Intimacy with God, a passion worth pursuing. Here’s why

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Intimacy with God is a passion in my heart. It’s a topic I can’t stop talking about. Most of what I write here or in my unpublished books has intimacy with God as the main or sub theme. It’s a cry from my heart.

I just wish I could make someone want more of God in their lives. I just wish I could make someone abandon the dry Christianity we see today and get to a place of a vibrant relationship with the Lord.

I just wish I could make someone abandon prayerlessness and begin to discipline the flesh in the place of prayer and Bible studies.

I just wish I could make someone stop being vulnerable to false teachings and false teachers and get to being fed by the Spirit of the Lord. I just wish I could make someone prioritize the pursuit of intimacy with God, putting it at the top of their lists.

The passion in my heart is also hampered by my own struggles. It is possible for mundane activities to steal away the time and enthusiasm of following God wholeheartedly. It is possible even for busyness with Christian activities to steal away the time meant for God.

It is possible to replace God with busyness for him. Many do it. But that’s not how God wants us to go about living for him. He must be at the center of everything, time alone with him cannot be replaced with service.

It is in the secret place that we find our strength. It is in the secret place that we receive renewal and avoid burn out.

No matter what level you are in your Christian life and relationship with the Lord, there’s more of God you haven’t yet experienced.

Complacency can’t be tolerated without its consequences being felt. That is why it is possible to walk with the Lord for so many years and still end up being as carnal as the unbeliever next door.

The moment you stop desiring to know God more, the moment you stop prioritizing relationship with the Lord, you give your flesh more and more dominance. You can’t sustain today’s walk with the success of yesterday. And because the flesh is contrary to the spirit, a highly spiritual man who stops seeking God will revert to being carnal.

Dry, powerless but noisy Christianity is rampant. Complacency and mediocrity in the knowledge of God’s Word abound. The churches are full but there’s no true fire or passion for God in the hearts of the majority.

Many want to be spoon-fed, they enjoy being spoon-fed, and because false teachers leverage on such easily captivated minds to make money, many are not even aware they are being spoon-fed toxic food while being fleeced of their hard-earned money.

The discipline to seek God personally through his Word is such a huge effort that many prefer to remain spoon-fed babies for their entire Christian lives.

What will it take? Is it so hard to discipline oneself to begin seeking God earnestly on a personal level? Is it so hard to pick up a Bible and ask the Holy Spirit for enlightenment? Is it so hard to go into the closet and spend time alone with God?

It is hard, and it is not hard. Depends on your attitude towards relationship with God.

We dedicate time, money and energy to the pursuit of our passions and dreams. That mindset makes us want to succeed no matter the challenges.

Isn’t that the same mindset we should have towards relationship with God? A mindset that says I must diligently seek God. I must know him more. I must live for him. I must understand his will for me and strive to fulfill it.

Why is intimacy with God a passion worth pursuing?

When it comes to pursuing passion, it’s easier to do so because passion means something we like. Intimacy with God is not in that category because it is not something that we like in the sense of its pursuit consuming us. It is a passion we pursue because it is indispensable to our Christian life.

Our flesh is our number one enemy when it comes to pursuing this passion. Unlike other passions, say for example, writing, music, acting, whatever, all of our being wants it. Therefore we do our best to pursue it, ’cause we derive joy from the fulfillment.

Intimacy with God is a passion of our born-again spirits which our unregenerate flesh hates. That is where the difficulty comes in. If not of the obstacle presented by our flesh, majority of Christians would be on fire for God, desire will be turned into concrete actions, and walk will replace empty talk.

God made us for intimacy with him

This is the top reason why we must pursue intimacy with him. He made us for it. Why did Jesus die for our sins? The quickest answer might be something like this, ‘so we don’t go to hell.’ But that’s not true. He died to bring man back to fellowship with God.

We all know John 3:16 by heart. But it is not enough to say, you are born-again. That’s just the first step to a life-long relationship of pursuing God.

John 17:2-3

As You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

The knowing here is the kind expressed by Apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 3 from verse 7 to verse 14. “That I may know him”, the great apostle cries out.

This can be compared with the contrast between believing and faith. The Bible mentions in James 2:16 that the devils also believe that there is one God, they even tremble. But they don’t have faith in that one God, because their actions are not in accordance with their believing.

