Intentionally build intimacy with God through prayer.
Stronger faith is achieved – allowing us to enjoy
greater rewards from God’s presence in our lives.
You can read the introductory article to this section of the website, “God’s presence in our lives” before going on, if you have not already. It explains the various methods, available to us, that we can use to engage with God in our lives. And how our lives can be positively transformed as a result! It also puts those available methods, and our overall relationship with God, in perspective.
(To read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
And if you doubt that God even exists, but would like to, then have a look at the article, “How to Believe in God”.
This article is primarily directed towards people who have already come to hold some level of faith, and belief in God. As our relationship with God develops, and its intimacy deepens, it becomes easier to move into more advanced prayer. I will say that the sooner this happens, the better, because ever stronger belief and faith is an outcome. Indeed, it positively impacts our complete faith journey.
2. THE POSITIVE BENEFITS
And the deeper our relationship grows with him, the more purposeful and contented our lives become. Yes, that might look just a bit crazy to a beginner Christian. But if analytical old me, can come to that conclusion, then I can assure you that anyone can! You see, the importance of this relationship-building stuff became evident to me, when I finally came to trial it within my thirty year audit of Christian faith. That is, as I actively applied it to my life for evaluation. Again, you can click here to read about the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website.
Also try reading the articles, “Sound faith” and “Real personal freedom” in this website’s primary section, “Journey of faith”. (Please see the Menu Bar above.) They explain more about building a deep relationship with the Lord.
Mature prayer itself, fundamentally includes both devotional prayer and praying for needs outside our own: other people, countries and the world as a whole.
3. PRAYING FOR OTHERS IN NEED
What I am saying here is there is nothing wrong with praying to get positive outcomes for ourselves with important issues in life. But bear in mind that prayer was never intended to be totally self oriented. Essentially, being a Christian is never ‘just about me’.
Praying out of concern for the plight of others, for example, ensures that one’s mind is outward looking and not overly self-indulgent. Such behaviour is certainly an expectation of Christianity. Praying for those less fortunate than ourselves is one ‘sure-fired’ way to place our own problems in perspective.
And there is just so much satisfaction available to us by bringing positive changes, through solid prayer sessions and God’s love for us all, to all sorts of life issues faced by other people known to us. And of course it is faith building for us as well.
Where possible, remember to let those people, who you are praying for, know what you are doing for them. This will help them realise that they have been on the receiving end of the Lord’s loving care, when positive change does occur as a result of your prayers. In turn this will encourage them to grow in faith.
4. THE NEED FOR DEVOTIONAL PRAYER
Also, and very importantly, God does want us to just plain spend one-on-one time with him. Although he regularly demonstrates his love for us through his gifts in our lives, God definitely desires a two-way ‘loving’ relationship with each of us. And the more we love him; sacrifice our time for him, then the more potential there is for him to provide even greater loving care to us.
But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
That said, the idea of devotion, adoration or worship for anything outside ourselves really is a bit foreign to many of us these days. If we believe the media hype we are offered, we are a special and lucky species; potentially in control of our own boundless destinies.
And sure there can be periods of success, fulfilment and happiness in our lives without God. But ah, life has a habit of eventually ‘biting us on the bottom’. And it proves to us in no uncertain terms just how vulnerable we are to misfortune, pain and suffering!
I remind you that it is indeed a great idea to pay homage to our God, the best one to provide support as we pass through the potential ‘minefield’ that awaits us in life.
5. WORKING OUR WAY INTO DEVOTIONAL PRAYER
So, let’s now look at how we move into devotional prayer. How do we begin?
5.1 How great thou art
The Bible, particularly the New Testament Gospels, helps by giving us insight into God’s nature: his love of us particularly evident through the person of Jesus. I am referring to what God, as the person Jesus, did for us. And of course what that means for us human beings, now in this life and for eternity.
We should also look, as practising Christians, at what he has been doing in our lives. We have only to engage with God in life so as to initiate opportunities for him to apply his loving care directly to us. You see, he rarely forces his way into our lives. We have to open ourselves to him; his love. We were born to do so!
His presence and power can also be recognised in the Church. Of course his presence is all the more obvious in churches within the “Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement“. My experiences there certainly helped me to love him all the more.
His power and ‘grace‘ should be obvious to us. And during our time with him in prayer we should gratefully acknowledge that wholeheartedly.
5.2 Working our way into it
Initially, I just empty my mind of all thoughts and relax into his presence.
I personally find that just enjoying God’s company for a while like that, during most days, inevitably provides personal revitalisation and a real sense of peace in my life. I just open myself to him; engaging with him in a literal sense. I’m just there … with him.
Then I may move on to feeling his ‘warmth’, his love towards me. Of course then I love him back too. Emotions do play a big part in these mature prayers, just as our love towards our parents is, or should be, involved in our communication with them.
And there is certainly nothing wrong with bringing problems that are troubling you, or responsibilities that you are facing etc, to the Lord during these sessions. I personally don’t pray for specific results, in these circumstances, but rather hand the issues over to him in complete faith and trust.
5.3 Commitment and trust
Yes, it normally takes time to get to that stage in the relationship, but it also relies on our level of commitment and trust in him. We cannot just conjure up the emotion of love obviously, to use in our relationship with him. So we need to work on it.
Our other interactions with him, through engaging with him in life and the church, fuels our commitment.
As I have indicated already, praying regularly like this does not necessarily ‘come easy’ to most of us. It does take discipline, time set aside etc, and we do have to continually work at it. Prayer life is no different to anything else we would like to succeed at. It is just that not much else can lead to improved contentment with, and direction in, life like a closer relationship with God. There are many articles on this website that can provide tried and tested guidance.
Remember, asking God for help in developing these habits of prayer will prove very useful.
Mature prayer certainly works ‘hand in glove’ with that kind of deep trust in God. And wow … I certainly know how that would all look to an atheist. Just as I was wrong when I was one, so they are now. Forgive me for having repeatedly pointed out my old mistaken views throughout this website.
Also, have a look at the “Trusting God day to day” and “Trusting God with your life” articles later in this section of the website. Those articles explain how to ‘gradually’ deepen our sense of trust in the Lord. Firstly, this can make his presence become virtually concrete within our everyday lives and of course within prayer. Secondly, God’s obvious caring presence, that is illuminated via our deep ongoing trust in him, really proves his love for us.
And of course, time spent in a fellowship of faith; within a church, will lead to all kinds of evidence of God’s presence there. The Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement, throughout the greater Christian Church, can for example offer powerful, what I would even title ‘tangible’, evidence of his presence there. Any church at all though, should give us the ‘means’ to note his subtle presence as a minimum, and how to learn more about his grace. We should feel his love there in church too. Actually, connecting with him there in fellowships of faith is all the easier because of the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ (our fellow church goers).
Continue to the next article, “God in the workplace”.
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