How we become close to God is very individual, but there are a number of key principles, that when we understand and apply them, will make this experience more rewarding and will help this intimacy grow as you intentionally spend time with God. Please note that:-
When you pray, desire for intimacy with God and to know Him. It is critical that you really desire this closeness with God. This relationship is a two-way relationship with Him where you hear His voice and receive His love. As you spend the best part of your day with Him, your desire for Him will grow. Just start.
As with all relationships, keep reminding yourself that this is a two-way relationship. Be prepared to both talk and to listen. When He speaks, obey what He says. The relationship is not just reading out prayers but can involve prayers that are readout. God wants your relationship with Him to be your most intimate friendship. Share your heart with God and let Him share His.
Set a time that is regular - if you just fit in time when you can, you are saying to God he is not as important in your life as everything else. Put Him first. Set aside precious time to be alone with God.
Your salvation is not at stake and you are not doing this to manipulate God. Desiring to be with God and growing in your relationship with Him does come with blessings, but this cannot be your main reason to spend time with Him. Just meet with God because you desire to.
Time with God is a priority when you make sacrifices to spend time with Him. Turn off the TV, miss a meal, get up 30 minutes earlier so you can spend time with Him; these are all things that show God that He is a priority to you.
Four Important Stages When Spending Time With God
Robert Morris, the senior pastor of Gateway Church, outlined four stages that he goes through when he spends time with God. I have written down his ideas and added some of mine that I pray encourages you in your journey in growing closer to God.
Stage 1: Quieten My Mind
The most important thing about time with God is that it cannot be rushed. We MUST slow our mind and our heart to be able to hear God. Sit in a place you cannot be distracted, cut off anything that will disturb you and practice stopping every voice in your head.
Stage 2: Focus my mind.
A very powerful way of doing this is to have a time of worship. Ask God to give you a song when you wake up in the morning and sing or play this as you come into this time with God. Focus on who God is and take time to worship the one who created you, redeemed you and calls you His child. What can you thank Him for during this time?
5 Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities. Romans 8:5
As you enter into time with God, you are moving from thinking about the "flesh" to moving into a time where your spirit can connect with God. The flesh often finds this very hard. It is a process of dying to the flesh so you can move into deep intimacy with God. There is a purposeful transition into a place where the spiritual realities become most important.
Stage 3: Pray what is on my mind
It is very important that we understand the difference between intercession and sharing our heart to God. Often we come to God with large lists and just go through them. This is not the time to do this. Make another time to pray the intercessory prayer.
This time is about time with God where you catch up with what is on your heart and share your inner thoughts. This is a relational conversation with God. It can involve talking about other people but this is personal time. A big part of this time is to hand over to God the things that are on your mind and allow God to speak with you.
Before you start, remember that God is a holy God, so we need to spend time examining our lives to see if we have any sin that has not been dealt with. Any sin in our lives can stop God being able to act on our behalf. For the eyes of the Lord Yahweh rest upon the godly, and his heart responds to their prayers. But he turns his back on those who practice evil. 1 Peter 3;12 TPT.
To help you understand how this works, remember that God calls us sheep, and Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Have you ever heard of a sheep that has a pack on it to carry loads for its owner? I did some research and could not find one example. Sheep are not designed to carry loads. Humans are not designed to carry heavy burdens as well. God is calling us to spend this time giving Him our burdens and leaving them at His feet. Do NOT take them back. Trust Him with them!
6 Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, 7 then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:6-7
When a father is finding ways to establish or build a relationship with his son, he may do a task together such as restore a car. My father bought a run-down farm and we cleared it and worked together both establishing order and growing closer together. God has given us the task of restoring the earth under His rule, and He has called us to work with Him to do this. This is the context for growing our relationship with Him. We are restoring the earth, together, so it works as He has made it to!
As you have a conversation daily with God, do not only speak about the things that concern you but ask Him what is on His heart. As you learn to trust God as His child you can relax and grow to know He will work on your behalf. 1 John 5:15 says, "And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we also know that we have obtained the requests we ask of him." Then relax and praise Him and watch him act. (It may take strategic prayer to deal with strongholds BUT God will show you the strategy when you ask).
Finally, God not only knows what you will say, but He may also even be answering your prayer BEFORE you pray. In 2 Chronicles 20 when they started worshipping God, He defeated their enemies.
“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24 NKJV
Stage 4: Renew my mind.
This is a time is where you do not just read scripture, but allow God to reveal more of who He is to you and how He is calling you to live. In this time we find that God reveals what the agenda and opinions of the world are and what God’s mind is on these matters. He desires to transform how we think so we can act as "Kingdom Of God" people who live as God's children, saying, doing and loving just as God does. We become aware of Satan's strategies and are equipped to live in the world based on what God says. He downloads His strategies and plans so we can live a life that is victorious in Him.
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
As we focus on God and through this change how we think, our life will be transformed.
8 So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honourable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.
Finally, remember that what you see is not as real as what God says. You CAN trust Him, even when you do not understand what HE is doing as He is always working on your behalf. In faith, trust God that He will do things in His time and His way. His heart is to bless those who are faithful. As we abide in Him we will reveal His glory as His children and will bear fruit which is evidence of our relationship with Him.
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:7-8
Five Prayer Models
Below are five different models you can use to help you pray. I pray they are useful for you. Do not forget, this is a relationship with God your Father and with Jesus NOT a formula!
A - Adore and praise God for who He is and the characteristics He has.
C - Confess any sins you may have.
T - Thanksgiving for what He has done or is doing.
S - Supplication. Talk to God about others and burdens you would like God to intervene on.
H - Honour God with praise.
E - Examine your life and confess sins.
A - Ask God for help with the things you have confessed.
R - Request help for others.
T - Thank God for the things He has done AND the things He is doing.
P -Praise and worship God
A - Acknowledge the good He does in your life. Confess things that need confessing.
S - Supplication means presenting requests for others.
T - Thanksgiving to God for who He is and what He has done.
FOUR: FINGER PRAYERS
To Begin: Praise God, clean your heart, thank HIm and intercede for others and petition requests for yourself using the 5 fingers to guide your prayers.
Thumb: Friends and family.
Index: People you come into regular contact with.
Middle: Leaders, government, local and world issues.
Ring: Sick, weak, poor and people in need.
Pinky - Yourself.
FIVE: THE LORDS PRAYER
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name - We are praying to our heavenly father. This is an intimate time with God. He is holy and worthy of our praise. Remind ourselves of the character of the Father.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven - We say that we desire what God wants. We want His Kingdom to be established on earth.
Give us today our daily bread - We remind ourselves that we are dependent each day on God's provision. We have needs and when God provides we can share with others.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us - we admit here that we sin and need the Father's forgiveness. We also must forgive those who have sinned against us. That is essential if God is to forgive us.
Lead us not into temptation - we look at our relationship with the world around us and position ourselves to serve Jesus in the world. We need strength and guidance to avoid sinful behaviour and distractions.
Deliver us from evil - We need our Father's protection each day.
May God bless you as you pursue intimacy with Him and learn to live life to the full! Allow this relationship to transform you and release you to live in the destiny God has made you for.