So too does mere knowing and intimate knowing differ. A Christian who merely knows God may even  have much knowledge ABOUT God, but is not living in vibrant fellowship with him.

While a Christian who knows God intimately talks to him and hears God talk back to him, and he walks with God in obedience to his revealed Word and to the urgings of the Spirit within. The Christian who knows God intimately wants to know him even more.

 

The Christian should not be satisfied with the mere born-again experience. There’s much more to that!

Intimacy with God keeps our Christian life ‘alive’

‘Dead’ Christianity is a product of no intimacy with God. It is the fire coming from the closet that keeps us burning on fire for God.

A Christian who doesn’t spend time with God in prayer and Bible study becomes carnal in his reasoning and actions. He lacks the force to resist sin and temptation. He lacks the boldness of the righteous.

If you want to live holy, spend time with God, knowing his ways and making yourself pliable in his hands and to the influence of the Holy Spirit. If you want to be as bold as a lion, spend time knowing God.

Intimacy with God is the springboard for our success as Christians

This is one of the problems we have in Christianity today: many are busy for God without a living private relationship with him. Many are talking about a God that is very distant from them in terms of personal fellowship.

The effort to spend time with God is just so huge many do not want to make it, yet they want a platform from which to talk about God. That’s the reason for copy-pasted ministries, shallow preaching and teaching, burn-out and self-centeredness Christianity.

Our true success as Christians only comes from an intimate relationship with God. When we get immersed in God, our talk and walk flow from that immersion and the impact of our lives must be felt by those we come across.

That way we do not worry whether we have eloquence or elegance; it’s the power of a spirit-filled life which is in constant communion with God that touches those around us.

The disciples of the Lord were ordinary men of no education, yet their speech left no small impact upon their hearers. Amazed by their talk, the Sanhedrin noted, ‘they had been with Jesus’.

These disciples talked of a Jesus that was real to them. They didn’t use high sounding eloquent speech; they spoke from a place of intimate knowledge and relationship:

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Peter and John said in Acts 4:20

From that place of relationship, they could not be intimidated into fear and cowardice. They so knew what they had seen and heard that they would die for it.

Does that contrast with the prevalent Christianity today that is so fearful of criticism and backlash that the message of the gospel has been watered down to accommodate man’s approval?

Full churches, few disciples

I heard someone boasts about the churches being full. This tells us how different we evaluate success from the way God does. One bible teacher I love listening to basically says as fact that most mega-churches will see their numbers dwindle if they preach the right message. If the large numbers of people thronging the churches are taught about living for God and following him all the way no matter the cost, most pews will be empty.

Some people go to church for entertainment, others in search of prophecies, signs and wonders, and others in search of lovers. A full church is no sign of success for the owner or leadership of the church. The wrong message could be attracting a seeker-friendly crowd.

The same with whatever assignment God gives us, success is not in the numbers. It is in the impact. And there would be no true impact unless we’re giving out of what we’re receiving from God. Else we experience burn out from constantly giving out of a dry well.

No greater passion

For the Christian, there should be no passion greater than the desire to know God intimately. The same way we spend ourselves to see the success of our dreams and goals, the same way we should endeavor to succeed in our relationship with God.

Knowing God more is not automatic. You can’t have it by someone laying their hands on you. You can’t have it by being prophesied to. You can’t have it by merely praying, ‘God, make me know you more’, and then doing nothing about it.

God wants you to know him. Access to him is always open. Your heart attitude is your response to God’s invitation.

Psalm 27:8

8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

God is no respecter of persons. He is a rewarder of anyone who diligently seeks him (Hebrews 11:6).

Those people we admire their walk with God had to face the same challenges hindering us. But they put priority on spending time with God and striving to live for him. It didn’t happen effortlessly or overnight.

It was a dedication to make the whole of their lives a pursuit of more of God. And that decision translated into acts of self-discipline, limiting distractions, and living for what counts most.

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God is the same, the supplier of the grace to live the way he wants us to.

You too can know God intimately. I can know God intimately. Let’s make it a priority, a passion worth pursuing.

know God intimately

God bless,

Janet.

