Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your most private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.”
Throughout the Scriptures, the Lord conveys His desire to spend time with us. In Psalm 27:8, He says, “Seek My face - inquire for and require My presence as your vital need,” and in Isaiah 55:3, He invites, “Incline your ear and come to Me; hear, and your soul will revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercy (kindness, goodwill, and compassion) promised to David.”
In Zephaniah 3:17, He says, “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior Who saves! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in silent satisfaction and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing.” The Almighty God of the universe sings over you!
Jesus demonstrates His desire for relationship further in Revelations 3:20, when He
says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he will eat with Me.” Sharing a meal is a timeless and well-known way of sharing, relaxing and enjoying a loved one’s companionship.
I remembered how radically it affected me when I first realized the depth of the Lord’s love for me and His desire for relationship and interaction with me. It made me love Him even more. It made me want to be aware of Him throughout every day, and it also empowered me to approach Him with confidence about my own issues in life. I began to look forward to getting up every morning just to enter His Presence and start my day with Him. The more I learned about His love, healing, deliverance, protection and provision and blessing in my life, the more I believed it, and the more I believed, the more I expected, and as I expected, I saw His Hand in my life, taking care of me like a good and loving Father would.
So for starters, think of a time when you loved someone with all your heart. It could be now or from your past. It could be a spouse, sibling, your child, or a good and close friend. Think of how you felt whenever you were separated from that person, for any reason, and especially for a long time. Do you remember how much you missed them, thought of them, longed to see them and embrace them again? Think of that intense love and longing, and all the deep emotions that go along with it.
THAT, my friends, is how God feels about YOU - magnified many times over! He doesn’t care about your imperfections, mistakes or what you look like. He’s not sitting up in heaven counting your sins with one hand and holding a baseball bat in the other. He already knows you completely, He understands you, and He loves you. His desire is to draw you close to His heart and to make you whole. THAT is a huge part of the Good News.
In my upbringing, our prayers were mostly from prayer books or religion books or they were “hopeful” prayers, as in I really hope God helps me with this but I’m not sure He will. They were often “drive-by” prayers, where I would say my greeting, list my requests and say good-night; I had no idea that God wanted to spend time with me. Then God began to show me His heart in His Word. I found Scriptures I had never heard of before and, as I searched more intently, it was like a light bulb went on in my head for the first time! I became fascinated! This was new to me. I learned that not only did He love me, but He liked me! He paid attention to me! He made plans for me! He watched over me and took care of me! I didn’t know God felt that way about ME. The first time I began learning all this, it was as though my heart and mind were in a swoon. And yet He feels this way about me and about you. All of you.
Spending time with the Lord is about relationship, not ritual. Just like you might go to meet up with a loved one and spend time together, God wants to do that with you. Every day, He wants to meet with you and talk with you. He wants you to learn to hear His voice (that’ll be another blog). He wants to enjoy time with you, and have you know Him. He wants to share His heart with you. The Lord looks forward to His time with you. He’s always there, ready and waiting to give you His full attention, to be there for you, and to help you with every need.
When we were born again, we entered into a relationship with Almighty God where He is not only the God we serve but the Heavenly Father we love, Who loves us. We have freedom before Him, and unrestricted access to His throne. We don't have to be afraid of Him. As His beloved children, we have the right to climb up into His lap and have His full attention.
You can be confident that your Father loves you constantly with an unchanging love (Romans 8:39). God declares that in His love, He wants to be involved in every area of your life. There is nothing you do that God does not care about.
If you will search throughout the Scriptures, you will see for yourself how the Lord feels about you, how much He wants to spend time with you, and how He thinks of you with love.
My Time with God
I’ll share with you a little about my prayer time. In this post, I am not talking about Bible study – I handle that a little differently and will discuss it in a separate blog. Here I am talking about just spending time with the Lord and simple prayer.
I really try to set a quiet time somewhere, away from family and without distractions like TV or radio (turn them off!) or people chatter (my family understands this is my much needed alone time with the Lord). This is so I can focus my attention on the Lord and I can also learn to be sensitive to His voice in my spirit. I simply treat the Lord and talk to Him as though He were physically there like any member of my family – because He is
there in Spirit, if not in body!
