“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
James 4:8 is my life motto. God promises if I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me. What excites me most is that He repeats the invitation over and over!
First God invites me: “Draw near to Me, Doug.” When I draw near, God draws near just as He said He would. And then He repeats the invitation so that I can draw still nearer. When I do, He draws still nearer, and repeats the invitation again – nearer and nearer until I am in the fullness of His loving embrace.
The crucial question, of course, is. “How do we do our part?” God clearly knows how to draw near to us, but how do we draw near to Him?
First, we must want to draw near. Most professing Christians in our nation do not appear to have this as a priority in their lives. Either they have not been taught this is an achievable goal, or they are afraid of the changes (and loss of control) that could result if they leave “religion” and enter into an intimate relationship with the Lord.
To all of us, God says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Second, we must recognize increasing intimacy with God is a lifelong process. It is the progressive answer to what Jesus prayed: that we would become one with Him just like He is one with the Father. (John 17:20-23)
Scripture gives us guidance on steps we can take throughout our life to draw nearer. Just as two examples, study the progression of the Beatitudes taught by Jesus. (Matthew 5:1-12) Then study the steps to maturity of faith and fruitfulness described by the apostle Peter in his last letter. (2 Peter 1:1-11)
Third, we can on a daily basis seek to draw nearer to God in prayer. My primary goal in this article is to offer an eight-step process for your prayer times that can help you draw near to God.
Step #1 is “Remembrance & Thanksgiving”. As we remember all the Lord has already done for us, our hearts are filled with gratitude. We enter His gates with thanksgiving. (Psalm 100:4)
Step #2 is “Praise & Honor”. Our remembrance of all the wonderful things God has done will point us toward His immeasurable love, goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, power and majesty. God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is so worthy of our praise and honor. Through that praise, we enter His courts.
Step #3 is “Reverence & Humility”. As we praise God, our increased awareness of His holiness and vastness will trigger an awe and reverence for Him. This is the “fear of the Lord” as experienced by those who know God loves them unconditionally. It was a crucial ingredient in the early Church that is tragically missing in much of the Church today. (Acts 2:43, 9:31)
The companion to reverence is humility – our awareness before God of how small, imperfect and dependent upon Him we are. Only the humble can draw near to God. (Luke 18:11-14)
Step #4 is “Repentance & Forgiveness”. As we humble ourselves before the Lord, our awareness of our continuing shortcomings leads to a desire to be forgiven and a desire to change. This is not a time of condemnation because it happens in the atmosphere of God’s amazing grace. We are forgiven, and while we remain a work in progress, we know we are God’s work in progress.
We are also God’s children. Step #5, “Childlikeness & Intimacy”, is where we truly draw near.
My friends, the key to abiding intimacy with God is “childlikeness”. Maturity in the eyes of the world is less dependence on your parents, and the development within yourself of more of what you need to succeed. But maturity as a child of God means ever increasing adoration of, trust in and dependence on our heavenly Father and our eldest brother, Jesus, the Savior King.
Childlikeness brings not only trust and dependence, but delight in life, expectation, and eagerness to learn and do. The Kingdom of God belongs to the childlike. (Matthew 19:14) The things of the Kingdom are revealed to the childlike. (Luke 10:21) Those who humble themselves with childlikeness will be called greatest in the Kingdom. (Matthew 18:2-4)
When God’s children come with childlike hearts to spend time with their Father, the Father rushes to embrace and bless them. (Luke 15:20)
Step #6 is “Experiencing & Receiving”. You will wonderfully know God’s presence. What you receive will vary in every prayer time depending upon what God knows you need – comfort, assurance, direction, revelation, healing or other blessing.
Step #7 is “Responding & Releasing”: doing what the Lord directs us to do with what we have received. This will often lead to a time of intercessory prayer or other acts of ministry to others.
Step #8 returns us to where we began: “Thanksgiving & Honor” to the One from whom all good things come.
Each step in this prayer pattern prepares us for the next, so I urge you to take your time and not skip steps.
I would love to hear back from some of you after you practice these eight steps toward our Father. They have never failed to draw me near to Him, and there is no place I would rather be.
God bless you, and God bless our community.