“Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God . . . We must know the awe of praising His glory, the intimacy of finding His grace and the struggle of asking His help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of His presence.” –Tim Keller
When I was getting to know my husband, I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. I loved having conversations with him about so many different things! Sometimes when we were together, it was enough just to sit, walk or drive somewhere without saying a word.
Amazingly, this is exactly how God feels about us and wants us to feel even more so about Him. Prayer is the key to awakening and strengthening such a deep relationship and desire for the Father.
Here are some simple ways to practice intimacy in prayer as both a conversation and an encounter with God:
Scripture – as you read your Bible, ask God to show Himself to you. Spend some time writing down what God teaches you about Himself as you read/study His word. Know that the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) wants to have relationship with you also! Make God’s word your personal “tent of meeting” (Exodus 33:7) with Him!
Creation – spend time looking around you and paying attention to all that God has created. Pay attention to small things like flowers and birds as well as extraordinary things like mountains, oceans, stars, rainbows and babies! Creation gives us confidence that God is who He says He is. Give Him thanks and praise His glory!
Worship – when you truly worship God, sometimes you can forget why you came to Him. You are able to lay down your list of needs and wants and just enjoy being in His presence. Simple times of sharing with Him how wonderful and amazing He is will allow your heart to grow closer to His. Find worship music that honors and glorifies the Father and join in!
Listening – most of us want to talk to or at God. Take time to say, as young Samuel did, “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9)! Write down anything you think you hear. Maybe it will be as simple as “I love you.” Other times it may be something He wants you to do, or something He wants to share with you about Himself. If you aren’t sure if He is speaking to your heart, show a trusted, mature believer what you have written to get confirmation. If it agrees with Scripture and if it is something that is like the character of Jesus, likely you have heard something from the Father.
Silence – there are times when just simply sitting quietly in His presence with no expectations other than just enjoying being with Him can be the most intimate way of developing your relationship with God. No agenda, no wants or needs expressed . . . just being alone with no distractions. Sometimes you can use some quiet worship music. But getting used to sitting with God in silence just as you would with another person you love dearly is a great practice. It’s okay to just be.
Asking – there are times when we have needs–our own, or those of others–that we want to express to God. It’s like saying, “Please, Daddy, I need your help.” In these times, there is no need for flowery language. Just talk to Him as a child sitting in a Father’s lap.
God is continually present in each moment of your life. He has come to live within you always (John 14:23)! Cultivate nearness and affection for Him in prayer. When you draw near to God, He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
–Kim Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the author of The Praying Family, plus the co-author with her husband, Dave, of Vertical with Jesus and Revolution on Our Knees.