While I still like to use some prayer books for inspiration at times, I mostly talk to the Lord in a conversational tone, incorporating Scripture as the basis for my prayers. I also focus on setting aside time with God that both HE and I can enjoy just being together. Sometimes I kneel on the floor to pray. Sometimes I sit in a comfy chair in my living room, or I sit at my kitchen table, or in my backyard. Sometimes I take walks on the road or in a park with Him. I always have my Bible with me, and a notebook and pen, and a marker/highlighter (I carry in a small tote).
So for me this would be my “devotional” time with the Lord, where I am quiet with Him, soaking up His presence, reading His Word as I feel led by Him, and listening for Him. I work at getting my attention OFF myself and my problems, and instead FOCUS on Him, enjoying Him, thinking about Him, telling Him how much I love Him and how much I appreciate all He has done for me, and all that I trust He is taking care of for me now. Sometimes I will bring my portable CD player or iPod with me to listen to some worship music and sing along. I once spent an entire 90 minute walk on my neighborhood roads just singing the song by Chris Tomlin “How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise.”
I want to also stress that I don’t just block out 1 hour a day for prayer and time with the Lord. I don’t make it a rigid ritual. While I try to block out an undisturbed private time with Him, and to meditate and study in His Word, I generally try to “pray without ceasing,” where I remain aware of Him and I talk to Him throughout my day, regardless of what I am doing. (One book that I really enjoyed reading on this type of communion with the Lord was a little book called “The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. Depending on your church denomination, you may not follow all of his doctrinal beliefs, as being a Charismatic I also did not, but it is a lovely and helpful book.)
For example, a typical day for me might go as follows; note this is not written in stone; it is not exactly the same every day. The words and situations vary every day. I just try to be conscious of Him and think of Him at every opportunity.
I get up in the morning – “Good morning, Lord. Thank You for this day. I thank You that You are with me, and I ask Your blessing and covering over this day’s activities, over me, my family, my dog, and all that You’ve given me, in Jesus’ Name. I cover everything with the Blood of Jesus. Help me to follow You and to be sensitive to Your voice and leading. Guide my steps and help me to reach out to Whoever needs a touch from You. Thank You, Lord!”
I pray over meals – “Thank You Lord for this food from Your abundance. Thank You for Your protection over it. I speak Your blessing upon it, that it will nourish our bodies and not harm us, in Jesus’ Name.”
I go for a walk somewhere – “Thank You Lord for Your protection on my walk. Thank You for coming with me. “On that walk, I might notice things to thank Him for – “Thank You Lord for that baby deer I saw. O Jesus, these flowers are beautiful! Thank You for them!” And so on.
If a problem or crisis comes up – “Lord, I put this situation in Your hands. I know You’ve got my back, and You will see me through this. You will help me and deliver me according to Your Word. Thank You.”
At work throughout the day, different situations may arise – “Lord, help me to speak clearly at this meeting, or help me to resolve this issue, or give me ideas to do this project, or help me to learn this skill, etc.”
If a family member or friend or pet needs prayer, I bring it to Him immediately. “O Lord, I lift up this person to you in the Name of Jesus.” Depending on what the need is – healing, protection, deliverance, provision, whatever – I will draw in and pray the Scriptures that relate to the situation.
I watch some news or TV program – “O Lord, how terrible about that family having that accident, (or whatever the situation)! I lift them in prayer to You Lord for Your healing! Please take care of them and all that concerns them, in Jesus’ Name!”
So in this way, I share with Him. I talk with Him. I listen for what He would say to me. I cast my cares on Him, I cast other people’s cares on Him, I share everything with Him – both good times and troubles - and I bring Him into every situation in my day. This blesses me and other people but it also blesses Him because this is the kind of close relationship He wants with us!
If you have never done this, I encourage you to try it and stay with it – give it a chance – and you will grow closer to the Lord, become more aware of His presence, and His absolute love and delight in you!