could you include in your “special place”? What makes you feel calm, happy, and focused on God?
Imitate how they made it personal in the Bible
At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.Psalm 5:3 TPT
This is one of David’s prayers. What is inspiring to me is how he prayed to God “at each and every sunrise.” This is just one of many examples in the Bible of men and women praying to God. I am not an early riser, but there really is something special about getting out and talking with God early in the morning. It is still, quiet, and freeing.
What is also so personal about David’s prayer is that it is filled with so much faith and conviction. He firmly believes that God will answer him, which shows us a glimpse of how much David worked to make his relationship with God personal.
- Look up instances in the Bible where people prayed to God and choose a few to imitate.
Don’t stop until it’s personal
As Jacob went on his way, God’s angels met him.  When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s camp!” He named that place Mahanaim [Two Camps]. So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until dawn.  When the man saw that he could not win against Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that it was dislocated as they wrestled.  Then the man said, “Let me go; it’s almost dawn.” But Jacob answered, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”  So the man asked him, “What’s your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.  The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel [He Struggles With God], because you have struggled with God and with men—and you have won.”Genesis 32:1-2, 24-28 GW
When Jacob was born, he fought to be first. He was a fighter from birth. So it is fitting that Jacob made his relationship with God personal by wrestling with him. He wouldn’t give up. He didn’t want to leave his time with God the same way he went in. He fought so determinedly that the angel asked him for his name.
One thing I take away from this story is that when we do special things to make our relationship with God personal, God gets more personal with us. He transforms us.
Pause and reflect
- How can you start making your relationship with God more personal?
We’ve looked at 6 ways you make our relationship with God more personal. Just like in any relationship, we can’t keep doing the same thing and stay inspired. Whether we are getting to know God for the first time or trying to keep our faith strong after being a Christian for many years, we have to continue to make God personal in our lives.
I hope this devotional has sparked some creative juices in your mind and heart. Here are a few additional Bible studies to help you as you build new connections with God.