I’m a big campaigner for intimacy with God. That is the core of my message to every believer: know God on an intimate level, forsake a casual and from-a-distant relationship with the heavenly Father.
That shouldn’t be anything major to talk about, for it is, (or should be) a given that every believer pursues intimacy with the Lord. But as many people’s experiences often attest, that is not always the case. Therefore the need for encouragement to pursue intimacy with God comes in.
The Father calls us into relationship, into fellowship with him. Getting born-again is not an opportunity to merely escape the horrible fate of those who reject God. The experience sets you on the path of a life-long relationship with God that offers the possibility of ever-increasing intimacy and enjoyment of his wonderful presence.
Yes, it is possible to enjoy the presence of God. It is possible to get to that level where you fellowship with him and every other thing loses appeal when compared to those moments of being alone with God.
And that is not going to happen by accident; God will not force you to become intimate with him. That is not going to happen suddenly – in a day. It takes some conscious decision on your part, some resolve motivated and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, with your cooperation, and it takes consistency.
Our daily walk, our Christian witness, our service to the Lord must stem from our personal relationship with him, otherwise these aspects of our Christian lives become a work of our self-effort. The Lord, first and foremost, wants children to relate with, not laborers and servants who don’t care about private relationship.
If he gets the child intimate with him, labor and service become inevitable by-products of that relationship.
The greatest call the child of God should therefore give attention to is to develop an intimate relationship with the Father. Many times we want to serve, we want to be busy, we want to have some self-worth that comes from activity, and we lack time for, and neglect the moments we need to spend alone with the Lord. When we can, we threw up a few seconds or a few minutes prayer, read a 250 words devotional, and we are done. A little prayer when we awake in the morning, and a little prayer when we go to bed in the night.
That is scratching and ending at the surface. With that kind of routine, it is impossible to know God in ways that can be considered real intimacy. There is need to allocate ample time to spend alone with God.
We understand the word ample to be subjective. There is no set time. But we need to also understand that a few seconds, a few minutes is not ample time, especially in our today world of busyness and junk distractions, with so many things clamoring for our attention. The time allocated for personal relationship with God needs to be ample enough to set our minds on him and lessen the effect of the distractions around us.
Personal fellowship with God is not obligatory in the sense of it becoming a formality, something we do because we are required to, not because we necessarily value it. It is a time where we commune with God, because we want to give him first place, priority in our lives, because we understand it is vital to our spiritual well-being. When we get that mindset, we reap the benefits of that exercise.
- Our fervency is maintained by and in the closet
Without time spent alone with God, in prayers and study, our relationship becomes dry and lifeless. Our zeal is affected; the word becomes stale; our spirits become inhibited as the flesh gains dominance due to lack of discipline.
If the closet fire never quenches, this would prevent the occurrence where many get fired up during conventions, conferences, programs etc. only to lose the fire in a few days’ time. That has resulted in many attending one meeting after another, and yet never arriving at the place of relationship with God that their heart longs for.
While other believers and Christian programs may encourage and fire you up, you remain solely responsible for the kind of relationship you desire with the Lord. It remains your responsibility to discipline your flesh in order to cultivate and maintain consistency in your fellowship and walk with God. You don’t have to be up and down all the time, looking for someone to spur you up.
Start allocating time to worship and praise the Lord, to talk to him about everything, to read the Word, to offer up prayers of intercession etc. It’s a discipline. You shouldn’t let your flesh have its way in this area.
When you exercise discipline and maintain consistency, you find it easier, (even naturally) fulfilling the Scripture that says, “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11, AMP).
Here it is difficult to experience burn-out, for as you wait upon the Lord, he renews your strength (Isaiah 40:28-31), affecting your zeal and consequently your service.
- The Word remains fresh
Do you find the Word dry and familiar? It happens. Yet also true is the fact that when you have spent time in praise and worship, in waiting upon the Lord, in setting your mind on the Lord, as your fleshly emotions are subdued, the once familiar and stale Word comes alive and fresh.
Where you had taken a biblical command for granted because of familiarity, your spirit clings to it; where you had never taken notice because of familiarity and negligence, you see the Word in the light shed by the Holy Spirit. The God-breathed words on the pages of the book come fresh to your spirit.
You want to keep the Word fresh and appealing? Spend ample time with God. At times, we go for tapes, CDs and books. These materials are great when the words are uttered by divine inspiration. Yet, they have a shortcoming to our personal relationship with the Lord if they remain our only source of Bible Study. Once we’ve sucked up on the revelation God has given through others, there remains a void that can only be filled through personal initiative to develop an intimate relationship with the Father.
You might have experienced the occurrence where you can’t stand another tape, another book, without reading and studying the Word for yourself. That is because no book or tape or whatever material can replace God speaking to you personally through his Word.
- The pull of Carnality is suppressed
Ample time spent alone with God is an opportunity for the Lord to exert holy influences upon our hearts. Sin becomes less appealing the more you spend time in prayer and study.
It’s an old true statement that overt sin is a sign of a neglected closet. Many times, this is applied to the gross sins such as sexual immorality, but the truth is it involves every sin, even the little ones we don’t usually think are deadly. For example, the mouth that learns to talk more with God sooner or later begins to loathe the sins of a loose mouth such as gossiping, filthy talking, clamoring and the like.
Holy influences cause sin and distractions to lose their pull over our lives. That is the point of emphasizing ample time, for a few seconds or minutes will not suffice.
A better way to overcome carnality and sin in your life is not by sheer determination or even having an accountability partner. Begin to be intentional about spending time with God. Worship the Lord in song and word. Talk to him. Practice the presence of the Lord wherever you are, and you will find that sin losing its grip and appeal over your life. Spend time with God until you are literally soaked in his presence.
- The voice of God becomes clearer
We live with lots of distractions which need most of the times to be pushed out before we can clearly hear and understand what the Lord is saying. What is said under point 2 applies here for God speaks to us through the written word. But we must know that’s not the only way the Lord speaks. He also speaks to us in our spirits, also through impressions and influences.
Disciplining ourselves to a life of consistent fellowship with him helps us fine tune our spiritual hearing. When we come away from the busyness and distractions around us and plunge our hearts into a moment of praise and worship, a time of prayer and study, our hearts are more inclined to hear God speak than in the noisiness of busy activity and distractions, except for those who have learned to keep their minds on God no matter the environment they find themselves in.
The presence of the Lord is the place to be. It’s a place of intimacy, a place of refreshing, renewal, strengthening and transformation.
While we can learn to practice the presence of the Lord (he’s always with us), there is need to allocate time to spend alone with him, away from activity and distraction. It honors the Lord because we give relationship with him priority, and it also benefits us and promotes spiritual growth and maturity. Let’s go for it!
May God bless and spur you up to desire to know him more.