AN INVITATION TO INTIMACY
The dreams assured me of God's love and presence. Suddenly I knew that intimacy with Him was absolutely possible, no matter what kind of stress I was experiencing.
I wish staying in that wonderful secret place with Him happened automatically, but it did not. Since then I've learned several practical steps to take to meet with God, who obviously longs to meet with us.
- First, most of us have to disregard the idea that we have to be specially called to times of prayer. God calls every one of us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17, NKJV).
However, before God calls us to prayer, He calls us to Himself. He is calling every one of us; He is calling you.
- Second, we need to find a place to be entirely alone. Susanna Wesley had no place to go inside her home to get away from her many children and be alone with the Lord. So she periodically pulled her apron up over her head, and her children knew it was time to leave her alone.
- Third, we must learn what it takes to quiet our own spirits. We must begin disconnecting from media and gab sessions with friends. Then we can take time to search our hearts, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to find out what's really going on inside of us.
If we want to find the secret place with God, we must enter with our true selves. Keeping up false fronts and masks will hinder us from experiencing God's presence.
- Fourth, we need help to prevent our minds from wandering. For this reason, I recommend that you meditate on God's Word. I can think of no better way to corral and direct your straying thoughts. Also, God's Word builds up our faith by revealing who He is to us.
- The fifth thing we can do to prepare ourselves to meet with God in the secret place is to open ourselves to receive His love. We have inside us a huge vacuum that only God can fill.
Therefore, our hearts must be wide open to Him. And prayer is simply turning our hearts fully toward God, opening up all of ourselves to Him and receiving His love in return.
Allowing God to fill us is difficult because we carry around mental lists of the many things we must do to become worthy. In actuality, all we are required to do is relax and breathe in the breath, the very Spirit of God, who is always present with us--and in us (see John 14:17).
COME AS YOU ARE
It's in the secret place of prayer that we find inspiration for the dull and dry times and comfort for the lonely and hurting times. Prayer is as simple as breathing out, asking God to clear out the clutter and the noise within, and breathing in His presence, asking Him to create that inner room where you can always go to meet with Him in secret.
The kind of prayer I am referring to is not about getting it right or achieving a goal. Intimate praying can come about only as we learn to strip away pretense and come, just as we are, into the inner chamber with our Lord and King.
Some of us look at other Christian women and think, If only I knew how to pray the way she prays. We engage in a kind of worldly thinking, as if we're going into another woman's home to see her decorating scheme.
Prayer that brings us into intimate experiences with God does not involve imitating another or reproducing that person's prayers. God wants you to have a relationship with Him that no one else can enjoy.
One of the greatest spiritual problems many of us have is wishing we were someone else. We want to enjoy God's presence, but we think, God, You really don't want to meet with me, do You?
Sister in Christ, you can't undo mistakes from your past or remake yourself into somebody you're not. God wants you to say: "God, I'm here! Just as I am, I come."
Being able to enter into the deep love and peace of God in prayer is not about getting rid of flaws and faults. It's being in the presence of the wonderful God who has said, "I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20).
Entering your secret place requires nothing more than coming. For He says, "'Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won't turn any of them away'" (John 6:37, CEV).
The only requirement for finding our way to the secret place with God is to begin. We start by abandoning ourselves to God, which means seeking Him and learning to rest in His divine presence no matter what our circumstances.
If we abandon ourselves to God, we trust that He is in control of our lives, not only when everything goes well but also when everything goes wrong. We trust that He has not abandoned us and that He knows what's best for us. We make a deliberate choice to believe that He is working something bigger into us than what we can accomplish ourselves.