Further reading:

Intimacy with God is not given, it is pursued

4 Hindrances to developing an intimate relationship with the Lord

8 Simple things that can make quiet time with God consistent, enjoyable and rewarding

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You’ve set aside time to be with the Lord, either in the morning when you wake up or some other time during the day. But when you come before the Lord you feel unmotivated, tired, you constantly yawn, you feel sleepy, you may even fall asleep, your mind is going everywhere; it’s just boring. You can’t even remember what it is you prayed for or read from your Bible after you leave the place of prayer. You go for many days without time alone with God, then you get serious again, but just for a few days, and the up and down cycle just continues. You wish you were consistent and excited about prayer or personal Bible study, but that’s not always the case.

Many of us certainly will identify with this scenario. Our desire to know God more is not always met with everyday actions that see the desire fulfilled. It’s a struggle every believer faces. But it is not a struggle that many seem to overcome or know how to overcome.

Many believers would admit to being complacent and spiritually unmotivated. We don’t plan to be unserious about our relationship with God, yet it more often than not happens that we find ourselves failing behind in spiritual disciplines.

There are all these songs out there about the presence of the Lord being a place to be. I couldn’t agree more. There’s no place like the presence of God, there’s nothing more wonderful than spending time with the Lord. It brings an animation to our personal lives like nothing else will do. It is a place of refreshment, renewal, strengthening; a place to lay down our burdens and cares and take up the joy and peace of the Lord; a time to cast our fears on the Lord and have our faith in his love, faithfulness and power encouraged. No doubt the Bible says:

Psalm 91:1-2

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

The entire psalm 91 lists the blessings that rest upon the soul that makes the presence of God a dwelling place.

With all these promised blessings, why is it many of us do not actually enjoy the presence of God? Why is it only few actually find quiet time with the Lord an exciting moment? Why is private prayer a boring experience? Why is it that even when we are in the habit of spending time with the Lord, there are times we just can’t wait for that time to be over, so we can go do something more exciting.

They could be different answers to these questions. Two that I think of involve our heart attitude and also things we do (or don’t do) that influence how we approach and spend time with God.

If we do not consciously make a decision to fight against and overcome spiritual complacency, we would not help but be complacent.

The things I’ll mention in the points below would be of no use unless we adopt an attitude of pursuing the things of God through ‘Gritted teeth’. That means taking a conscious decision to spend time with God, to study his Word, no matter what, because we know how important that exercise is to our overall Christian welfare. If we do not discipline our bodies and act out what we know, there’s no way we can overcome spiritual complacency; we would only have the talk but no walk.

It is not enough to have time dedicated to being alone with the Lord. That time must be rewarding, else it becomes formality, a religious exercise done to satisfy our feelings and hyper-sensitive consciences.

Just so I don’t repeat some things, I recommend you read 4 Hindrances to developing an intimate relationship with the Lord and 9 Wonderful ways to ruin your quiet time with the Lord

That said, let’s look at simple things we can do to make our time with the Lord enjoyable and rewarding. Some of these are so mundane I wonder why it took me so long to realize their influence on personal time with the Lord.  I guess some may actually be funny to you depending on your culture and environment, for these are things we sometimes do, though not for the purpose of having them influence our spiritual lives.

All but two involve our bodies, because it is that part of us which poses the biggest hindrance to pursuing the things of God, for the Scripture says, ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ (Matthew 26:41). With these, I believe we can see the willingness of our spirits prevail over the weakness and hindrance that is many times our body.

They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Give your body enough rest.

This is what I am currently doing. There are days I still find it hard going to bed early enough. Sometimes because of many ideas flooding my mind, I may not quickly fall asleep in the night, and I’ll have to get up and work on the computer. But I have made a decision: no matter when I finally fall asleep, I’m going to give my body the rest it needs.

give your body enough rest

This may not be anything to someone else but from where I am coming, it’s a great step. During my legalistic years, I was actually taught that if I wake up after the Muslim call to prayer, my prayers would be useless and my day not blessed. It is a shame I believed that, but yes I did. I even read a book by a popular preacher who basically implied that a good Christian should not be in bed after 2 a.m.; you should be up praying or studying.

That mentality made me guilty each time I got up to see it was past 5 a.m. It was one reason why I hardly had morning devotions all those years, or when I did, it was all ritual to salve a guilty conscience.

Having recovered from legalism, I still wanted to wake up early in the morning to spend ample time with the Lord before I begin my day’s activities. I tried several times to keep my quiet time with the Lord at 4 a.m. Sometimes it was successful, but many times it was not. Depending on when I went to bed, my body would still be tired and sleepy, and my mind wouldn’t pay attention to what I was reading.

