Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Susan D. Hill's new book, Closer Than Your Skin: Unwrapping the Mystery of Intimacy with God, (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, 2008).

You know the Bible says that God is love, and you believe it. You agree with the idea that He loves you personally, too. But do you experience His loving touch in your life every day? Or does He often seem far away?

God wants you to encounter Him right there with you – closer than your skin. Here’s how you can experience the intimate relationship God wants you to enjoy with Him:

Pursue God. God has promised that if you seek Him with all your heart, you’ll find Him. He’s available, knowable, and responsive. Decide to make a relationship with Him your top priority, building everything else in your life around it. Expect to discover God pursuing you as you pursue Him. He understands everything about you and knows where to find you. God wants you to find Him, too, rather than just playing a game of hide and seek. As you reach out to Him, He will reach out to you.

Commit. Don’t settle for just casual contact with God, as if you’re dating Him. Move beyond a casual relationship to a fully committed one. Passionately devote yourself to God. Instead of just believing in Him, live for Him. Do your best to live out your faith in every part of your life, all the time.

Trade religion for relationship. Your faith isn’t defined by the religious activities in which you engage; it’s defined by the quality of your relationship to God. Rather than focusing on the rituals you perform, the programs you attend, or the service you undertake, focus on the reason behind doing all of those things – your love for God. Let go of activities that keep you too busy to invest the time and energy you need to invest in your actual relationship with God. Don’t become so busy that you don’t leave room in your life for God to do something new; expect Him to constantly be doing something fresh in your life. Ask God to help you avoid pride and self-reliance from doing too much while also avoiding guilt from doing too little. Rely on God’s unlimited strength rather than your own limited abilities, and make sure your motivation for any religious activity is to express your love for Him.

Overcome condemnation. If you feel like God is disappointed in you because of what you’ve done, or even because of who you are, the resulting guilt and shame will alienate you from Him because you’ll be insecure about approaching Him. Ask God to heal your soul from whatever is causing your sense of condemnation. Confess your sins, repent of them, and embrace the grace that God freely offers you. Instead of working for God’s love, work from it as a foundation of security. Remember that, although you’ll always be a work in progress, your standing with God and your future are secure, because God is the author and finisher of your faith. He is always willing to meet you where you are and help you grow. Rather than worrying about how perfectly you’re living the Christian life, focus on how often you’re turning to God, and trust that His love will prove more than enough in transforming you into the person He wants you to become.

Stop overdoing it. Although it’s noble to try to live a good, selfless, and productive life, if you’re too driven and busy, you’ll end up actually moving farther away from the life God wants you to lead. Take an honest look at how you’re using the limited time and energy you have. Make whatever changes you need to make to ensure that your activities don’t eat up the time you need to develop and maintain healthy relationships – especially with God.