routinesRoutines Build Relationships

Face it, without routines in relationships, the relationship would slowly dry up. Back in the days before Internet, when Pedro and I first started dating, we wrote to each other on a daily basis during the long summers we spent apart. Those letters represent a routine of communication that built our relationship. We didn’t write flowery poems or repeat the same sentiment over and over again. We just shared with each other how our day had gone, asked questions, and answered questions the other had asked.

I worked at a summer camp, so mail call turned into my favorite part of the day. When the camp bell rang for lunch, I salivated for a letter from Pedro—never mind what they had on the food deck. Each evening before I dropped into my bunk, exhausted from a dirty, dusty day of wrangling campers and horses, I would write to Pedro and have the letter ready to drop in the camp mail box the next morning.

Building a routine for forming a relationship with God works the same way. Choose a time of day, grab a notebook or a journal, and spend five minutes telling God about your day and asking questions. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in finding answers to those questions.

Praise Often

Seeking a deeper spiritual life? Try these five routines for building your relationship with God. #relationship, #spirituality, #seekerPraise and worship go together like macaroni and cheese. David tells us in Psalm 150 that we should praise God in a variety of places and plethora of ways. We don’t have to limit our praise to church or to a set ritual. But we DO need to praise God—he’s the only one who deserves our praise and worship (Deuteronomy 10:21).

I’ve made a habit of praising God when I see something beautiful that he created—a stunning sunset, a funky insect, or a beautiful bird. As part of my morning routine, I make a list of 5-10 things that I’m grateful for. You don’t have to have a great voice and sing on key in order to praise God. You can bust loose with some cymbal clanging or whoops of joy, too.

Nurture Intentionality

In order to form routines, we have to practice intentionality. I set my alarm for an hour before I know everyone else will get up so that I have the house to myself. Next, I make my ‘why bother’ (non-fat, decaf latte), and then I sink into my favorite rocker and pull out my journal and my Bible. I don’t do this some days, or just when I feel like it. Every. Single. Day. I meet up with God.

Trust me, when I’m away from home, I have to really work at this. But I have learned to carve that time alone with God into my daily routines—no matter where I am or who I’m with.

As an introvert, intentionally seeking time with someone else doesn’t feel natural—especially when I first started forming the routine of spending time with God. I couldn’t see him, and I hate talking on the phone, so the whole concept of spending time with an invisible deity felt weird.

After 36 years of practice, I know that without that time, I’m just macaroni—there’s no substance or flavor in me.

Practice Prayer

By this I don’t mean that you practice how to pray. I mean, form the habit of praying throughout the day. When you feel an argument with your spouse coming on, shoot up a prayer for help. If you stub your toe, praise God instead of cursing (it feels better faster). When you feel ready to sell your children to the highest bidder, gasp out a prayer to God. Take bumper-to-bumper traffic as an opportunity to tell God about your day.

The routine of constant contact with God helps build your relationship with him. It also helps you avoid thinking of God as your heavenly butler.

Remember, God is not Your Butler

Few of us would ever admit to thinking that God should act as our heavenly butler. But our actions often speak louder than our words. If the only routine in our relationship with God consists of praying for things we want or need, we might have a problem.

God, unlike a butler, wants things from us, too. He wants our obedience. Our devotion. He requires our praise. Our will.

God is NOT your cosmic butler. Unlike a butler, he requires things from us. #relationship #spirituality Click To Tweet

Form the routine of spending time in reading God’s instructional manual (the Bible). Find a version that resonates with you (I love the Message version). Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide your reading, and then dig in.

Don’t get me wrong. Asking God for things is fine—in fact, God wants us to ask for things (Luke 11:11, Matthew 7:7). But if we fail to form the first four routines, we can easily fall into the mindset that God is nothing more than a cosmic butler.

Q4U: What routines do you have to build your relationship with God?

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  1. Ooh yes! I loved getting mail at camp too. I love sending real mail to my friends too. I’m in the 45 spot this week.

  2. Dear Anita, I can always count on you to offer practical ways to strengthen my spirit. I especially appreciate the affirmation about the importance of praise and deliberately looking for things to praise God for. Thank you for helping to start my day off right.

  3. I love this post! So helpful yet so practical. Thankfully early in my Christian life I was encouraged to stake out time with God every day. I also used to think things weren’t officially prayed for unless that happened during my prayer time – what a joy to realize I could talk to God all day and not wait for an appointment!
    Barbara H. recently posted…Hearing Hard ThingsMy Profile

  4. I love your suggestions! One thing I try to do is right after breakfast, go back upstairs to my desk and spend time in the Bible and in prayer. If I go right then, I usually don’t miss it. If I wait, I let other things interfere. So it’s a good discipline for me to just go right after breakfast before I get busy.

  5. My Bible study routine is firmly in place and is often the best part of my day, Anita. So I totally resonate with what you’re saying and love that you’ve broken this down into doable elements. It seems to be such a struggle for most, but can be so life-transformational once it is in place. Thanks for sharing, my friend.
    Beth recently posted…Comment on Ways to Align Mismatched Sex Drives in Marriage by Ways to Align Mismatched Sex Drives • Bonny’s Oysterbed7My Profile

  6. Intentionality is something I struggle with. I’m not great at routine. I’m a mad “Martha” running from task to task. I needed this reminder to intentionally carve out part of my day to spend on what is priority. My relationship with God and what He wants me to be focused on.

  7. Praise Often is an important one for me. I had a music teacher in school who would start our Choir time by asking “How have you seen God lately?” It always struck me that I should be intentional about looking for God around me and giving Him thanks in both the little ways He shows His love for us and the big ways.

  8. Great routines! I laughed at your “why bother”. Since I drink caffeinated coffe,e what would you call that? I also love the idea that God is not our butler. It’s so easy to forget that any relationship is a two way street. Thank you for sharing your routines.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Monthly Musings ~ March 2018My Profile

  9. Loved the point about God not being our personal butler. Such a great image and an attitude we can easily fall into. Great job of showing that our relationship requires time and communication to be a vibrant relationship.
    Theresa Boedeker recently posted…When Words FailMy Profile

  10. I find that in seeking God more this year, I feel closer to Him. I read a devotional and in my Bible, write a verse a few times, and sit quietly trying to listen. It still feels strange without someone there physically, but it is starting to feel less strange.
    Sarah recently posted…Step by StepMy Profile

  11. Beautiful list, Anita. My list is much the same. And, thanksgiving is one that’s central in my life as well. I’m so grateful for the big and the small of life that He’s blessed me with. <3 xoxo
    Brenda recently posted…What If…My Profile

  12. Wonderful words. I have started seriously committed to setting aside times during the day for devotions and prayer. I like the idea of not treating God like a butler. If you think about it, all the times during the day that we are obedient to him and walking in his way we are sending out prayers to him in praise, devotion and celebration

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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