‘Come close to God, and God will come close to you’ James 4:8 NLT
My great passion is to exhort people to personal, private prayer so that they would come close to God. Many times I have been with people and listened as they shared their hurts, their brokenness, their loss of spiritual vitality. As they talked and shared I was drawn on many occasions to ask this question: Tell me about your relationship with God? Usually with bowed heads and sometimes partly ashamed, they would whisper that they had stopped spending daily time with the Lord. The “buts” had got in the way. But I’ve been too busy … but my children need me more … but I am spending many hours in church ministry and other worthwhile endeavours… but it’s always too late and I’m too tired to pray.
I empathise with them because the answer appears simple – yet walking it out proves quite challenging
Of all the many promises in the New Testament, few are as precious and powerful as the one we find in James 4:8. There we are exhorted to “come close to God” with the corresponding assurance that if we do “God will come close to you.”
The beautiful thing is that God always responds to us whenever we approach Him. Think about it for a moment; God said He would come close to us if we would only come close to Him! Contrary to popular thinking, seeking God is not a one-time event that ends with salvation. Initially, God seeks us and finds us. We then spend the rest of our lives pursuing Him.
The Lord began teaching me this lesson of coming close to Him many years ago. Since then it has been a continual lifetime pursuit of coming closer to God. The big lesson I have learnt in my pursuit is that coming closer to God is an invisible act of the soul. It is that spiritual movement of my heart by which I seek God in deep intimacy.
How can we build our intimacy with our Father, making it something special and significant? Let me share some of my intimacy learnings:
Intimacy comes with spending “Quality time” with someone. As I look back over the time I spent dating my wife, I thought I knew her well prior to asking her to marry me. Yet, after all these years of marriage, I certainly know my wife much better today than while we were dating. How has this happened? It has come about due to the “quality time” we have spent together over the years. We have laughed, cried, shared fears, joys, hopes, and dreams. We have both spoken (well me a little bit more), yet we have also taken time to listen to the words as well as the heart of each other.
Intimacy takes time, but the time, energy, and effort, are certainly worth the investment in the relationship. Is it any different with our relationship with God?
Intimacy comes from removing the distractions which hinder relationships. I encourage you to deal with any distractions promptly. You might not be aware of how much your Father desires to spend time with you.
Intimacy comes with having a clear focus on the other person. Paul had this focus when he wrote the words in Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him…”
God told Jeremiah how He would place a desire into their hearts to know Him. Jeremiah 24:7 says, “And I will give them a heart to know Me.” Amazing, isn’t it!? To know that God has positive and encouraging thoughts of me as well as you. He has thoughts with a specific plan for us.
Intimacy comes as a result of thinking of the other person, even during their absence.
How much time does the average Christian spend thinking thoughts about God? I am certainly not an expert in this area, but this I do know: the average Christian spends two minutes a day in prayer. How can anyone develop intimacy with such small portions of time allocated to building the relationship? It simply will not happen! We must spend time with God!
Intimacy with the Father demands silence and extended times with Him. His acquaintance is not made known hurriedly. It involves cultivating the awareness of God’s presence and works on a daily basis.
As I set my pen aside, I want to provoke this thought about the quality of your walk with God.
We have been created to pursue God at the deepest level of our being – body, mind and soul. This can only happen if we come close to God every day in personal, private prayer. There are no shortcuts! Make it your focus to come close to God.