There is a difference that I’ve noticed between intimate time in His presence versus trying to “free the mind from worries and anxieties”, or “imagining Jesus by my side and talking to Him”, or “going through the motions of praying”.
What I’ve found is that when I’ve fallen into only meditating and listening, or only imagining and speaking, or only walking through the tradition and practice — that the intimacy is missing in my interactions with the Lord.
Do we truly “realize His presence” here with us — or does He feel far from us?
Are we “naked before God” by confessing our weaknesses and giving Him glory by acknowledging our need for Him to fight our battles for us — or focusing more on how we think our own minds should be clean and we’re wanting to be stronger and more positive in our thoughts?
Are we soaking in the presence of God as we savor our time with Him — or are we doing what we know we’re supposed to do and saying the things we’ve been taught to say?
Are we aware of His actual presence right here with us — or are we trying to imagine God strong enough with our minds so that we can put on a pretty face and ignore our feelings?
We might say these are subtle differences if we were a scientist or mathematician observing and asking questions to record measurements about the physical process itself — but there is an Almighty difference in what is happening spiritually.
Prayer is not something done alone “inside our own minds” — but is intimacy with Almighty God.
Faith is not us being strong minded enough to “put on a happy face” in spite of feelings and circumstances and to not hurt or not be unhappy or only think positively — but Faith is a choice to be honest and vulnerable about our brokenness, our weaknesses, and our need for God to fight our battles, coupled with our trust that He will because He said He will.
In today’s world where there is so much new aged philosophy and self help and religious practice around us to distract us from a personal and intimate relationship with our God — sometimes it helps to remember, to realize who is right beside us, who is with us.
Why would a man turn to pictures on his phone, or flirtations with another, or fantasizing on his own if his wonderful, beautiful, passionate wife is laying beside him? He either doesn’t want intimacy with her, or he doesn’t believe she wants intimacy with him!
And this is how we are with God! We trade actual intimacy with God — for self manufactured imaginations, coping mechanisms, and substitutions.
And don’t feel particularly low about it if you can see it yourself, friend. I said “we” because this is common to man. We have all gone astray and forgotten at times how sweet, beautiful, loving and amazing the Lord is to us. But it is time to return to intimacy with the Lord. It is time to be vulnerable and real. It is time to pray, realizing we are in the presence of God. Amen.
For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord , ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 AMP
One thing I have asked of the Lord , and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.
Psalms 27:4 AMP
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will take hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, And the night will be the only light around me,” Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You, But the night shines as bright as the day; Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was being formed in secret, And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were appointed for me, When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape]. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
Psalms 139:7-18 AMP