Here's something from my book on the subject, FWIW:
A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST?
The Disciples obviously had a personal relationship with Our Lord. But it was not an exclusive, individualistic personal relationship. As Christians, we have a personal and corporate relationship with all three persons of the Holy Trinity. We cannot separate our individual relationship with Jesus from our corporate relationship to our fellow Christians and to the Holy Orthodox Church.
We can only approach God on His terms, not our own. As their father, my children must obey and respect me. They must address me in an honorable manner. They must follow my rules and respect my standards. But they know that I love them unconditionally; and their obedience is the result of love and devotion, not obligation. And because they respect me, honor me, and have confidence in my love for them, then they also feel free to jump in my arms and shower me with spontaneous displays of affection. They feel free to play with me. They feel free to show me uninhibited expressions of love.
So, I think this is similar to how we should approach and view God. We cannot merely pray to Him with our own words; we must first pray according to His instructions. We cannot merely worship Him according to our own ideas; we must first worship Him according to His dictates and wishes. We cannot create our own subjective theology about God; we must accept the theology handed down to us by His holy Apostles. But with these objective foundations in place, we can also freely pray to God from the depths of our hearts. We can cry to him in our hours of need. We can dance before Him in joyful praise. We can talk to Him as our most intimate Friend. We can find comfort in His loving embrace.
It is well within Orthodox theology to speak of having a personal relationship with Christ; but our relationship with the Divine can never be presumptuous, casual, or merely personal. The God with whom we are in relationship is a Holy God. We dare not come to Him on our own merits and conditions. We must come to Him in and through His Church. There can be no authentic personal relationship with Jesus Christ outside of and apart from the Church of Christ. “For the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” [St. John 4:23-24]