A couple years ago, my dad penned this phrase:
Make your faith your own.
It's stuck with me ever since.You're probably wondering what in the world that means. Well, long story short, my parents have been middle school leaders in our church for over 30 years. And over the past couple years, the Lord has placed the importance of "making your faith your own" on this ministry. Basically, it means to grab hold of your faith and truly make it personal, make it a real, relationship with Jesus.
I'm sure some of you reading have grown up in a Christian home, where you've known Jesus forever. You've been taught about Jesus and you've always gone to church. (That's my story!) What I realized over the years was that my faith has been rooted in my parents. It had been established by my parents and family. (Now I'm not saying its my parents' fault... I just hadn't come into my own faith.) I was a Christian but I hadn't really finally taken the step to say: "Jesus, it's you and me." That is what "make your faith your own" means. It means to stand firm in your new identity in Jesus and run with your faith. It means to be genuinely invested and in love with your Savior. Your relationship with Jesus is a two way street and there is no way to be a Christian "through" someone else, or love Jesus "because my parents do."It wasn't until middle school that I really "made my faith my own".
The Holy Spirit opened up my eyes to my shortcomings and my lack of trust in Him. I had relied too heavily on my parents' faith and was running on their faith. That's when I re-dedicated my life to Jesus and vowed to make my faith my own.
Now let me ask you something. Have you made your faith your own? Have you taken hold of it, decided to run with Jesus and never look back? Have you made a commitment to be a faithful follower, because you truly love Him and want to? If you have, I am so thrilled and thank God for that! If you haven't, it's alright and you still have time. In saying all of this, my intention is not to shame anyone. My desire is just to encourage you to take that step if you haven't yet.Let me offer three practical suggestions on how to make your faith your own:
#1: Dedicate yourself to reading the Bible.
This is the simplest, but also one of the most challenging aspects. Reading God's Word is vital to making your faith your own. Did you know that your Bible is the very words of God? And these words at your fingertips, just waiting and becknoning you to search them. I'd encourage you to get a Bible if you don't have one. Sit down for a few minutes and write down a simple plan.For instance: Wake up 10 minutes earlier every morning and read for 10 minutes. (For a new believer, I'd suggest reading the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.) But you can really read anywhere! The Bible is full of amazing truth and transforming power — anywhere in the Bible! Commit to read for a mere 10 minutes, write down your thoughts in a journal and end in prayer. When you pray, ask the Lord to help you to remember to read and to desire to read. Believe that He will answer that because there's nothing He wants more than fellowship with His children! All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man (and woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
#2: Get connected.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up in meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
The author of Hebrews is stressing the importance of meeting together as a body of believers, because God is returning soon. Numerous times in the Bible, God highlights the importance of being united as brothers and sisters in Christ. Why is it so important to be around other believers? Simply put: it's important to surround yourself with people that will encourage you, build you up in the faith and keep you accountable to God.I'd encourage you to get involved in a solid, God-fearing, Bible-teaching church. Try out a few if you're unsure, but make sure that they are foundational in their doctrine (their teaching) and that they are teaching solely from the Bible. Also, be opened to how the Lord may use you -- He may call you to volunteer in a church ministry.If you're in college, there are always on-campus or off-campus ministries that cater to Christian students. Get involved there. If you identify yourself with Jesus Christ, you are apart of the Body of Christ. You are a vital member of the church. Being apart of a church is also important because that is where we can find accountability and mentorship. I have been blessed with so many wonderful ladies that have become my mentors and accountability partners over the years. They have been such a special blessing from Jesus and they have really taught me so much about the love of God.
#3: Learn how to pray.
Seems simple, huh? Well, let me be honest with you guys. Prayer has been one of the hardest things for me over the years. Thankfully, the Lord has helped me to become more of a prayer warrior, but it has never been easy.Sometimes I'd forget that Jesus could hear me so I just didn't pray. Sometimes I didn't pray because I felt like I had to get down on my knees and talk to Jesus for 30 minutes straight. Those things aren't requirements though.1 John reminds us that Jesus always hears us. Psalm 145 reminds us Jesus is always near. Psalm 139 tells us that God made us in the beginning, He knit us together. He is constantly by our sides, just waiting for us to talk to Him.Here's my best tip to cultivate a life of prayer:
Don't overthink it. Now that may sound a little weird, but here's what I mean by that. So often we think that we have to get on our knees and spend hours on end praying to really pray. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Prayer is simply a conversation between you and God. It's two people, talking about anything and everything. Any and every spare moment, talk to Him. Don't overthink it. While you're on your way to school, have a little conversation with Jesus in your mind. Thank Him for who He is, ask Him to forgive your shortcomings and bring Him your requests. Dashing through the grocery store? Send up a little prayer. Walking to class? Just have a conversation with Him.I can't tell you how much prayer has changed my life. It hasn't always been easy, but Jesus has been able to speak to me in some amazing ways through it. He has given me clarity, peace and joy in my times of prayer.
Praying is the single most powerful thing we can do as believers. Did you know that? It really does have all that power.If this seems like a daunting task, remember Romans 8:26. This verse reminds us that when we don't know how to pray, or what to pray for, the Holy Spirit is there to help us out. Isn't that such a comfort? Thank you guys for following along. This may seem very simplistic, but a relationship with God isn't complicated! Sometimes, we're the ones who make it complicated. God is just itching for you to read His Word and for you to discover the wonderful things in it. God is just itching for you to get connected into a wonderful church and make wonderful relationships. God is just itching for you to talk to Him, in every circumstance and every hour.May you be encouraged to make your faith your own. 💗