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Out of the Shallow and Into the Deep

Author // Felicia Caid Smith

How To Build a Deeper Connection with God

Out of the Shallow and Into the Deep

“Lord, I want to be closer to you. Please help me grow closer to you.”

My son’s whispered words were desperate as he pled for spiritual growth. At the young age of ten, he hungers for a more meaningful relationship with his heavenly Father.

Does his prayer sound familiar to you? Maybe you have also prayed this in the past or are praying it now. Perhaps you are wondering how to get past the unsatisfying, surface-level relationship and develop a deep, intimate connection with God. If so, here are some ways you can begin to shift religion into relationship.

Desperately Seek Him

I will go ahead and shamefully admit that there have been times I have prayed, “Lord, help me grow closer to you,” with little to no sincerity. These words have rolled off my tongue from habit, just a lovely phrase fit to close out a beautiful prayer. Unsurprisingly, these lukewarm prayers have never led to the kindling of my spiritual fire. Only when I have desperately craved His presence and cried out, “Lord, help me grow closer to you,” have I moved out of the kiddie pool of faith and into the deep.

I recognized that same desperation in my son’s voice on Sunday. He was seeking after the heart of God.

"The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." Psalm 14:2 (NIV)

Address the Sin in Your Life

Let me paint for you a quick picture of my son—my oldest theologian. We lovingly nicknamed him Jiminy Cricket because he dutifully follows the rules and confesses any wrongdoings immediately. He once asked a teacher to take points off of his test score because he had thought about cheating. Two-and-a-half years ago, he was saved and baptized and has since been consistent in praying before meals and at bedtime, and he is the first to volunteer at church and school when asked, “Who would like to lead us in prayer?” He looks forward to going to church, and on Sunday mornings, he stands at the front pew, raises his arms high in the air, and boldly praises God while he sings along to the worship lyrics. You can imagine the joy this brings to my mama-heart!

This past Sunday, our pastor introduced communion by explaining the traditional Passover meal. He held out a feather and spoon and demonstrated the way in which the two objects would be used to sweep up any leavened crumbs that remained on the table before the meal could begin. Leaven, he went on to say, represents sin, and we must be sure to clean up and remove even the small, easily overlooked sin in our lives. After the message was concluded, we were encouraged to go to the altar and confess our sins to God, and then take communion. In this sweet moment of prayer and communion, my son—my obedient, prayerful, and reverent son—recognized that he needed to do some crumb sweeping. At first glance, his table looked perfectly clean. But on closer inspection, he realized that he was allowing a seemingly innocent hobby to come between him and the Lord because he was putting it first and God second.

What crumbs are on your table? Maybe there is a glaringly obvious sin in your life that needs to be swept aside in order to commune with God. Or maybe your table looks clean, at least from a distance, and although no one else can see the leaven, you are well aware of the crumbs speckled across your table. Or it’s possible that you see no leaven at all, and you are certain that your table is spotless. I want to challenge you to ask God to reveal any sin that is present in your life, and then let the sweeping begin.

“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2 (NIV)

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or know him.” 1 John 3:6 (ESV)

Spend Time in the Word

When the communion service came to an end, my son looked up at me and said, “Mom, I’m going to start reading my Bible.” After hearing his prayer and seeing the resolve on his face now as he spoke, I could tell he really meant it. My heart leaped. I have never done a mature Bible study with one of my children, so the Bible nerd in me got a little carried away and started to plan when we would study the Bible together (right after school), what translation we would use (CSB), which book we would begin first (Romans), and so forth. As soon as I launched into my proposal for mother-son Bible time, he brought my excitement to a screeching halt.

“No, mom. This needs to be time between just me and God.”

Oof.  The wind was knocked right out of my sails. For a moment I was crushed, but my disappointment quickly faded because I realized he was right. Occasionally, I take one of my sons to the ice cream shop around the corner from their school while the other stays after for sports or clubs. Those one-on-one ice cream dates are precious to me because when I’m alone with either of my sons—when it’s just he and I—we get to chat and have undistracted quality time, and I get to know him just a little better than before. My oldest son needs undistracted time in the Word, because that’s the way he will get to know God, and each time a little better than before.

“You’re right,” I agreed. “It should be just you and God.”

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

Stay Committed

Raise your hand if you have ever made a resolution on December 31st to complete a Bible-in-a-year reading plan, but you only made it through Genesis, Exodus, and half of Leviticus before abandoning the plan altogether. Me too. But even though year after year I failed, there was finally a year that I made it all the way through to the very last word of the final verse of Revelation. Woot woot! That year, I asked God to help me and then I mapped out my plan, chose a time to read each day, and stayed committed.

I encouraged my son to choose a time in his daily schedule when he can put everything else aside and give his undivided attention to the Word of God. “Think of a time-slot that you consistently fill with an activity each and every day, and now replace that activity with your daily quiet time.” He thought about it and he decided on independent reading time at school. During independent reading, my son usually finds a comfortable spot on a beanbag or in a quiet corner where he reads graphic novels, but now, he has begun to carry his Bible to school with him every day so that he can have time with God in that quiet classroom corner. As long as he stays committed and he consistently spends time in the Word, I truly believe that he will begin to grow closer to the Lord.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (ESV)


Can you imagine a marriage in which the husband and wife only talk before meals and for a minute or so at bedtime? It probably wouldn’t be the greatest marital relationship. The same goes for our relationship with God. If we are just racing through a blessing before meals and ticking off a prayer list at bedtime, then our prayer life is lacking and our relationship with God will reflect it.

Last night, I asked my son, “Are you praying before you read your Bible at school?” He answered that he has prayed only once this week before his quiet time. I encouraged him to pray before and after reading. “Talk to God and ask Him to help you understand what you are reading… and then, be sure to listen! Let Him speak to you through His Word.”

If we are ever to grow closer to God, we must have regular, meaningful communication with Him.

“pray continually,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

I am excited to see what happens in my son’s spiritual life as he moves out of the shallow and into the deep. If you, friend, are desiring a deeper connection with God, then seek after His heart, repent of sin, pore over Scripture, remain steadfast, and pray without ceasing.

About the Author

Felicia Caid Smith

Felicia Caid Smith

Felicia is married with two little theologians who have a lot of BIG questions. She is a former history teacher, Sunday school teacher, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry leader. She has a Master of Theological Studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a calling to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. When she is not speaking and blogging, she subs at her sons’ Christian school, leads a women’s discipleship group, and sings on the worship team at her church.

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