In his book Life without Lack, Dallas Willard says, “All relationships and kingdoms work by words, and the first act of faith is to speak.” We have to say something out loud.
OK, so what do we say? He has a suggestion for that, too: Praise. That really is an easy place to start if we want to build relationship with God, isn’t it? Think something he has created. Surely there is something to praise him for: sunrise, your dog, peaches, trees. Look around you and start with praise.
Or think about relationships in your life. Praise him for the people who matter to you and who have been placed beside you for a purpose. Thank him for his patience with you in those relationships.
Always start with praise. The Lord’s Prayer does when it acknowledges the holiness of God and his name. We do well to emulate that prayer. Then, after we have praised well, we can speak out other things: confession (Romans 10:9), requests, complaints (that’s OK – really – the psalmists do it), thanks, worship.
Do you see that it’s all about words? We cannot love God and relate to him with growing intimacy if we don’t use words. Words, as Willard says, are the tools by which all relationships and all kingdoms work – even the kingdom of God.
We can practice with praise (so easy!) and move on to the harder stuff from there. God will meet us where we are and invite us to keep on coming closer.
“Spiritual people are not those who engage in certain spiritual practices; they are those who draw their life from a conversational relationship with God.” ~ Dallas Willard