When I talk about intimacy with God, I simply mean knowing God better and walking in close fellowship with him through spending time in studying the word and in prayer, the result of such a relationship being a life of joy, peace and you becoming more and more sensitive and able to discern God’s voice and leading in your life
I believe every true child of God loves to know God more, to know His word more and to walk in obedience to His leading. That’s because it is God’s will for our lives. He forgave our sins so we could enter into a lifelong intimate relationship with Him; so every one who has received the gift of salvation has a desire to know God more.
But the truth is many of God’s children seem not to have that kind of relationship. Many of God’s dear children live in ignorance of His word and have an almost non-existent private prayer life.
Many people go to apostles, prophets, pastors or spiritual leaders to hear specific words from God for them because they can’t understand or hear God on their own. While God has endowed people in the Body of Christ with spiritual gifts and we have scriptural precedent to prove God did speak to people through others, God’s best is for every of His child to walk in close relationship with Him that they begin to hear His voice for themselves, not depending on an intermediary, with its potential dangerous outcomes. I think it is a comic picture to be a Christian but always depending on someone else to hear from God and tell you what God wants to tell you. That’s a faulty relationship. The Lord Jesus opened the way into the presence of God for every one of God’s children! We should not so depend on others that we become complacent and lazy in our personal relationship with the Lord.
Someone may however not be complacent, and yet, intimacy with God remains an elusive idea. The more they want to know God, the further He seems to be. And that is frustrating. I have been there. I loved God and wanted with every desire of my heart to know Him more and grow in my Christian life, but it always seemed so hard that there were times I concluded God didn’t care about me. It seemed to me I was pursuing a god who didn’t want me. That kind of situation that makes you begin to wonder whether you are among those considered the Elect.
Thanks to God I was able to recognize the hindrances for what there are, and be able to share them with someone in hope of encouraging them to take hold of the relationship which the Lord Jesus came to usher us into.
Legalism is a disease and should be avoided like the plague. It is deceptive because on the surface it passes for sanctification or holiness but the aim of legalism is to earn the favour and acceptance of God through your own efforts instead of receiving the free gift of God by faith alone. Instead of looking to Jesus, the legalist looks to themselves by keeping a set of self-imposed rules and regulations in order to be pleasing to God.
Christianity is not outward, though the outward matters because it reflects what is on the inside, but as far as God is concerned, being is more important than doing. And one may truly be born again but still think they have to maintain their relationship with God through followings some strict rules. That is the mentality Paul warns against in Galatians 3.
Legalism cannot permit you to enjoy relationship with God because the focus is always on you and not Jesus, and usually on your sins and failures, resulting in guilt and condemnation.
The only cure for legalism is to know that God in Christ loves you unconditionally, and accepting the grace of God.
Take time to study about God’s love for you. It will liberate you from condemnation and cause you to love God so much in appreciation that you would love spending time in the word and prayer, no more to impress God with your Bible reading, but to know Him better!
Laziness, procrastination, complacency
These hindrances are grouped together because they usually go hand in glove and are mostly caused by an abundance of distractions.
There will always be a good reason not to have time for the things of the Lord. We live in a busy and high-pressure world.
Yet intimacy with God is pursued; it is not something that happenings automatically. Relationship with God must be prioritized before it can have a permanent place in our to-do list. We must therefore be purposeful about cutting off distractions, internal as well as external. They could be hobbies, television, friends, social media etc.
You see distractions are not necessary bad things. They only become distractions when they take all of our time or permit very little time for the things of God. They become distractions when spiritual things can wait and not vice versa.
If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about, from listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough time that is suitable for holy meditation
Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ
Lack of self-discipline
When talking about relationship with God, it is important to know consistency in seeking God is very important. You won’t benefit much from the exercise if you go for days, weeks without spending time studying the Word or being alone with God, and then one or two days, you get serious only to let go again for the next couple of days or weeks.
The flesh hates to study, it hates to pray. But you can discipline it to the place where it is pliable and that only happens on a consistent basis. If you pray, study or fast only when your body agrees to, it would be difficult for you to maintain consistency in seeking God because your body doesn’t feel the same always. Put time for God and prioritize seeking God such that your flesh is not the umpire on how things go.
Misunderstanding the presence of God
While I definitely encourage special times of aloneness with God, it is important to note that we can cultivate the habit of always being conscious about his ever-presence with God. The presence of God is not a place or an activity. It can become the atmosphere we live in because God is Omnipresent. Spending thirty or whatever number of minutes per day alone with God and then living the rest of the day as if God does not exist is not productive on your overall spiritual life.
And remember you don’t always have to go somewhere private, though I encourage that. Depending on your circumstances, that might be hard to always do. So while at work, traveling, in the market etc. you can discipline your mind to stay focused on the things of God. His presence is everywhere. You can get alone with him or you can just tune in wherever we are.
I purposely didn’t include sin as one of the hindrances, but knowing someone might think about it as a hindrance, I want to say that it’s just the opposite. In saying this, I must quickly add a disclaimer: I do not condone sin. God’s word has standards and every genuine born-again believer must live according to those standards.
Intimate relationship with the Lord hinders sin. If I were to talk to someone struggling with a particular sin or habit, and thinking if only they could stop it then they would become intimate with God, I would tell them to get closer to God and see the power of that sin weakened. It is impossible to consistently and sincerely seek God with the right knowledge, and live in habitual sin.
Spending time with God, getting busy with the things of the Lord, does not mean you lose the ability to sin, neither does it mean temptations cease. It means the ease with which you could sin with before is no longer the same. The effective presence of God weakens the power and influence of sinful habits, and it is also true that a neglected closet strengthens sin.
You can let the things of God so dominate you that you get “addicted”, and it would take you time to adapt to a sinful lifestyle if you stop seeking God.
Whatever be the hindrance to you developing an intimate relationship with the Lord, you can choose to overcome it. There’s nothing as sweet as walking in close fellowship with God.