Pursuing Intimacy with God

Oswald Chambers wrote, "It is a joy to Jesus when a person takes time to walk more intimately with Him. The bearing of fruit is always shown in Scripture to be a visible result of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ" (My Utmost for His Highest, January 7, available online: http://www.rbc.org/utmost/index.php?month=01&day=07&year=07).

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God," penned the Psalmist (Psalm 42:2). Does that describe the cry of your heart? When you read God's Word do you find yourself yearning for Paul's passion or David's heart of worship? These men experienced what few know today--intimacy with God--and from that place of quiet communion flowed great passion, power, and purpose, changing our world forevermore.

Do you long for intimacy with God, an intimacy that will empower your ministry and change your world? It is available to each of us; we need only respond to His call.

Passionate Pursuit

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

Intimacy with God happens not by chance but by choice. It demands that we pursue God passionately, removing from our lives that which hinders our relationship with Him--the good as well as the bad--for the "good" sometimes becomes the enemy of the "best."

"If we do not have a hunger for God, we must pray for a hunger for Him," says Jenny Buckman, a pastor's wife from Virginia. "A simple but powerful prayer to pray is 'draw me.' I pray for the King to bring me into His chambers (Song of Solomon 1:4) that I would be one with whom He can share the secrets of His heart (Psalm 25:14)."

We draw near to God through a disciplined life. The spiritual disciplines, though not a means in themselves, prepare our hearts for intimate communion with the lover of our souls. Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, classifies spiritual disciplines three ways: inward--meditation, prayer, fasting, and study; outward--simplicity, solitude, submission, and service; and corporate--confession, worship, guidance, and celebration (New York: Harper & Row, 1978). Regardless of how we classify them, the key lies in their regular practice.

Consistent Prayer

"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NASB).

Intimacy with God requires consistent prayer, in all of its multifaceted beauty--praise, worship, petition, intercession, confession, and supplication. Prayer becomes the language of love, ushering us into the presence of God, where we hear His voice and feel His heart.

We must enter that place of quiet listening, where we learn to hear the heart and voice of God. In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer advises, "It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts" (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1982; 76).

God's Word tells us that He desires "truth in the inner parts" (Psalm 51:6, NIV), requiring that we come to Him with our authentic selves, stripped of pretense, our hearts exposed and vulnerable. Anything less hinders our intimacy with God.

Powerful Works

"But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32, KJV).

As we linger in God's presence, our desires are transformed; His heart's desires become ours. In this place of intimacy, we receive our "marching orders," an understanding of that divine destiny prepared for us from before the foundations of the world. From the inner chamber, we are "sent out," like the disciples of old, empowered by His Spirit to win the lost for Christ.

I have often wondered why so few enter into true intimacy with God. I believe it's because it comes with a price: death to the flesh and our prideful ways. It requires discipline and devotion, culling from our lives those things that bear little fruit for eternity yet demand large chunks of physical and emotional reserves. It means rearranging our schedules and our priorities so that we can devote time to the pursuit of God, seeking His plan and purpose for our lives.

Conclusion

Recently, I traveled with several other women from our church to hear a well-known Bible teacher. With great passion and power, she expounded on a particular passage of Scripture, challenging her hearers to follow hard after God. Stirred by her passion, the woman next to me commented, "I would love to have a close walk with God like her, but I just don't have time to read the Bible and pray. Maybe when I retire next year."

Are you putting off nurturing an intimate relationship with God? He invites you into His inner chamber, where you will be strengthened in your faith, affirmed in His love, and sent out in the power of His Holy Spirit.

How will you respond?

Mary J. Yerkes