That way, it was difficult to be consistent in spending time with the Lord. And consistency is very important. Spending little time with the Lord on a daily basis is more effective than spending long irregular moments with him.

Any Christian discipline can be transformed into ritual. The purpose of every discipline must then always be at the forefront of why that discipline is to be engaged. That way you’d always have the right attitude towards it.

If your body is tired or sleepy, there’s no way you can enjoy your time with the Lord.

A tired and sleepy body could be a result of overeating, lack of exercise or lack of enough rest. Treat the body well. Treat the cause instead of forcing the body to go through an exercise aimlessly.

  1. Begin with singing.

I don’t say always begin with singing. But it’s good to begin with singing if your body is unmotivated or your mind is distracted. A cool worshipful song is a great way to rein in your wayward mind or stubborn body. I find that after singing for a while, the resistance of my body simply gives way and I am able to enjoy fellowship with the Lord.

  1. Find the right posture/environment.

Take a posture and/or look for an environment that will not encourage you falling asleep while in prayers reading the Bible. You may need to stand or walk around instead of lying on the bed, sitting or kneeling. You may need to leave the bedroom if the sight of your bed makes you want to go to sleep.

  1. Physical exercise

I bet all of us are familiar with that scenario where our body doesn’t just feel like it… the body is just not in the mood. Except, of course, in carnal things that need little to no motivation, such as binge eating, watching TV or aimlessly browsing the internet.

There’s a reason why physical exercise is called keep fit. It not only implies fitness in terms of health, but also in terms of agility and having a body that is light.

bodily exercise for spiritual gains

If you find morning devotions or quiet moments with the Lord boring because of your heavy body, then physical exercise is what you need to overcome that. I also find that physical exercise helps against yawning during prayer.

Remember you don’t have to be overweight to have a ‘heavy’ body. Your muscles simply need some stretching to make them agile again.

 

 

 

 

  1. Discipline your appetite

The mouth is one area in which lack of discipline affects other areas as well. An undisciplined mouth results inevitably in an undisciplined body generally. This applies to speech as well as food. One way to tell your body the spirit is the boss is by disciplining the mouth. One reason why you may find it difficult disciplining yourself to pray or study the Word could be because your mouth is undisciplined. It eats whatever the eye sees, whenever it sees it and in what amounts it wants. It vomits out whatever is in your mind without thought as to the effect of your words on your listeners and on you. There’s no control, no restriction. As such the flesh gains dominance over the spirit. The spirit’s willingness and desire for the things of God is then overridden by the body’s lack of subordination.

spiritual dieting

It is amazing what a single day of fasting and spending time with God can do in terms of taming bodily desires. That effect can and should be encouraged through a daily discipline of the mouth on what and how it eats.

When to eat is equally important. If you want to spend time with the Lord very early in the morning, don’t eat later in the evening. It’s even not advisable for your health. Don’t give your body work to do when it’s supposed to be resting, else you get up in the morning very tired.

  1. Change scenery

There’s a spot outside our house here where I love sitting and chatting with God. I sometimes resent the fact that where I presently reside there are no lonely areas where one can go to and just be alone with God. That makes me planning on when I build my house, I would designate a large room only for prayer and studies with nothing inside except a table, chair and flowers. And then I’ll have a large lawn where one can sit and just be alone, praying or studying.

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In the open air, the mind is less clouded than when in a stuffed room. You can gaze into the sky as you worship God, beholding the wonders of his workmanship.

The closet should be understood in terms of you being alone with God, not necessary a quiet place of prayer indoors. You can choose to take a walk along a less busy path, on the lawn, etc.

  1. Visit with God. Enjoy God!

That is what quiet moments should be – visiting with God. When you visit a friend, if it is a true friend, you don’t spend all the time talking. You also sit and silently enjoy each other’s presence. You don’t only talk ‘serious’ issues. You also have informal discussions.

When I started out as a new believer, one excuse I had for not spending time with the Lord was that I didn’t know what to pray for. I desired to pray, but I didn’t have what to say that was really ‘important’. If I only knew that I could just visit with God, just come away with him, sing to him, or just be and say nothing, I could have turned that desire into action, spending time alone with the Lord.

visiting with God in silence

The same could be said of fasting. We think of fasting when in dire need, but we can equally discipline our bodies and not eat, not because we have some pressing need, but because we just want to come away from all distractions and just visit with the Lord, spend time thinking about him and letting him speak to our hearts.

