Victory in the Christian life flows from an intimate knowledge of God. If you would have asked me when I first met my wife, “Do you know a young lady named Debe “Tex” Sirman?” I would have responded, “Yes, I know her. I met her the other day.” However, what I meant when I said that I knew her then and when I say that I know her today are two entirely different things. I have an intimate knowledge of her that I didn’t have at that time. I now know her likes and dislikes, her strengths and weaknesses, and her joys and sorrows.
When we first began seeing each other, I knew that I loved her. However, the love that I have for her today is so much deeper – so much richer. Because we’ve walked together in many situations and faced many different circumstances, our love has grown immensely. The same is true with God. The more that you get to know Him, the more that you love Him. As we walk with Him in the valleys as well as on the mountain tops, our love intensifies for Him. But it takes time to get to know Him.
The Apostle Paul wrote that the deep longing of his heart was that he might “know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death” (Philippians 3:10). Paul wanted to get to know Christ on the mountain tops and in the valleys. He wanted to walk with Christ through the tough times as well as the good times because He knew that his relationship with Christ would grow only in the garden of such long term intimacy.
But on a practical level, how do we really get to know God? How do we experience His love and care? God is Spirit. Therefore, how do we have such a deep relationship with God whom we cannot see or touch? One way in which we develop that intimacy with Christ is through prayer.
Many people only see prayer as a way to get something from God. It’s certainly true that God gives abundantly to His children as a result of our requests. In fact, He’s able to give us abundantly far above anything that we could ask or even think of asking. But prayer is so much more than obtaining what we want from Him. Prayer is the communion of two hearts. It’s our communicating with God the intimate things of our lives, and His communicating with us the deep things of His heart.
Too many of us are defeated in our Christian lives because we’ve had the wrong understanding of what prayer really is. We view prayer as a time in which we go to the “great Santa Claus in the sky” and tell Him all the things that we want. Such a shallow view of prayer can only lead to defeat. We can’t run in and out of the presence of the holy, almighty God as we would run into a department store with our shopping list.
Any healthy relationship takes time. My wife and I have developed a wonderful and deep relationship over the years because we’ve taken time to communicate with each other what’s really on our hearts. We attempt every week to find a time and place to get away from the phone, the office, and any other distractions. We take that time to share our hearts with each other. We share our problems, our hurts, our difficulties, and our victories that we’ve experienced during the week. Our most difficult moments in our relationship have come when we haven’t taken the time to communicate.
The same is true with prayer. It takes time to really communicate with God. And it takes time for Him to communicate with us what’s deep within His heart. Perhaps that’s why Jesus told His disciples that when they pray, they were to go into their closets and shut the door and that the Father who hears in secret would reward them publicly (Matthew 6:6). Prayer is not a religious show whereby we attempt to impress others with our spirituality. It’s not a religious duty or obligation. Prayer is first and foremost a time whereby we get away from the hustle and bustle of life so that we can share the intimate things of our hearts with God. It’s taking time to listen to His voice. It’s communion with the Creator of the universe.
Often I’m challenged on this principle. Some will say, “We should always be in a spirit of prayer. Therefore, we don’t need to set aside a time to be alone with God.” It’s true that we are to “pray without ceasing.” We should attempt to maintain a spirit of prayer throughout our daily lives. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need a regular consistent time to get alone with God and develop that intimate communication. Jesus taught His disciples to do that. If they needed to find a time and a place to get away from the distractions of the world and commune with God, then how much more do we need that time and place. If you really desire victory in your Christian life, this could be a starting place for you. It’s certainly not all there is to victory, but it’s a great starting place. Why don’t you find a place and set aside a time where you meet with God. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Read His Word and listen to His voice. Determine that you will obey whatever He says to you. You’ll find victory there.