I often hear people say, “I long for deeper intimacy with God” or “I feel so far away from God.” So how do we draw near to God, as we are encouraged to do by James, the brother of Jesus? “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a). It is not a physical moving from one place to another, but rather a deepening of relationship with God. The second part of this verse gives us a clue: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded.” (James 4:8b). We should first ask God if there is anything getting in the way of focussing on Him or drawing near to Him, like being double-minded (or inconsistent) and bringing things in our hearts before Him which need to be purified. Psalm 139:23,24 is helpful to pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me…”
Drawing near to God requires that we desire to be close to God in the first place and that we turn away from everything else. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” And how should be “seek after God?” Wholeheartedly, sincerely and confidently! Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” And Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” When we are closer to God, we can see Him and hear Him better.
Here are some practical ways to draw near to God:
Start and finish each day by reaching out to God; “Good morning, Holy Spirit” by Benny Hinn is a book that really encouraged me to do just that first thing on waking!
Position yourself to spend quality time with God: whether in your bedroom or on your daily commute, through worship, prayer, bible study or journaling. Really “chew” on a bible passage to see what the Holy Spirit highlights. This is a relational time with God, to speak and listen. Worship music can often draw us in if we’re feeling distant.
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise…” Being thankful and “counting our blessings” can draw us near to God.
Sharing testimony: not only is God glorified, but we are reminded of what God has done each time we tell our story and those hearing it are encouraged or inspired.
Love on God: I know, it’s a bit of an Americanism, but expressing and showing your love to your Abba Father is key to greater intimacy with Him. How do you let those you love know that you love them? Do the same for God.
Throughout the day: God is always with us, so talk to him and involve him in decisions and challenges; live in awe and wonder of God’s creation
Come in humility and brokenness: just as the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son ran to him when he saw him coming, so our loving Father comes quickly to us, no matter how feebly we turn towards Him
Gathering together: Jesus promises to be with us when we gather in His name (Matthew 18:20). There is something special about praying and worshipping as a body of believers - we sense God’s presence as we practise the gifts of the Holy Spirit and hear what He is saying to us
Meditate on the words of this song, Oceans, by Hillsong United, and ask God to draw you deeper.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour.”