FaithZette

Seven Ways to Grow Closer to God

Even with a great many challenges in our lives, here's how to develop and expand our faith and belief in the Almighty

God is our Creator and our Redeemer — but how do we bridge the gap so He can be more of our friend?

It’s relatively easy to see God’s creative hand when we observe a majestic sunrise or a snow-capped mountain peak, and we know that Christ died for us on the cross to redeem our sins.

The question that so many ask is: How do we get closer to God today?

This quest is not reserved exclusively for priests and nuns or other religious — it’s available to every single person, no matter his or her station in life, no matter how busy life is, no matter how much distraction or even doubt people have as they go about their days.

Here’s how.

1.) We have to want to be closer to God. One of my favorite religious images depicts Jesus knocking on the door of a house. The door has no handles on the outside — and His head is pressed against the door as he hopes to hear footsteps approaching. The person inside must open it up for him to come in.

The Song of Songs reminds us, “Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices.” We need to remember that although Christ wants our friendship much more than we do, He respects our freedom.

And we need to be aware of His presence and consistently invite Him into our heart.

2.) We must know the word of God — and want to know it even more. “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” as St. Jerome once said.

The word of God is alive and can pierce the soul of its readers with incredible inspiration and wisdom. In particular, the four Gospels open a window into the person of Christ, helping us understand what made Him tick and how He loved others; they show us how to live a devout, Christian life.

How can we answer the question, “What would Jesus do?” if we do not know “what Jesus did”? Every time we pick up the Bible, Jesus notices this effort — and He sees we are interested in becoming His friend.

3.) We must go to where Jesus resides: the Eucharist. Christ is in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, body and soul, humanity and divinity, veiled under the auspice of the consecrated host.

He is there 24/7, patiently waiting and hoping for us to arrive. Pope St. Paul VI reminds us in his encyclical letter “Mystery of Faith” that “there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness that having conversation with Christ in the Eucharist.”

4.) We must make time to tell Him we are sorry for letting Him (and ourselves) down. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the way we reconcile ourselves to God and His Church. Sin is a moment in which we said “no” to God and His loving plan over our lives. Confession acknowledges that we got in God’s way — and asks Him to heal and strengthen us for the journey ahead.

5.) We can work our way to Jesus through Mary. We can ask Mary for help to get a little closer to Her Son. She has the keys to Christ’s heart — and Jesus cannot say no to his mom.

Related: The Hidden Acts of Kindness That Take Everyone by Surprise

6.) Know that things aren’t as hard when we love God. Embracing the cross that God allows in our lives is often one of the most effective ways to get closer to God. As Christians, we should not be surprised that at times, we, too, are asked to shoulder the burden of the cross; we should strive to imitate our Lord’s example of carrying it with dignity and nobility. God often draws closer when the suffering and darkness of our lives is most intense.

7.) We can be attentive to God’s loving activity in our daily lives. A kind word, a simple “God bless you,” a gentle smile — there are many ways in which God shows us His love and kindness through others. We can do the same as we go about our lives.

We are all beloved children of God. We are incredibly important to God because He truly is our Father — and His greatest desire is to draw us closer to His heart here on earth and for us to be with Him eternally in heaven.

Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.