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As we journey to a place of deeper intimacy with God, we will have times of special visitation by the Holy Spirit. These times of precious fellowship are a foretaste of glory--a glimpse of the heavenly ecstasy that awaits us beyond the veil of this life. They are direct encounters with the love of God.

Holy visitations are not experiences we can make happen. Most of the time they come as a surprise. But there are several things we can do to prepare our hearts and lay the groundwork for God's coming.

Pour out your heart. One of the first things is to pour out our hearts to God and express our desire for more of Him. This is the way I began a brief prayer retreat recently in a rustic cabin at Lord's Land Retreat in California.

When I first entered the cabin, I looked out a giant window and was taken aback by the display of beauty. I felt surrounded by the God of all creation.

I climbed up to the loft, which contained one small window and a skylight. Through the skylight I watched clouds pass across the bright blue sky. I delighted in the view out the window of tall redwood trees and dense woods. Thanksgiving and praise to God flowed out of my spirit for the glory of His workmanship.

I began to pray earnestly, "Lord, I feel that I scarcely know You, but I want to know You much better. The more I know You, the more I realize how very little I truly know You. I want to see You. I want to sense Your presence. I want to be like You, and I want to be with You."

My heart yearned for more of Jesus.

Suddenly God's presence poured over me like liquid love. I sensed, in a very tangible way, the nature of His unconditional love for me. He flooded my soul with His indescribable glory.

Give Him first place. If we want to experience God's presence in a deeper way, we must be willing to yield our minds, our time and our plans to the Lord. He must always have preeminence.

When God's presence rushed in upon me, I hadn't been seeking a particular experience. I wasn't trying to make anything happen. I simply prayed, "I just want to know You, Lord."

But when God responded to my heart's cry, I could not say, "God, wait. Just hold off for a few minutes, and let me climb down from this loft because I need to go back up the hill to get something." That was never a consideration.

At that moment of visitation, nothing else mattered but God. He came first.

Develop a sensitivity to His presence. It is crucial that we practice the presence of God daily and spend time in prayer so that we become sensitive to Him. As we do this, He gives us an ability to discern His nearness.

I have done this for years. Now, when I sense the slightest nudge of the Holy Spirit, my spiritual ears perk up. I start listening, and my spirit-man opens up to receive Him.

I try constantly to be receptive to the Lord. It's not a difficult thing; entering into His presence requires less and less effort as we yield our spirits to Him. It's like keeping spiritual antennae up, always waiting for a signal from above.

Respond to His urging.
At times it requires no effort to enter into God's presence. There are seasons when we have a deep, Spirit-driven hunger and thirst for the things of God. These are times of intense spiritual desire for Him.

At such times I try to respond to the slightest whisper of the Holy Spirit's call. I know that if I fail to respond to His prompting, the opportunity for that particular spiritual experience may never come again. Something wonderful may have been lost forever.

This is one of the most important lessons I've learned over the years about waiting on the Lord and receiving from His Spirit. Often people come to me and share how they shrugged off or pushed away the presence of the Lord, and later they were sorry.

Pride got in the way and caused them to miss something that God had for them. They let circumstances and worldly pressures dictate how they should use their time. The Lord called them into a wonderful experience, but they felt compelled to get up and get busy, or they had to do a few more chores before waiting for Him on their knees.

If you get a nudging from the Lord to enter into prayer, never shrug it off--never turn away. Never say, "Not now, Lord." Allow Him, at that very moment, to minister to you or touch you or speak to you--whatever it is He desires to do.

This is how you develop a greater sensitivity to His voice and learn to surrender to Him. Every time you yield yourself to God, you give more of yourself to Him--more of your heart, your plans, your desires, your hopes and your dreams. And you open yourself up to having a life-changing encounter with the divine Lover of your soul.

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