 

  1. Practice the presence of God

Live in the presence of God every moment. He is always with us, but we are not always conscious of that reality. But we can teach ourselves to always be in constant communion with God by being aware of his ever presence. We can talk with him as we go about our normal activities. Then, when we come to being alone with him, it would no longer be a tedious exercise to discipline our minds and our bodies.

Personal private relationship with God should be a lifestyle with believers. Our desire to know the Lord more should prompt us to look for ways to overcome whatever obstacles and hindrances are on our path. These could involve major or simple changes.

We spend time, energy and money, making changes to areas of our lives as deemed necessary. That’s the same attitude me must have concerning our personal walk with the Lord. We must put in the time and effort it deserves to succeed.

I pray this post blesses you enough to motivate you to action.

God bless,

Jane.

9 Wonderful ways to ruin your quiet time with the Lord

 

rewards

The importance of spending time alone with the Lord cannot be overemphasized. It should be the life of the believer if he has to succeed in his walk with the Lord. If he has to lessen the pull of carnality and to live a life of victory over sin and the world. If he has to dig deeper into his Word to mine the treasures contained therein.  If he has to get acquainted with God’s voice.

Spending time alone with the Lord should be a priority. A conscious pursuit. The Christian must seek to overcome complacency in this area. Pursuing intimacy with God must be one of the top goals of the individual believer.

I wrote about the , in a bid to encourage the reader to do so. Yet at the same time, there are attitudes that can make that time with the Lord useless or not as beneficial as it should be.

I have once been a victim of most if not all of these attitudes. It was not until I abandoned them that I began to reap the benefits of spending time with the Lord.

Some of these are common place among believers.

  1. Be time-conscious. Set an alarm clock.

I used to set an alarm clock when in prayers as a discipline to my flesh. Five minutes in prayer can seem like an hour, and I wanted to spend longer time than my flesh was willing to tolerate. So I went for the alarm clock.

The result of using an alarm was that I worried more about the time than paying attention to prayer. I frequently checked my phone to see if I did really set the time correctly. It would seem to me that the alarm should have come on but the time was apparently longer than what I had thought. I would be relieved when the sound finally came on.

That activity didn’t benefit me the way it should have because time consciousness turned it into a formality.

The best way is to come before God with the goal of spending quality time with him. Quantity is useless without quality. Spending five minutes in true fellowship with the Lord is better than spending an hour while constantly checking or waiting for the alarm clock to sound.

  1. Seek an emotional or supernatural experience

Most of us will love it if during and after prayer we feel like we’ve really prayed. If during prayer we experience a trance like the apostle Peter. If we have an angelic visitation like Cornelius. If we can have visions and hear God talk to us in spectacular ways.

So we sing and we pray in the spirit while waiting for that emotional high or supernatural experience to come on.

That is not only spiritually dangerous, but useless as far as reaping the benefits of spending time with the Lord. In seeking an experience, you can open up yourself to demonic spirits.

Prayer is an act of faith. You believe God exists, that he hears you and that he can talk back to you. You should praise and worship him because he is worthy, not doing that as a means of preparing your body and mind for an emotional or supernatural experience. You should pray to God because he is a person, not a force you are trying to invoke to manifest to your carnal satisfaction.

  1. Talk to God as if he’s some force or influence

This is in accord with the last sentence in point two above.

God is not weird. He is a conscious being. That is how we must approach him. He is not some force like wind, fire or an inexplicable emotion. He is a conscious being, although he is spirit. We can’t see him, but he’s real. By faith we can approach him and speak with him as we would normally speak with our fellow humans.

  1. Use high-sounding words

God is a caring Father. He loves us; he cherishes the fact that we spend time with him.

He is also friendly. While respect for him must be emphasized, protocol is not necessary.  You can talk to him in your own parlance.

Talk to him from your heart, in simple language. He knows and understands what you have to say even before you say it. So calm down, put away the dictionary, and just talk to your Father.

  1. Don’t pour out your heart to him

It is possible to come before God and not really pour out your heart; and not tell him how you really feel and think. Coupled with using high-sounding words, you might find yourself acting before God like a superhuman, especially if you have been made to believe that it is wrong to admit negative feelings to God.

