If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably experienced “dry” times in your devotional life with God—you know, those times when prayer and Bible study become mere “duties” to check off your list each day. They begin to feel burdensome and laborious, and it seems as though your prayers don’t reach beyond the ceiling. Often, this attitude can develop from a misunderstanding of what communion with God really is.
As we dig deeper into the Bible, we find a completely different perspective on the spiritual disciplines. That perspective is grounded in an understanding of who God is and how He views us.
1. How does God view each one of us? Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord has loved us “with an everlasting love” and drawn us with His “lovingkindness.” These phrases convey relationship.
2. What kind of relationship does Jesus want to have with us? Revelation 3:20
Jesus pictures Himself as knocking at the doors of our hearts and desiring entrance in order to “sup” with us. In Middle Eastern culture, dining together with someone in his or her home was considered a gesture of closeness and friendship; thus, Jesus utilizes this metaphor to emphasize His desire for an intimate relationship with us.
3. How does Jesus describe eternal life? John 17:3
Knowing Jesus is where true eternal life begins. The Greek word for “know” in this verse is ginosko, which implies a deep and intimate knowledge of someone; it means “to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of, perceive, feel” or “to become acquainted with” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions).
How then can we develop this kind of relationship with God? We will look at a couple of ways.
1. What is a key to sustaining one’s spiritual life and remaining in the love of God? Jude 1:20, 21
2. What was Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians? 1 Thessalonians 5:17
3. How can we pray without ceasing in our day-to-day lives? Genesis 5:22, 24; Nehemiah 2:4
4. What are we invited to do in times of trial and difficulty? 1 Peter 5:7
The encouragement to “pray without ceasing” does not mean that we need to spend all day on our knees. The life of Enoch helps us to recognize this fact—the Bible refers to it as “walking” with God. In other words, we can send up prayers to God as we go throughout our day, constantly keeping Him close to our hearts and minds. Whether we face joy, excitement, a crisis, or a challenging situation, we can reach out to Him. The experience of Nehemiah provides an excellent example of this kind of prayer when he sent a plea of help to God while standing before King Artaxerxes. He didn’t have time to go somewhere secluded and pray aloud, but he turned to God in his heart. As we do the same, prayer becomes a part of our lifestyle.
1. In what way can we make prayer a priority? Psalm 5:3; Matthew 6:33
Seeking God first thing in the morning enables us to order our priorities around Him.
2. What times of day did both David and Daniel habitually seek God in prayer? Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10
Both David and Daniel had a custom of praying three times a day—morning, noon, and night. Setting aside times of prayer, even if they are brief, will help us to maintain our connection with God throughout the day.
3. Where is an ideal place for spending time in prayer? Matthew 6:5, 6; see also Mark 1:35
Spending time in quietness and solitude helps remove the distractions that can prevent quality communication with God. This time spent with God in the mornings, following the example of Jesus, will serve as our anchor and our starting point for “praying without ceasing” throughout the day.
4. With what kind of attitude should we seek God? Jeremiah 29:13; Mark 11:24
Earthly relationships usually do not flourish with halfhearted, strained efforts. The same applies to our relationship with God. He longs to have us seek Him with our whole hearts, believing that we will find Him and the satisfying experience He wants to bestow upon us.
5. What are some principles for the content of prayer found in the example that Jesus gave to His disciples? Matthew 6:9–13
Verse 11 (compare with Matthew 4:4):
Jesus didn’t prescribe a ritual prayer to be repeated daily. Instead, He gave principles upon which a heartfelt prayer can be built. This prayer can include praising God for His holy character and works, praying for His will to be done in our lives and the lives of others, asking for physical and spiritual needs, confessing sins, seeking strength to resist temptation, and pouring out gratitude for all His blessings.
1. What is the advice of the psalmist in Psalm 46:10?
2. How do we hear God speaking back to us? Psalm 119:97, 99
Prayer can often become a rushed activity, focused on reciting one’s list of needs and requests. However, in seeking to deepen our relationship with God, we must take the time to hear what He has to say in return. This is why the Bible admonishes us to pause and meditate on the Word of God, for it is the way in which God can speak back to us. We can actually incorporate Scripture passages into our prayers by talking with God about the things that we are reading. Thus, our communication with Him goes from being a one-sided monologue to a reciprocal conversation.
Have you recognized a need for a deeper experience with God? Do you long to have open communication with Him in a way that you can share your heart with Him and sense Him speaking to your heart? Today is an opportunity to start afresh. Will you commit to opening your heart to God through prayer and meditation on His Word each day?
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