“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore 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, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” – James 4: 6-10.

Let me ask you a question: Would you walk up to someone you don’t know, somebody you have no relationship with, and ask them for a favor? You meet someone at the checkout line in Publix and inform them these are the things that you would like them to do for you. You tell them they can start by paying for your groceries. Before they can answer you tell them, “We can get to know each other at another time…you understand how it is, right?” 

If you had the chutzpah to do that, you would get some pretty interesting responses. You may even get some pointed remarks about your ancestors. And why not. Requests without relationships won’t get far. If that’s true when we speak with other people, is it true with God as well? How many of us talk or pray to God only when we want something? How often do we give God His to-do list without seeking a relationship? Prayer is relationship, not just requests. If God is a complete stranger to us and the only time we talk to Him is when we want something from Him, then we don’t have the level of relationship God desires to have with us.

A relationship with God is impossible without prayer. That’s because prayer is communication, and where there’s no communication, there’s no relationship. Prayer is pouring out our thoughts to God and paying attention to what God is thinking. It’s experiencing God’s love and expressing our love for Him.

Prayer is having a real conversation in which we not only talk to Him, but also listen to Him and get to know Him and become closer and closer to Him. As prayer lifts our hearts to God, it also fills God’s heart with pleasure. The Bible says, “…the prayer of the upright pleases him.“ (Proverbs 15:8). God loves us to come to Him in prayer. God enjoys conversations with His children. God savors the praises of His people. 

Belonging to Jesus Christ isn’t just a set of beliefs or behaviors – it’s a relationship. That relationship certainly involves believing certain truths and behaving in certain ways, but at the heart of the relationship is a personal connection with God.

Do you long to know God better, yet find all sorts of things getting in the way? Do you find prayer a struggle? Well, don’t give up. Don’t stop listening and talking to God just because it’s not always easy. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to pray and stay connected with Christ. Use the 21-day prayer challenge to connect and improve your relationship with God through prayer.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If desire for God is a thermometer in your relationship with Him, on a scale of 1 to 10 (highest) where would you rate your desire right now, and why? What role does prayer play in your answer? In your relationship with God? 
  2. Psalms 37:3-5: What do these verses say about relationship with God?
  3. How can we can build our relationship a little better with Jesus Christ over the next week?