Have you ever been envious of someone’s relationship with God?
Perhaps you know of someone who prays more intensely, has deeper spiritual insight, or boldness in sharing the gospel, or just seems uninhibited in worship. These are some fruits of spending time in the presence of God and experiencing Him in everyday life.
No matter how great your intentions, let me assure you: Intimacy with God does not happen by wishing.
Often, the greatest encounters with Christ come after an intentional pursuit. A decision you make to draw closer to God, whether the decision is made through your just feeling distant, or some tragedy hits your life and you realize you need to get closer to God, whatever the reason, you would have had to make an intentional decision to pursue more of your relationship with God.
In close human relationships, we are totally relaxed around each other. A close relationship with God should be no different. Quality time in His presence produces uninhibited worship, which produces boldness, wisdom, healing and many other gifts the Spirit of God offers.
Suddenly, you can dance before the Lord like no one’s watching, lift your hands unashamedly in worship, or praise God more intensely than shouting for your favourite sports team.
You can stand among a crowd of people and worship like you are before an audience of one — the One who matters most. This kind of passion is only gained from deliberate time in the presence of God — from personal experiences with Him.
If you’re thinking, “I would love to worship like that, but …”, you are not alone. Many Christians desire this depth of devotion, yet something stands in the way. In the New Testament, those who really desired to encounter Jesus had to pursue Him. There was always something to push through.
As [Jesus] went, the crowds pressed in on Him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind Him and touched the fringe/ (hem) of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. — Luke 8:42-44
She determined to press through the crowd to encounter Him, and she was rewarded for the effort.
What stands before you and your encounter with Jesus?
Identifying the obstacles that may be standing in the way of a closer encounter with God
You will never dine at the table of Christ if you let people stand in your way.
Luke 19 is the story of Zacchaeus, a man whose short stature hindered him from seeing Jesus through a crowd of people. Zacchaeus determined to overcome the crowd by climbing a tree. His tenacity caught the attention of Jesus and led to the opportunity to spend personal time in Christ’s presence.
Perhaps it’s the people in your life — friends, family, co-workers — who are holding you back from an intimate relationship with God. Are you afraid that people will ridicule your passion or mock your faith? Do you fear their questions? You will never dine at the table of Christ if you let people stand in your way.
Never feel as if you are not good enough to spend time in God’s presence.
During a prayer service, a friend was healed from excruciating back pain. With one bold prayer, the pain was gone. Yet it took her nearly a year to ask the healing evangelist for prayer. Why? She thought she was unworthy!
We sometimes allow an “I’m-not-deserving” attitude to stand in the way of encountering God. Yet, as Christians, we have bold access to the Father (see Hebrews 4:16). Never feel as if you are not good enough to spend time in God’s presence or ask for something supernatural from Him. “THERE IS THEREFORE NOW, NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE IN CHRIST JESUS”
Protecting your comfort can be a lid that limits your intimacy with God.
When asked to pray aloud, I’ve heard people decline FOR MANY REASONS, none of which were valid or biblical, “I worship God privately.” Certainly, it is essential to worship the Lord privately, but many individuals use that as an excuse for being afraid to pray in front of others. I understand that people worship God in many different ways, but we must be careful that our personal “style” of worship is not really an excuse to stay within a comfort zone. Protecting your comfort can be a lid that limits your intimacy with God.
Plenty of other issues could be addressed: pride, control, or tradition, to name a few. Nevertheless, all stem from a single root issue — fear. If faith is the currency of God, then fear is the currency of the devil. And he will pour on the fear to keep you in chains. But fear not, the Bible assures, “You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Romans 8:15). With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can determine to press passed any obstacle.
My purpose here is to help you recognize what it is that might be holding you back from a deeper and more passionate relationship with God. There are two foundational steps that must come first:
1) Be diligent in spending time in God’s presence. Undistracted prayer, contending with God’s Spirit for more of Him is a great place to begin.
2) Learn to love worship and the act of worship! Worship is a response to God’s presence, from which healing, deliverance, boldness and spiritual gifts flow
No amount of hope or wishing will draw you closer to God. You can’t receive someone else’s passion through osmosis. People who truly experience God do so on purpose!