How do we discover our primary love language? In human relationships, I have often suggested the following approach. Ask yourself three questions.
If you regularly express words of appreciation, affirmation, and love to others, there is a good chance that your primary love language is words of affirmation. You are giving to others what you would like to receive yourself. If you are often patting other people on the back, touching them on the shoulder, or giving appropriate hugs, then your primary love language may be physical touch.
Your complaints reveal your inner emotional need for love. The husband who says, “You’re always so busy that we never just sit and talk anymore,” is revealing that quality time is his primary love language. The wife whose primary love language is physical touch might say, “I just feel like you don’t love me anymore. I’m always the one who touches and shows physical affection.” A young daughter who complains, “You mean you didn’t bring me anything from your trip?” is letting you know that she associates gifts with love.
The wife who says, “Could we take a walk this evening after dinner?” is requesting quality time. If she frequently makes similar requests, she is revealing that her primary love language is quality time. We tend to request from others what would meet our deepest emotional need for love.
If you thoughtfully answer these three questions, you will likely discover your primary love language in human relationships. And once you discover your primary love language in human relationships, it is likely that the same will hold true for your relationship with God. However, if you want to confirm it, you can ask and answer the same three questions.
If you are the kind of person who volunteers when the Bible study leader asks, “Who could make a meal to take to the Anderson family?” you are demonstrating that your primary love language is acts of service. You genuinely feel that when you are serving others, you are serving God. You are also deeply moved when you read about how Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, and washed the feet of His disciples. It is the serving nature of Christ that grips you and draws you to God.
Your friend’s answer to that question may be altogether different. He may say, “I feel closest to God during my early morning prayer time. I walk and pray and feel like we’re having a conversation.” Such a response reflects that quality time is your friend’s primary love language.
Suppose you complain, “God, I feel like You’ve abandoned me. I don’t feel close to You. I try to read Your Word, but it just feels like words on a page. At church I used to feel Your presence when we sang, but now it seems like I’m just going through the motions. What’s wrong?” This complaint is likely revealing that your primary love language is physical touch. It is what José described when he felt God’s presence and sensed God’s touch—not only spiritually but also in his body.
On the other hand, perhaps you complain, “Lord, it seems like You’re not blessing me anymore like you used to. Now I can hardly pay the bills. It looks like I’m going to lose my job, and our baby is sick. I don’t understand.” If that’s your complaint, your primary love language probably is gifts. With job, money, and health, you felt loved by God. In their absence, you feel that God doesn’t love you.
If someone complains that the pastor’s sermons are rambling and meaningless, that person’s primary love language probably is words of affirmation. If he or she does not hear anything meaningful from the pastor, the individual does not feel God’s love through the sermon.
Listen to the requests you make while praying, and you may discover your primary love language. Jack prays most often for wisdom, and acknowledges that his primary love language is words of affirmation. “As I read the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, particularly the book of Proverbs, I feel that I’m walking close to the heart of God. Whenever the Holy Spirit shows me how to apply the wisdom of the Bible in my personal life, I sense that God is giving me personal attention, and I feel loved.”
Kristin prays most often for the health of her children and that God will meet the financial needs of the family. She recognizes that receiving gifts is her primary love language. When God answers her prayers, she feels extremely loved by God.
“Your complaints reveal your inner emotional need for love.”
Randall’s most common prayer is, “Lord, I want to feel Your presence. I want to know Your power. I want to feel Your hand upon me. I want to be anointed by Your Spirit.” When he experiences God’s presence in a way that affects him physically and emotionally, he senses the love of God deeply and reciprocates with raised hands and flowing tears, and has even been known to dance in the presence of God. His love language is physical touch.
Amanda’s primary love language is quality time, and her most common prayer is, “Lord, I’m so busy with work and all my activities, but more than anything, I want to spend time with You. Help me find time.” Her sister, Amy, has a much different prayer. “Lord, help me find time to work with neglected children. You know how much it means to me to serve others in Your name. Help me find time to do the ministry that is on my heart.” Her primary love language is acts of service.
Most people will be able to identify their primary love language by answering the previous three questions. And a great many will also discover that their primary love language remains the same in both human relationships and their relationship with God.
by Gary Chapman
Feel God’s love more personally. Do you realize that the God of the universe speaks your love language, and your expressions of love for...
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