One of the many reasons I love the Psalms is because of the intimacy they show between God and His people. And by intimacy, I don’t mean the syrupy, saccharine stuff that fits the CCM caricature. I mean, true, deep intimacy of the kind that can say, “Oh Lord, how majestic is your name” while also saying, “My God, why have you forsaken me”. The kind of intimacy that characterizes David’s trust in Psalm 23, and the anonymous psalmist’s in Psalm 91. The kind that allows us to say “I say this about the Lord, my shelter and my stronghold, my God in whom I trust…” (Psalm 91:2, NET).
But in all honesty, few of us experience that kind of intimacy with God. At least, not consistently. All of us, even the psalmists themselves, experience a wavering intimacy with God. Our hearts are prone to wander. Our love grows cold. We are tempted to love lesser things with a greater intensity than we love the Lord. But, thankfully, the Lord draws us our affections back to Him.
Tools to help us know God better
But just because this is a common experience among all of us, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to increase our intimacy with God. To help us know God better. So how do we do that? There are three extremely helpful and practical habits to build into your life, habits that are far from revolutionary but are definitely life-changing.
Read your Bible consistently
When I say read your Bible consistently, I mean read it on a regular basis. So how do you do that?
- Read a little bit every day, to whatever capacity you can. Use a structured plan if you want (there are plenty online). Pick one book of the Bible and camp out in it until it’s mastered you. You can even take the really simple approach of starting at Genesis 1:1 and keep reading regularly until you get to Revelation 22:20. (And then start over again.)
- Choose a translation that works for you. We all have our preferences within our various traditions and theological tribes, but there is no one right translation. So choose one that fits you well and go for it. Whether it’s the NET, CSB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, NASB—or even one that leans more toward being a paraphrase like the NLT—read one that works for you, and helps you love Jesus more through His Word.
- Try different mediums. If you struggle with reading in general, try listening to the Bible. I love the Dwell app for this, which offers multiple translations, listening plans, and lots of other features.
- Read expecting to hear from God. As Christians, we believe God’s primary way of speaking to us is through His Word. So come to the Bible expecting to hear from Him. Pray and ask Him to speak to you through it and to help you know Him better as a result.
Every relationship requires communication, including our relationship with God. Prayer is the way we do that, because, at its most basic level, prayer is talking to God. There isn’t a specialized vocabulary that is required to pray, nor is there a specific tone, posture, or time of day. Pray the way the Psalms illustrate and the rest of Scripture encourages: openly, honestly, earnestly about anything and everything, in all times and all places, alone and with others.
Commit to Christian community
When Jesus saved us, He didn’t save us into an isolated, “Just me and Jesus” type of experience. He saved us to become part of His family, with both eternal and temporal expressions. And being a part of community actually helps us to know God better if for no other reason than we get to see His love on display through others. We get to one another in the faith and spur one another on to love and good works. We have the responsibility to confront one another in love when we sin, and the privilege of bearing one another’s burdens as we grow together to be more like Jesus. We need one another to grow in holiness, and ultimately to know God better.