As I go about my daily tasks do I remember that God is right there with me and in me? Or do I do my daily tasks and leave God to help me with the big problems? Am I more secular than Christian? I do not want that to be me. I want a close intimate relationship with my God, and he desires it too. So how do I work on improving that relationship? What tools can I use?
The first step is to daily read the Bible. Think of reading the Bible as God talking to you in the context of him sharing timeless truths about himself from years ago. The entire Bible points to Jesus, so look for him. Remember the Bible is a library of “books” so one does not have to read straight through. Start with one of the four Gospels. Learn of Jesus. (If you are inexperienced in Bible reading, then get a study Bible with comments. It helped me.) And take time to stop and ponder what God is trying to tell you in the scripture passage.
Along with reading the Bible take time to pray. Prayer is simply talking to God. Praise him for being a great and wonderful God. Thank him for the little and big things in your life. And share with him the things that are on your heart. Since God is always with you, he is always there to listen to you. You can talk to him anytime and all the time. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing”. God wants our continual prayers. He wants that intimate relationship.
Way back in the 1600’s, Nicholas Herman became a monk. He became known as Brother Lawrence and he worked in the kitchen at the monastery. So why do we know of him? Because he strove to walk in the presence of God in all his tasks, big and small. In order to do that he nurtured the practice of being in a continual conversation with God. Word got around what he was doing and many letters were written. After he died, 15 of his letters and 4 conversations were compiled into a small book, called “The Practice of the Presence of God”.
This is something I am trying to work on. I am taking small steps toward a continual conversation with God and to recognize that God is always with me. That awareness that God is always with me is a good feeling. When a person pops into my mind, I try to say a short prayer for them, right then and there. Also in the small daily things that happen in my life, I thank God for them. Why, because God is here to hear me and to help me build that intimate relationship.
There is an ancient short prayer, called the Jesus Prayer, that people use to nurture that connection with God. The prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. People for centuries have said this prayer over and over again during the day. It is a good prayer to remind us who we are. I have two short prayers that I say many times during the day. One is “Thank you Jesus”, which may be thanking him for something that just happened, or it may be thanking him for dying on the cross to save me. My other short prayer is “I am yours”, in which I acknowledge God is my master and I am his. It is a happy surrender.
Another way that I have seeked to grow closer to God was, when I was still working I would right after my devotion time hop in the car and head to work. I would first spend time praying, imagining Jesus was right in front of me on the hood of my car. (Imagining Jesus sitting next to me took my eyes off the road too much.) I would talk to him and share my concerns on the way to work. I would then pop in a Christian tape (it was an old car) and sing praises to God the rest of the way to work. The point I want to make is you can transform some of these mundane activities, like driving to work, to ways that connect you with God.
Sometimes it is good to set an “reminder”. I have a 1:00 PM appointment every Monday to pray for my local church. My cell phone reminds me every Monday to pray for Immanuel. That way when my cell phone “beeps” at me at 1:00 PM on Monday, I know it is time to stop what I am doing and to take a minute to pray for my church.
Why do this? I believe it builds good habits, it strengthens that God relationship, and it is one way to rewire your brain to be more focused on God. One needs to be intentional and it does take discipline. I have failed many times in my attempts. But I have learned to not think of the failure as a test that you have failed, but rather remind yourself that you are in training while God is doing that brain rewiring. Your failing is motivation to improve and do better next time. Remember God is at work, changing you to be more like him.
PS This post was inspired by chapter 5 in Ken Boa’s book, “Life in the Presence of God”.