Well, God knows already. You can’t pretend before him. If you are aching, pour out your heart to God. If you are confused, tell him. If you are depressed, talk to him about the situation.

You’ll be amazed at how much relief you’ll receive after doing that. For me, Bible verses or encouraging thoughts come to my mind when I do that.

To avoid turning this into complaining, you need to pour out your heart to God in faith, not in anger and resentment towards him. You must believe that he cares about you and expect him to give you the help you need at that particular moment.

  1. Parrot until you say, “In Jesus name, amen”. Then get up and leave.

That’s not fellowship. It’s recitation.

God wants to talk with you. As you come to spend time with him, make the effort to listen for his voice. Don’t just talk until you are through, then you rush out. Learn to wait before the Lord. In silence. In studying his word.

  1. Allow your mind to wander. Do not discipline it.

You shouldn’t be talking to God or apparently reading the word when your mind is out shopping, dating or watching TV. Discipline your mind.

  1. Talk to the devil instead

Devil and demon-consciousness can make you spend lots of time addressing the devil. Some believers put much emphasis on the devil’s activities that their consciousness of the evil one is more than their consciousness of God, even in the closet. It ought not to be so.

Time with the Lord is just what it is – time with the Lord.

  1. Only read the Word; do not study it.

Just read and tick the daily record. That’s what I did the first time I went through the entire Bible. The only benefit I got from the exercise was the pride of having gone through the Bible. I wasn’t taught, I wasn’t blessed, I couldn’t even remember what I’d read once I closed the book.

The Bible was written for us, not for God. When we read and study it, we are the ones who get blessed. God is not impressed by our Bible reading; he wants us to know him and his will through his word.

Merely reading the Bible will not benefit much; studying will. You need to stop and reflect in the course of reading. Ask yourself what the passage is saying, read similar verses in other portions of Scripture; make use of commentaries and Bible dictionaries to get the historical and cultural context and full meanings of some of the words. That is studying.

You’d be amazed at how much treasure you can find in the Word when you study instead of merely reading.

I doubt if my list is exhaustive. In summary, there are attitudes we adopt that make our time with God a waste of time, an activity done out of formality, instead of quality time of fellowship with the heavenly Father.

Time alone with God is an awesome time when we have the right mindset: fellowship with a conscious being who loves us. We can communicate our hearts to him in the friendliest and most intimate way.

Recommended reading:

4 Benefits of spending ample time with the Lord

Intimacy with God is not given, it is pursued

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I have always wanted from the time I became born-again to know God in an intimate way. From the moment I believed in Jesus, I always knew God was a living God and that it is possible to live in very close fellowship with Him, hearing His voice clearly and obeying Him fully.

Yet that dream eluded me for the most part of my Christian life. The hunger never seemed to be satisfied no matter how intense I desired to know God more. Now I’m not saying a Christian should and can come to a place where they don’t desire or see a need for more of God, but I’m talking about coming to a place where relationship with God is not shallow. Where it is not just about going to church, being busy with activities, or even having knowledge of Scriptures. I’m talking of the place where you know that you know that you know, “God is with me, He’s my Father, my Friend, I talk to him, and I hear him talk back to me. I actually enjoy him.”

From my personal experience and from interactions with others, I know it’s a genuine desire of many of God’s dear children, majority of whom never come to know God in ways that are satisfactory to his fatherly heart.

Why did it take me so long?

It is worth saying that intimacy with God is neither instantaneous nor automatic for anyone who gets born-again. Salvation opens the door for relationship with God, yet individual Christians experience various levels or degrees of fellowship with God. Why?

  • Intimacy is developed

Becoming more intimate with God is a process. You begin relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and you start learning about God and His ways through His Word and through developing a prayer life (style). Somehow, it is right to say you can’t microwave this stage, but it would be right as well to say there are things you can do to slow the process or to never arrive at knowing God more intimately, which is where the next points come in.

  • Desire is not enough

Desiring to know God more will NOT make you know Him if the desire is not being matched with corresponding actions of fellowship with God and studying His Word. We must act on the desires springing up in our hearts in order to see the dreams realized.

