It is not in hearing God or feeling cozy thoughts toward Him that constitutes friendship with Him, though I long believed it was. It’s not a magic prayer or formula, though most days I wish it was.
It’s familiarity through ongoing conversation and trust and surrender to being loved.
It’s not spiritual achievement or a sense of have-it-all-togetherness, but attention and humility and obedience. It’s not instant or controllable, but adventurous and unpredictable.
Most days, I don’t have the capacity for the slowness and risky nature of this kind of relationship. Rather, I don’t allow myself the space to cultivate it. I heap an unrealistic amount of expectations onto my shoulders. My mind spins with tasks to do and friends to check in on and ideas to pursue. Internally, it’s often a cluttered room of ‘shoulds’ and ‘what ifs’ and restlessness and proving.
If you’re like me and sometimes your life with God feels complicated, I invite you to try a practice of simplicity:
As you go about your day, in the middle minutes, in both the boring and exciting moments, occupy your mind as often as you can with the truth that God is closer to you than you are to yourself.* Believe that He is who He is says He is and that you are who He says you are.
Resist the urge to strive for a spiritual answers, feelings or disciplines and pursue God. Simply because He’s God and you love Him, not to get something from Him. And, speaking from experience, the tasting and seeing of God as He is will only increase your awareness of what tempts you away from His side. There will be bouts of silence that seem dry, or days we don’t understand why our life is going the way it is, you’ll wonder why a sin still tempts you so much, or the weighty burden of watching the world. Resist the need to figure it out. Occupy your mind with the reality that He is in you, with you and for you in this very moment. Be changed and sanctified by your pursuit of Him, not only pursuit of knowledge or warm feelings or even more faith. Trust that God has not changed and He has given you all you need already (His Spirit and His Word).
“It isn’t a matter of achieving God’s presence, but surrendering to God’s presence that is already within the Christian. It’s more than a habit, it’s a fundamental way of living. As a flag or banner waves over a castle continuously, the presence of God hovers around us, sometimes rippling in the wind, other times resting quietly, but always in a place that stands out, that cannot escape the eyes we are training to recognize Him.”Jan JOHNSON
It isn’t a magic prayer. It’s a living, breathing, interactive, giving-and-receiving relationship.