I Want to Enjoy Christ More, But How?
This post follows my previous blogs, “Single Christian, Are You Enjoying Your Union with Christ?” and “Discouraged in the Battle Against Sin? Commune with the Living God!”
Understanding the dynamics of our communion with God can help us in the battle against sin, which, at times, can feel deeply discouraging. But it also sheds light on the deeper need in our hearts—to pursue joy and satisfaction in Jesus alone. As we seek freedom from sexual sin and say “No” to temptation, it’s important to feed the deepest longings in our hearts through communion with God.
Practical Ideas for Fostering Communion with God
In this life, we enjoy and commune with Christ by faith, so anything offered here is seen through that lens. Also, though the intent is practical, nothing will be a magic trick. There’s no “1, 2, 3 steps to victory!” or “Just do ______” quick fix for enjoying Jesus more. But, as we turn toward the practice of communion with God, here are 11 practical ways to pursue Christ.
- Bible Reading
Jesus’s high priestly prayer in John 17 gives us a glimpse into his own view of the Bible: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). One way to grow in holiness and commune with God is to read his Word. One habit I’ve adopted is to stop before my Bible reading and intentionally call to mind that the words on the page are God’s revelation of himself to me. I pray from Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things from your law.” Enter into reading God’s Word with an expectant and humble posture, ready to receive of Jesus.
In his earthly ministry, Jesus frequently went away to spend time in prayer communing with his Father. As with any relationship, spending time talking to someone will deepen your relational intimacy with them. Though we can’t see God, the faithful act of seeking him in personal prayer will cause you to more deeply commune with him. As we do this, he increasingly becomes our functional refuge: “Trust in him at all times O peoples! Pour out your heart before him, God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8).
In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he prays that they might come to comprehend the love that God has for them. But how do they do this? Paul says they do this with all the saints! “That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:17b–19b, my emphasis). In my own life, I’ve powerfully experienced the local church to be a primary means of learning about and communing with God. When I see a woman—tear-stained face—raising her hands in worship to God, and I know that this dear sister is deeply grieving a miscarriage, I can marvel at the worthiness of Christ as I bear her burdens with her. When I extend forgiveness or am forgiven by a brother or sister in the local church, I can worship God as the one who is faithful and just to forgive all my sins. When I forbear with a difficult-to-love brother or sister, I’m reminded of how Jesus bears with my difficult-to-love self in my many weaknesses! A healthy local church life will help us worship Christ and more deeply commune with him.
Meditation is not emptying the mind. To the contrary, it is filling the mind with biblical truth. Meditation is the Christian’s way of slowly digesting truths about God—from God’s very own words—and intentionally calling them to mind to more deeply draw out these precious truths as we seek to apply them. God’s Spirit is an active agent in this endeavor. He reminds us of the words of Christ and leads us into all truth, enabling us to obey and believe.
Paul gives an example of one of the manifestations of being filled with the Spirit: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph. 5:19). In our day, we have unprecedented access to a repository of rich songs from church history and incredible contemporary writing and music. If your heart is feeling cold, or communing with God feels too remote, try putting on a song with lyrics that specifically talk about God and his character or the gospel. Drawing near to God in song, with an aim to commune more deeply with him, is an often-neglected means of grace in private or family devotional time. Singing is not merely for congregational settings!
- Scripture Memorization
The Psalmist asks, “How can a young man (or woman!) keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word,” and just a few verses later this idea is expanded, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:9, 11). Memorizing verses, passages or whole books of the Bible is a practical way to pursue communion with God. It’s a way to draw near to him, to demonstrate how precious his words are to you, and to submit your heart to him in humility, especially in your time of need. How our Father’s heart must delight in the preciousness of his people drawing near to him using his very own words of love and help!
- Speaking about God
When the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24), he says so in the context of drawing near to God and holding fast to our confession of hope in Christ. I believe the mutual edification of speaking about Jesus with one another can be a means to help us draw near and commune with God. Believers in Jesus, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, have the unique ability to help one another behold and commune with Christ. Let us consider this deep privilege and obey the command to consider how to do just this!
- Enjoying God’s Creation
Simply beholding the beauty of the natural world, the creation of God, can help draw the believer’s heart to worship and commune with the Creator. The Psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the Glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). Getting out into God’s creation can be a way to help center your own thoughts on the greatness of the Creator. It’s not the creation itself that we worship. Rather, the creation points us to the beauty, power, and majesty of the creator—Father, Son, and Spirit.
- Serving Others
In our service to others, particularly when we use the gifts God has uniquely given us, we can rest in and commune with God. Scottish Olympic sprinter Eric Liddell famously remarked, “God made me fast and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” There is opportunity for communion with and worship of God in serving and sacrificing for others. This is one of the dichotomies of the Christian life, that, as Jesus said, “it is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
- Reading about God
The Bible is not the only book that can help our hearts engage with and commune with God. Good books about God can also stir up our affections for Christ and guide our hearts to worship and adore him. Consider reading a book about God’s character, his attributes, or the gospel. Perhaps reading a missionary biography or devotional book can help your heart grow in its affections for God himself. The purpose is not merely knowledge, but knowledge that elevates the heart to worship God for his perfections! Books that do this are a blessing and help to us in our efforts to commune with God.
In Matthew 6:16, Jesus doesn’t say “if you fast” but rather, “when you fast. . .” (my emphasis). The practice of fasting is particularly neglected in the West, but fasting can be a powerful way to commune with God. Giving an intentional time and space to the Lord, to direct your heart toward your dependence on him through fasting, can point your affections toward the truth that we are dependent on him for all things—at all times. For some, fasting from food may not be an option, so consider fasting from another legitimate thing such as entertainment, technology, or other enjoyments.
Persevere in Your Pursuit of Deeper Communion
Does this feel discouraging? Does it feel like a checklist or mountain to climb? Let your pursuit of communion with Christ begin in that very place—the place of your weakness and need. Tell God how you feel. He knows you and wants to help you see him more clearly. Cling to his promise in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” It’s not a daily mountaintop experience we’re pursuing, but rather a faithful and formative obedience—which leads to joy.