  • Prayer is not the solution

By prayer here I mean petitioning God to make you know Him more as if intimacy will come as an answer to prayer, without responsibility on your part. That was a big one with me. For years I prayed, “O Lord, I want to know you more.” But honestly my study of the Word and my prayer life were neither consistent with nor commensurate to the desire in my heart. I read Christian books and listened to audio teachings, and though that helped greatly, it still fell short of my desire as I acquired a head full of knowledge. And I would sometimes pray, “Lord, I want the kind of intimacy that So-and-so had or has with you.” and finally the answer to my prayer was point  below.

  • Intimacy is not given. It is pursued

As your God and Father, the LORD is withholding nothing from you that he desires you to have. And the primary purpose of our creation and salvation in Christ Jesus is to have children can relate with in very intimate ways. Therefore it is not God that determines how intimate with him you can be. It’s your responsibility.

I know that can be a little hard for some to receive, but it’s the truth. It would be great if we could aimlessly browse the internet all day every day, watch all the movies we can, attend to everything that demands our attention, and somehow still arrive at being intimate with God. But that’s not how it works.

One of the heroes I was looking at his life and desiring such intimacy with God has an account of his life where his family rejected him and he lived some time as a homeless young man, sometimes outside in the winter snow, and during those moments, he just loved on God. If he was chatting with others and it was time to go talk with God, nothing would stop him from doing so. He would quietly withdraw from the company and make time for God.

The question I asked myself when I realized intimacy is pursued was whether this guy never had the same human limitations I do. Of course, if he was human, he did. Yet how many times had I excused not spending time with God for various reasons, “I am chatting on social media, I might miss out on something important if I now go talk with God”, “the morning is too cold, let me sleep a little longer,” “My body feels weak, let me rest awhile” (only to wake up hours later to do other business). “I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray or study, but…er…” and yet desiring more of God! That doesn’t sound anyway closer to a pursuit. It’s called wishing, and it won’t get the job done!

  • Intimacy is a living relationship.

Busyness and service can never replace intimacy with God. Yesterday’s devotedness will never excuse today’s complacency, laziness and procrastination. Hearing God’s voice is imperative at all times. It’s not about having knowledge of God; it’s knowing him, becoming more intimately acquainted with him as we learn to recognize his voice more clearly. It is possible to have the right theological knowledge and yet not know God, therefore, while we need to have correct knowledge of God, we need to seek a daily living relationship with him. He is a living person, not some abstract force or power somewhere out there. We can know him. He wants us to.

  • A pursuit is a conscious adventure.

It’s been said so many times that the message has been drained out of the statement, “you need to make out time for God”, but the reality of that encouragement remains till the Lord comes again.

If we do not consciously and intentionally make out time for God, our relationship with Him suffers, and no amount of desire or prayer for more of God will make us know God more.

Choose today to make relationship with God a priority. Spend ample time with him, in praise and worship, in listening to his voice, in prayer taking even the tiniest concerns of your life to him. He is your Father.

Psalm 27:8 KJV

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

God bless,

Jane

4 Hindrances to developing an intimate relationship with the Lord

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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.

  1. Legalism

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.

Tired
Legalism makes Christianity a stressful experience. It doesn’t make the presence of God a place to be.

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!

2. Laziness, procrastination and complacency

These hindrances are grouped together because they usually go hand in glove and are mostly caused by an abundance of distractions.

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Much of what we watch on the screens (TV, tablet, phones) is not useful, yet in many cases, they are the reasons why there’s no time for the things of God.

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.

3. 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.

4. 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 us. 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. 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 will 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.

God bless,

Jane

4 Benefits of spending ample time with the Lord

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Amen

Jane.

7 Signs you are straining instead of abiding in God

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I was straining, instead of abiding for many years as a Christian. I loved God and desired more than anything else to live for Him. But I had the impression that I had to do much to make my relationship with God to work.

Despite every effort I made to make it work, I just couldn’t. There was generalized joylessness, anxiety, unbelief; I battled discouragement and sometimes plain despair.

I knew somewhere deep within, that true Christianity is supposed to be enjoyable, not strenuous; I would read of others’ great experiences with God and beat myself up for not doing enough for God to be so real to me too. So I would think of more fasting, more praying, more resolve to study, more this and more that. Those were my days as a legalist.

I finally got worn-out and I just told the Lord I was tired of the kind of experience I was having with Him and if He didn’t show me what was wrong, “I will quit seeking you”. It was actually an ultimatum and I meant it.

