How to get closer to God
Learn how to be close to God.
The Bible says: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you”. – James 4:8a
Of course, God IS near all those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour. After all, He lives IN us by His Spirit. But often Christians do not FEEL close to God.
Although I had for many years experienced the nearness of God, the continual awareness of His Presence was greatly increased in my life after reading and practising the exhortations of a very famous little book called: “The Practice of the Presence of God”. It was compiled from conversations and letters from a Carmelite monk known as Brother Lawrence, who was converted at the age of eighteen and became a monk in 1666 in Paris.
The major thought and theme of the book is that God should be upper-most in our thoughts continually. This is what I always wanted, but it seemed out of reach because of all the distractions of daily life. However, after consciously practising over some months, I found it very much easier and certainly blessed and happier, to live and walk in His Presence to a far greater degree than ever before.
I am sharing here some of the thoughts from the book, and also some things I have learnt along the way.
The first requirement is that we should totally surrender our lives to God’s purposes and that our greatest desire should be to love, honour and please Him in everything we do, think and say. This will result in our relationships with others coming under the covering of God’s love, honouring and relating well to them in every way possible.
Of course, because we are subject to human nature, we are likely to fail many times. We should not be unsettled or discouraged by this, but simply ask forgiveness where necessary, trust in the righteousness of Christ, and return to our practice of love, trust and obedience to God.
When we are faithful to keep ourselves in His Holy Presence, this not only stops us from offending Him or doing anything to displease Him, at least wilfully, but it also gives us a holy freedom and the Presence of God becomes our natural environment.
‘I abandon myself to God that He may do what He pleases with me. The King, full of mercy and goodness, far from chastising me, embraces me with love and gives me the key to His treasures. He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favourite’.
‘Most of our troubles of mind come from lack of faith. If we develop strong faith and trust in Him, we may live in perfect liberty and continual joy’.
‘In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him, we must first apply some diligence. But after a while we will find that His Love will inwardly excite us to continual communion without any difficulty’.
‘Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God’.
‘The trust we put in God honours Him much and draws down great grace’.
‘We begin our Christian life by doing our duty and by denying ourselves, but after that, unspeakable pleasures follow’.
‘We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed’.
We should be thankful in all things continually and make it a practice in every spare moment to be singing melodies in our hearts to the Lord. As this becomes our common practice, we will find that songs of praise may be going through our hearts even while we are working, sleeping, talking to someone etc.
Since the song is in your heart, or perhaps I should say your sub-conscious mind, it won’t interrupt your thoughts or conversation. If this seems too difficult, at least practice singing silently in your mind, as you go about your daily life.
We should exercise faith in God always in every little thing, as this is very pleasing to Him. For instance, instead of begging and pleading in prayer, we express our faith by relaxing in His Presence and thanking Him for His faithfulness and love. Tell Him how blessed you are to be His child and ask for the thing you need – as a little child asking a Loving Father, thanking Him because He knows your need and you know He will take care of it.
We can discuss things with Him as we go about our daily business, but we also need longer periods of quiet time in His Presence, where we can listen to what He is saying deep in our spirit.
If something arises that causes fear (eg. some accident, or disaster), we simply rest in Him, knowing that He has everything under control. If we live, someone will get us to hospital. If we die – we will be with Him. What is there to lose? Even our loved ones we can trust to Him. If we are totally surrendered to Him, then we know that He will make a way. He will take care of all those who put their trust in Him.
If we go through pain or suffering of any kind, we can know that He is in control and can intervene at any moment. If He does not intervene, then we declare our trust in Him and wait patiently for Him to act. When we are sick, we should pray for healing and claim it as our God-given right. If healing does not come straight away, we simply claim it in our hearts, ask for prayer when we can, and thank God in advance for the healing we anticipate.
If we suffer trials, we should take authority in Jesus’ Name over any part of it that is an enemy attack and bind the power of every evil thing seeking to unsettle us. Then we patiently endure, continually praising God for His faithfulness and declaring our trust in Him.
Having the peace of God ruling in our hearts should always be our guideline. If our peace is disturbed, we should find out why and put it right. Normally circumstances should not unsettle us if we are totally surrendered to God. If we are unsettled, it will usually be because we have made a bad decision or have neglected to ask God for guidance.
If a challenge arises that seems overwhelming or too difficult for us, we simply go to our Heavenly Father, put the problem to Him, and wait for His direction. We should freely admit that since we are children of the Kingdom, we do not expect to have all the answers. His answer may not come at once, but it will come, provided that we keep our eyes on Him and don’t ‘stew’ about the problem.
When we are seeking God on a particular line, we should realise that we may enter into earnest prayer on many occasions without ‘hearing’ anything or feeling any different. This is of no consequence and does not mean that God is ignoring you. He certainly has heard your prayer and will answer in due course, but sometimes He delays His answers so that we will keep coming back to Him in prayer. He delights in our prayers and our fellowship and perhaps we would not seek Him so earnestly over a period of time, if He answered as quickly as we would like.
Sometimes we will not seem to receive anything while we are praying, but afterward we become aware that circumstances are changing, or that something within us is changing. The particular answer we are seeking may be withheld for some time, but God will give us little encouragements along the way to keep us seeking. Perhaps an encouraging word will come through The Bible, or from a friend, or maybe God will provide answers in other things we are praying about, just to encourage us.
Our desire should be to be our best for Him since He gave His ALL for us. He deserves our best. That should at least mean that we will go out of our way to be kind and caring to the people around us. It should mean that if we become aware of faults or sinful habits in our lives, we will do our utmost to overcome those things with His help. It should mean that we will make all major life decisions based on what is best for the Kingdom of God. It will certainly mean that we will continue in the Word and in prayer and in Christian discipleship.