The question must be answered, “Do you really want to experience intimacy with God through prayer or is it simply a wish, a nice thought in theory?
I have tried to make clear in various teachings that it isn’t by your own self-discipline that intimacy through prayer grows. However, grace doesn’t mean that we are inactive in matters of spiritual progress either.
To the contrary, grace empowers us to act from out of the indwelling sufficiency of Jesus Christ, to do the things He calls us to do. While grace isn’t self-discipline, it does produce the outworking of a Spirit-controlled life.
There is a depth to be known in prayer that I didn’t know existed for many years.
There is an intimacy with God to be enjoyed that affects our prayer life in such a way that is nothing less than transformational.
I found this intimacy through the wonderful gift of meditation, in which God so effectively facilitates a tender union.
The following are a few of the basics for beginners who desire deeper intimacy with the father through prayerful meditation. They aren’t hard and fast guidelines, but are personal observations about meditation, based on my experiences. You may find these to be helpful spiritual food, but if anything is hard to swallow I can only suggest advice from an old adage: Eat the fish and spit out the bones.
1. Commit yourself to a definite time and place to prayerfully meditate.
This suggestion isn’t intended to be taken as a legalistic mandate. It assumes that you want to advance in this area and are willing to resist superficial urges to be lazy about your pursuit to “go deeper” with God. The Apostle Paul acknowledged that, even under grace, there is an appropriate need to “discipline [our] body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27). I have found that determining a definite time and place helps motivate both my mind and heart toward meeting God in meditation.
2. It may be necessary to redefine our understanding of “prayer.”
For many years, my prayer life was an activity that occurred primarily in my intellect. Prayer consisted of words formed in my mind and presented to God either vocally or mentally. Words are a fruit of our minds. Jesus said that true worship exists “in spirit and in truth.” We pray from our spirit when we speak to God.
We may seek to conceal our true selves by hiding behind many words. Words are certainly okay when the Spirit moves you to words, but they aren’t always necessary. In the midst of silence God may show you some things about yourself that have been hidden. Things which He wants to surface in order to deal with them, thus bringing you greater spiritual health and overall well being.
Apart from words, God’s Spirit may touch deep places in your emotions or may give new direction and resolve to your will.
Our mind may not know our deepest needs, but the Holy Spirit knows. “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out” (Proverbs 20:5).
God has infinite capacity to draw up from the depth of our hearts the issues which need His healing touch. As His love washes over us during meditation, “deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7) and we find ourselves being miraculously refreshed in dry places that we didn’t even know were there.
A final reason why we may need to redefine the meaning of prayer is that when we believe we have prayed because we have said the necessary words for the appropriate amount of time, we might gain a false sense of well being.
Just because one may “say prayers” doesn’t mean he prayed.
Jesus described two men who went to the temple to pray one day
Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like the other people: swindlers,unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.”
But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”
I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:10-14).
Legitimate prayer isn’t defined by words, but by what is happening in the heart.
3. Allow the Spirit within you to set the pace for your time of prayerful meditation.
An intrinsic desire of the flesh is to want a formula for spirituality. “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it” is the cry of religious self-sufficiency. Authentic spiritual growth doesn’t happen that way. Just as each of the children in our family need particular types of direction and instruction at particular times, so it is with God’s children.
He has an individualized plan for you.
Any loving relationship is characterized by specific moments of loving interaction. If you want to experience the intimacy that your heavenly Father has for you, know that His heart longs for you even more.
His heart’s desire toward to you burns with a single desire: “Allow Me to guide you to a deeper level of intimacy with Me. I will hold you continuously. I will fulfill the deepest desires of your soul, because I have placed them there. Come to me just as you are and know” — know without any doubt, that you will be accepted. You will be loved and nurtured.