Ever have a friend that never picks up when you call?
Love him to death, but God seemed to be that friend. I grew up hearing about this ‘personal relationship’ I was supposed to have with God, but it didn’t feel very personal. On a scale of zero to ten, I ranked around a one.
I started reading a little book called “Practicing the Presence of God” and God blew my mind. The author stresses the importance of knowing God as a person and friend before you can hope to connect with him through prayer. Short, pretty simple read. Highly recommend.
Think about it. We place our belief in God, but who is God?
Do we know him from personal experience or only through what we’ve been taught? See for me, I prayed because it was what I had been taught to do, but I had never made much of a personal connection since that point. It was all in my head, but not yet in my heart.
I knew Holy Spirit lived in me, but I don’t think I really believed it deep down. My prayer life had been about me “doing” rather than me “being,” and therein lies my crucial flaw.
Jesus is more adamant about relationship than anything else.
“And a woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answer, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
Like Martha, I was too busy for Jesus – even in my prayer life. I knew Jesus lived in me, but I busied myself with other things instead. I had missed the point. Many of us need to slow down our lives and realize it’s more about spending time in God’s presence than doing good deeds for him.
Jesus said, “Come follow me”
Luke 5 describes how Jesus didn’t evangelize to Peter and John when he first met them. He didn’t even tell them how to receive salvation right away. He called them to follow him, because he knew relationship would lead to a deeper love and friendship than religion and laws ever could.
Many of us are hesitant towards this kind of relationship because it requires significant effort and intentionality. God tells us to love him above all else, but how can we love God if we do not know him as a friend and primarily be in his presence?
He gives us Holy Spirit as a helper. He wants to hear and answer prayers. He wants to heap blessings on us and pour out his gifts, but first he wants you. He invites us into a loving friendship, and calls us sons and daughters of the most high God.
We don’t have to offer sacrifices for our sins. Jesus covered that.
We don’t have to go through priests anymore. Jesus covered that.
God has always been moving closer to humanity. In the Old Testament he showed himself in imposing demonstrations of power: pillar of fire, burning bush, cloud by day. Then Jesus the son of God came along, showing humanity that he truly desired relationship with man. And when Jesus went to heaven, he sent Holy Spirit to live inside us as believers.
God wants you to walk in his presence
Sit at his feet, and set aside the prayer requests for now. It may be awkward, but know that God is speaking with you in a still small voice. Through time and practice, you will learn to recognize his voice. Once you become more familiar with him, then prayer becomes truly personal.
So next time you go to pray, think first and foremost of God. He’s the only one who can answer your prayer requests anyways, right? So let’s spend more time simply being with God in prayer rather than worrying about our life and going through our list of requests, even though there is a time and place for that.
I have amazing news!
Prayer doesn’t have to feel like a phone call anymore. God is beginning to show me what it looks like to walk in his presence, and it finally feels like I’m connecting with God in my prayers. If I have found hope, so can you.
Prayer is Presence