Deliberately 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 our Lord, 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 ‘believe’, then have a look at the article, “Can I really believe in God?”.
This particular article is mainly directed towards people who have already come to hold some level of Christian faith, and belief in God. As our relationship with God develops, and gets more intimate, it becomes easier to move into advanced prayer. I will say that the sooner this happens, the better, because ever stronger ‘belief and faith‘ is an outcome.
Indeed, it positively affects our complete faith journey, and our lives.
2. THE POSITIVE BENEFITS
And the deeper our relationship with him grows, the more purposeful and contented our lives become. Yes, that might look just a ‘bit crazy’ to a beginner Christian. But, the importance of this relationship-building stuff became all the more obvious to me, as I trialled 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, “A relationship with God“, “Building sound faith” and “What does faith offer us?” 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 that 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 based on self interest. Essentially, being a Christian is never ‘just about me’.
And praying out of concern for others, for example, makes sure that our minds are outward looking and not too self-interested. Indeed, praying for those less fortunate than ourselves is one ‘sure-fired’ way to place our own problems in perspective. And, you know, I really mean that!
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 ask those people, who you are ready to pray for, whether they would mind if you did so. Then let them know that you have prayed 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 their faith. Trust me when I say that God wants that for everyone of us. He will be grateful to us for assisting him in that regard.
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 shows his love for us through his gifts in our lives, God definitely wants 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 in return.
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 unlimited future.
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 then proves to us in no uncertain terms just how ‘at risk’ we are to misfortune, pain and suffering – both physically and emotionally!
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 ‘minefields’ that await 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 (‘his guidance‘, ‘his help to us‘, ‘our prayers of request‘), so as to allow chances 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‘ in the Church can also be recognised, once we know how. 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. But, as also explained in this website, he is certainly recognisable in pretty well any church we attend. That is, in a more ‘subtle but still recognisable sense‘.
Yes, 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
Personally, I begin my devotions by just emptying my mind of all self-centred thoughts and relax into his presence.
And you know, at my stage of faith journey, I find that just enjoying God’s company for a while like that, during most days, inevitably provides 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 for 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.
It is certainly appropriate to spend time, during these sessions of mature prayer, to ‘worship’ our Lord; his awesome presence. Yes, and acknowledging all that we have learnt of his love, wisdom, massive power, positive impact on each of us and indeed all humankind: past and present! Now in turn, from my experience, this builds up our faith and its outcomes in our lives. Yes, recognising his awesome presence and abilities leads us to ever greater faith. And greater faith in turn leads to ever increasing contentment and purpose in our lives.
And bear in mind 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. Personally I rarely pray for specific results, in these circumstances, but rather I hand the issues over to him in complete faith and trust. Also please read the article, “God during hard times” if you are in a position like that.
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 do need to work on it.
Our other interactions with him, through engaging with him in life and the church, encourages our commitment to ‘keep at it’.
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 close 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 that seems to work best for us in life. 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 we can ‘gradually’ deepen our sense of trust in the Lord. Firstly, this can make his presence become virtually concrete within our everyday lives and within prayer. Secondly, God’s obvious caring presence, that ‘shines out’ through 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. 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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