I wasn’t arrogant but I was serious in my desire to see a change. I didn’t mean I will renounce Christ but I planned on only being a nominal Christian at best.

Few days after the “ultimatum”, I just had this phrase “striving, not abiding” lingering in my mind. So I read some about what it means to abide and it became clear to me God had replied. That night I decided not to go to bed until I had laid down all the striving, all the strenuous pursuit of God; I was going to experience “peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

It wasn’t easy letting go. I could not easily see myself resting. But thank God, he came through and helped me.

It’s the lessons I learnt that I want to share here. I discover that many Christians are like I was: having the right desire for God but going about it the wrong way. I have been around many Christians and it is usually almost the same experience I was having with God.

The list I present may not be exhaustive; I give out of my own experience.

  1. Worry

Someone who is striving does not know how to be still. In fact, when you choose to start abiding, the first concern you will think of is how to overcome fretfulness.  This is the most common sign. Because of difficulty in being still, there is usually confusion on decision-making.

You may pray (sometimes more), but worry takes supremacy and incapacitates your faith, causing you to take decisions out of fear and not a resting faith.

  1. Unable to “be” without “doing”

A striver does not find his identity in Christ, he can’t easily enjoy God simply out of relationship; rather he feels important and pleasing to God only when he is doing something worthwhile.

He may intellectually know he is God’s child because of what the Lord Jesus accomplished, but still go about trying to be acceptable to God through his own doings.  When his day is filled with mundane activities, he finds it hard being excited about God. When he gets busy with spiritual matters, he may get excited because of the feeling of importance he derives from such activity.

  1. Unnecessary longer prayers

The Lord Jesus said it is not long praying that guarantees an answer. He assured His disciples that the Father knows what they need before they ask, and  so they can as well just make a request without repeating words (see Matthew 6:7).

A person who strives does not believe in short prayers. His faith does not rest in God’s faithfulness to His Word, rather he believes so much in prolonged prayers even if the same words have to be repeated over and over again. The truth is, long praying makes him feel good about the prayer and because he feels this way, he then can have confidence that God will answer.

  1. Fear of missing out on God

This was really a major with me. I constantly was afraid that I may miss out on what God had in stock for me. So I felt compelled to pray more just in case nothing went wrong that could hinder God’s agenda for me.

I have met people like this too. They believe that the longer the better, but that is not true. Prayer is relationship. And a good relationship with the Lord is founded on His love for us. A child who has learned to rest does not fear. He believes God’s love will guide and lead, and the fear of missing out on God simply evaporates.

  1. “Worship” before supplication

A striver can’t just in the middle of some activity, make a request to God. If He has a burden, a request to make to the Lord, it is almost sacrilegious for him to go straight to the point and cast that burden on the Lord or make the request. He feels permitted to supplicate only after “worshipping” and confessing sin. Instead of pouring out his heart to the Lord, a striver usually goes about eulogizing God (even when he doesn’t actually contemplate on those great words), just so he can feel permitted to make a demand on God. This picture doesn’t look like a good Father-child relationship.

  1. Not appreciating the growth process

For the striver, there is nothing like growth process. He never takes time to appreciate how far he’s come. It is usually about how far he still has to go. Constantly beating himself up for not being more committed, not doing enough, etc. the striver only helps to hamper his own growth and defeat his very desire to grow and mature in the Christian life

  1. Straining to make and keep resolutions

The striver, because he is not abiding in the Lord, undermines the ministry of the Holy Spirit by thinking he can manifest holiness in his own strength. So he makes rules and regulations, which he may find hard to keep, thereby bringing in false guilt, condemnation and discouragement. Even if the striver succeeds to be outwardly holy, there’s usually a lack of joy because of the struggle he goes through to produce the results.

I can’t tell how relieving it was to know I should rest, not struggle in relationship with the Lord. It took away a lot of pressure from me. It was during a period in my life that I was making a life changing decision, and I am grateful to the Lord He taught me how to rest, not fret.

That was not the end of the struggle; I would later find myself in moments of striving and not abiding. It seems our natural selves have the tendency to gravitate towards that direction. It is therefore important to constantly keep our relationship on God founded on His love for us, not on what we can do to impress Him.

Are you striving instead of resting in God? You can make a change and enjoy being a child of the Most High. Amen.

Make a decision today to stop striving. Seek to abide

God bless,

Jane