How Do You Have A Relationship With God?
If you spend much time around a Christian, sooner or later you will hear the phrase having a personal relationship with God. When first hearing such a phrase, any person will ask (with good reason) how someone is supposed to have a relationship with a being they have never met, can not see, and have not heard.
How Most Religious Folks Explain It
As an explanation, many well-meaning Christians will explain that you can develop a personal relationship with God by seeing Jesus. They might also suggest developing a relationship with God in the same way you first developed a relationship with your spouse. Wondering how you could possibly see someone who is no longer on Earth, or date the God of the Universe, you shake your head, believing that Christian folks are about one cylinder short of having a full engine.
How The Bible Explains It
Actually, the Bible provides a clear answer. In case you were wondering, we trust the Bible because it is the only spiritual writing that has been proven to be true. For more information, see our page entitled How Do You Know The Bible Is True?
A passage helpful for explaining a relationship with God is Matthew chapter 6, verses 9-13. (People familiar with the Bible write this Mat 6:9-13 as a type of Bible shorthand.) In this passage, Jesus is teaching His disciples (followers who are learning from Him) how to pray. Prayer was not unknown, but a lot of people prayed to idols or recited special words over and over, so Jesus' disciples wanted to know what method (or words) He recommended. Jesus gave them this example. For your convenience, we reproduced the New King James Version of this famous passage below.
9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
The first two words of this model prayer tell us a great deal about relationships. First, notice that Jesus starts out with the word our, not the word my. The reason is that God is not only the father of the person praying, but of others also. In this context, the our includes the horizontal relationship with other people who are children of God. Today, since we can Get right with God through Jesus, the word our includes all Christians.
Second, the word Father implies a vertical relationship with God. Note that the relationship is not that of a wife to a husband, two people dating one another, or a neighbor to another neighbor. It is a child to a father relationship. Those people who do not acknowledge God (such as an atheist, agnostic, or someone following another religion) do not have this relationshipand they certainly would not refer to God as Father. They might call him creator or god perhaps, but not Father.
Establishing the Relationship
So how do you go from the creator-created relationship you had, (which is not really a relationship at all) to a father-child relationship? The first of two steps is a process we call getting right with God. For those of you who do not know what this means, we have a page set up to show you how it works. If you would like to find out more, click on the link below.
Once the relationship is started by getting right with God, you need to make the second step and develop your new relationship into a personal relationship. A good way of showing what a personal relationship is can be illustrated by showing you what it is not.
In the Roman Catholic Church, people are told that anyone who is not a member of the Catholic Church can not get right with God. They tell you that their priests are your connection to God. You are taught to ask Mary (the mother of Jesus) to pray for you. They also suggest asking various saints to help you as they once helped themselves. In essence, this establishes a chain of helpers that you use to reach to God. However, if the church, priests, Mary, and saints are between you and God, you do not have a personal relationship with God at all.
Developing the Relationship
Fortunately, the Bible reveals that none of the things mentioned in the preceding paragraph are needed to have a relationship with God. Therefore, you can remove all the helpers between you and God (except Jesus), making the relationship a lot more personal. Of course, Jesus paid the price for your sins with His blood, (if you are willing to accept His gift), so He will not stand between you and GodHe allows you to stand before God. Stated another way, the relationship we have with God is as His childrenadopted through His Son, Jesus Christ.
A time will come when we will literally meet God. In the meantime, how can we develop this personal relationship? We do it by following a two step communication process.
You Communicating to God
We call our communicating to God praying. That is, praying is a way of talking to God. The Bible tells us that God listens to our prayers, and we can use the model prayer above to get us started. You will notice it contains four parts:
These are mostly self-explanatory. If God is really God, He does deserve our praise and support. Further, as our Father, we can expect Him to help us in our lives. By the way, God will not grant every request. As children may not understand why their parents will not let them play in the street, there will be times we do not understand why God does not seem to answer our prayers. In time, we will add more information about answered prayer, but for now you should know that God will give you what is best for you, long term. Read the story of Joseph, which starts in tragedy (Genesis chapter 37) but ends in triumph (Genesis chapter 45) to get a glimpse of how this is possible.
Although not part of the model prayer, when God does answer our prayers, it makes sense to thank God for what He has done. We do not like ungrateful children, and there is no reason to believe that God appreciates our being ungrateful to Him. By the way, many people have learned that keeping a written record of what they have asked for is helpful. You may be surprised to learn how many prayers will be answeredeven though God may not use the same time frame that you were hoping for!
We also need to ask God to forgive our sins. Each of us can make a mistake, and although the Christ's sacrifice will pay for every sin, it will not pardon us of one excuse. Then once you confess your sin, do not do it again. (To do so would make your confession a lie, wouldn't it?) This is where the request to keep us from temptation comes in.
God Communicating to You
God communicates to us, through his written word, the Bible. We realize that your first contact with the Bible may have been confusing, but clicking on the link below should clear things up for you.
One last comment. Authors tell us that the biggest compliment they receive is when people tell them that they read and liked the authors book. If you plan to see God one day, wouldnt it be nice to tell Him, I read and liked your book?
All references are taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994). This is not meant to be a complete list, but includes enough items to document the official church position. Note: if you have not read this page, these examples show a belief system that does not allow a personal relationship with God.
 From Part One, Section One, Chapter Three, Article 2: 169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation. Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.
 From Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 9: 816 The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.
 From Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 9: 824 United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God. It is in the Church that the fullness of the means of salvation has been deposited. It is in her that by the grace of God we acquire holiness.
 From Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 10: 983 Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels. . . . God above confirms what priests do here below.
 From Part Two, Section Two, Chapter Two, Article 4: 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
 From Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 9: 969 This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.
 From Part Four, Section One, Chapter Two, Article 2: 2677 Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the Mother of Mercy, the All Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender the hour of our death wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her sons death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
 From Part Two, Section Two, Chapter Two, Article 4: 1477 This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.
Copyright © 1998 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
All information contained in Clarifying Christianity is a resource for questions dealing with Christian issues. It is not to be taken as Christian counseling. Seek a qualified Christian counselor for help with all such issues. If you choose to work with a Christian counselor, it is your responsibility to ask pertinent questions before you begin, to assure yourself of their qualities and abilities.268