Prayer: The Gateway to Intimacy with God
It is impossible to get close to another person if you never talk, and it is impossible to become truly intimate with another unless your share your heart. I love my wife. I enjoyed dating and getting to know her. I loved getting married and spending more and more time together. We recently took a little holiday, and loved sharing some time new experiences and time together. I have developed an intimate relationship with Lynnette through years of sharing my life with her. We have had many conversations about anything and everything. All this has brought us closer to each other. We are falling more and more in love with each other.
We can be in a close relationship with God. We can develop an intimate relationship with God. This is possible through prayer.
Unfortunately, many of us have confusing ideas about prayer. While I was a pastor at one church, I remember someone coming to me a number of times to get a “prayer” from me because I was a pastor. She didn’t want me to pray for her or with her. She wanted a specific prayer that she could take with her to use for a certain situation she wanted to deal with. She didn’t want God to do something. She thought this “prayer” would solve her problem like a lucky talisman. This type of prayer will not help us develop intimacy with God.
Some people pray before they eat, thanking God for the food. Some pray for God to do certain things in their lives. Some pray prayers like the Lord’s Prayer or others written by leaders of the past. When used only as a routine or ritual and not prayed from the heart, these are not prayers that will develop intimacy with God.
Prayer that can truly develop intimacy with God means we will spend time in prayer. We will spend time talking with God. Prayer that develops intimacy depends on us having regular conversations with God. Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing.” I realized I was doing this the other day. I noticed a little car in the lane next to me, driven by an older gentleman. I was immediately reminded of Jerry, a man who was in one of the churches I served. He passed away a few years ago. My first thought was: “So God, how’s Jerry doing up there?” It was just automatic and so natural. I spend time with God and constantly talk with him about what is going on.
Intimacy developing prayer means we have conversations with God. For many of us, prayer is something we do when we list off a laundry list of requests. We talk to God often. We tell him all the things we need and all the problems we need help with. While we think that may be prayer, it is definitely not a conversation with God. We need to learn to have a conversation, where we may talk for a while, but then we listen for a while. We need to realize that for prayer to help us develop intimacy with God, we need to do more than just talk to him.
Intimacy-developing prayer means we expect to hear from God. We actually pause long enough to listen and expect God to speak to us. We could occasionally come to God with a question, ask it, and then just wait and listen to what God is saying. Don’t say anything else until you hear God speaking.
Prayer that helps us develop intimacy with God is also often connected to Scripture. Pray and read scripture. Ask God to speak through what you read, and then read with an expectation that God will reveal himself to you in His Word. Commit to spending time with God regularly, reading scripture and talking with Him.
One of the intimacy-developing practices I have right now is to take two mornings a week where I pray through a “One Hour Prayer Guide”. In his book, The Hour That Changes the World, Dick Eastman suggests that one divide an hour into 12 periods of 5 minutes each. Topics in the 5 minutes segments include steps including praise, thanksgiving, confession, and praying scripture. There are a few sections that focus on watching for God and listening to God. It is surprising how quickly the hour passes, and very encouraging in how it makes me feel like I am more connected to God and what He wants to do in me and through me.
You can develop intimacy with God. He longs for that. In fact, He created the world so that he could have a relationship with his created people. When you desire intimacy with God, he will eagerly respond to your efforts. Conversational prayer, taking time with God, and praying as you read scripture, is the gateway to intimacy with God.
Do you want to know God intimately? Then make the effort to spend time with him, having conversations with him, and experiencing him at work in your life.
Keep looking up,