Recently, someone close to me asked "what is a personal relationship with Jesus?" after their first session of the Catholic Alpha course. I think it can be quite a foreign concept even if our practice of the Faith up to this point has been doing just what good Catholics do: going to Mass, saying the Rosary, frequent confession, daily prayer. I'm certainly no expert . . . I'm still learning, even though I've been pursuing my personal relationship with Jesus for over 20 years!
Here's what I think.
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My personal relationship with Jesus is affected by how deeply I understand that Jesus loves me.
This goes well beyond the childhood song "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so . . ." That's a cute song and for sure the Bible is pretty darn authoritative, but there's a difference between hearing it, reading it and even singing it . . . and knowing it through experience.
Sometimes I think that I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. It's not generic "I love kittens" kind of love. His Love changes our lives . . . if we can truly understand it and accept it.
He loves each and every single one of us: fully, completely, unconditionally and deeply personally . . . as if each one of us is the only human being on His radar? Yes, He's God and He can do anything . . . but why?
Because He IS love and that's what He does. He created love. He loves us. We love, because He first loved us.
One more thing. This one is a little harder for little human me to grasp.
He loves me no matter what I do or don't do. I cannot earn or lose His Love.
Yes, I've written this before . . . and truth be told, I have to remind myself of that every day.
And it's the truth for you too. Do you believe it? Do you live it? Are you still trying to win Him over with your little efforts day after day?
Accept His Love.
My personal relationship with Jesus flourishes when I pray to Him from the heart.
Devotions and extra Masses, Scripture and spiritual reading are wonderful to inspire us and teach us and help us dedicate our lives to Him and they are completely necessary to grow in the spiritual life.
Every faithful practice gives us a boost and propels us towards His Mercy and Love.
We give Him our time and our attention as we try to gain insight and knowledge, but we can also try to talk to Him, telling Him what we really think, how we feel, what we need, what we're sorry for, what we worry about and what we're most grateful for. We need to praise Him . . . not because He needs the affirmation but because it changes us; it makes us meek . . . and humbly reminds us of how much we need Him.
Deeper awareness of our weaknesses, faults and failings . . . just draw us closer to Him!
Jesus gives preferential treatment to sinners!
Pray from the Heart.
My personal relationship with Jesus flourishes as I listen for His Voice.
We also need to listen for His Voice responding to us, expecting that He has a message for us. He wants to talk to us, draw us closer to Him. We need expectant faith, praying with confidence that He already hears . . . and is already answering the prayer of our hearts.
My daily prayer is often written in my prayer journal.
After reading Scripture or recommended spiritual reading, I will write down a particular passage or insight that speaks to me and I'll write about what I think it means, how it might apply in my life, what I need to learn or work on.
I then ask a question directed right at Jesus Himself, in my prayer journal.
(I know! Bold, aren't I?!)
I ask the Holy Spirit to 'guide my pen' and then I write like my hand is on fire, hoping at least some of the words are coming from Him.
I usually don't read it right away, but will take a look a couple weeks later and sometimes I'm quite surprised by the words I read. Sometimes, they just don't sound like something I would write and if they are drawing me closer to Jesus, I think that they might just be from Him.
I also pray out loud, from the heart . . . usually when I'm alone in the house or in the car.
When I'm open to the Holy Spirit and earnestly praying from the heart and I've been asking Him a question . . . sometimes a complete sentence or thought will just float to the top of my prayers . . . and I'm pretty sure it's from Him. Those are . . . the best.
Listen for His Voice.
How has Jesus answered your prayer from the heart?
Copyright 2017 Monica McConkey.
About the Author
Monica, mom of 5, blogs about Catholic crafts and family traditions at EquippingCatholicfamilies.com. She is an author and creator of Super Saints quizzing cards and over 45 Saint, Sacrament, Catechism and Prayer-packed Craft Kits to help teach the Catholic Faith. The Catholic teaching tools and gifts are available through Arma Dei, the Catholic family publishing company founded with her husband Bill.