Sadly, few of us can claim the testimony of an Enoch or Noah, who ‘walked with God’ closely and continuously. Often we are more like Peter, who ‘followed afar off’. Yet it is true that each of us is as close to God as we choose to be. The purpose of this article then is to highlight some practical steps we can take to remain close to Him day by day.
Why do we need to, and why should we want to, be close to Christ? Firstly, we remember that through His work of redemption, Christ has purchased our lives, and that we are no longer our own. In the light of this, we must make Christ the priority in our lives, realizing that ‘love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my all’ (Isaac Watts). Furthermore, we recognize that Christ is now the purpose of our lives; that we may know Him, make Him known to others, and become more like Him each day. Finally, we must remember that Christ is the only source of power in our lives, and that without Him we can do nothing.
What a wonderful thing it is that Almighty God desires to speak and listen to us daily! Yet how often would we have to confess that we neglect this tremendous privilege?
There will no doubt be some Christians reading this who find Bible reading a bit of a struggle. If that’s the case I would encourage you, as someone who spent many years in that position, not to give up and abandon the Bible, but rather make all the more effort to get into it. Read with an open notebook, trying to summarize what you’ve read, and noting down points of interest. Read also with an open heart, willing to live out what you take in. Taking in a small amount and living it out in practice is of greater value than reading a lot and doing nothing about it. As James encourages us, we must be ‘doers of the word, and not hearers only’, 1. 22.
Another area which may be a struggle for some is that of private prayer. Again, I encourage you to persevere in your private prayers. It is vital that we ‘come boldly to the throne of grace’ to receive fresh power to live for God, while at the same time thanking Him for the salvation He has given us, and confessing our sins so that there is nothing hindering our fellowship with Him. Personally, I’ve found it helpful to pray aloud (albeit a whisper!) in order to remain focussed in prayer, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s all too easy to lose concentration.
Is it better to spend time with the Lord in the morning or evening? When we consider all that He has done for us, would we not want to do both? Even a short time alone with God morning and night will make a real difference in our lives.
So if you currently don’t have a regular time alone with the Lord, why not do something about it now and make an appointment with Him this evening?
Find a Christian friend you trust, that you can be accountable to, in relation to your reading, prayer life, personal holiness and service for God. This will flag up to you when things are beginning to go in the wrong direction and focus your attention on areas which need to be addressed.
Cultivating a close relationship with the Lord isn’t just about making time for Him once, or twice, a day. We must think about how we can bring Christ into everything we do. Is it not true that most of us waste time on things of little value, at the expense of spending it with and for the Lord? Let us ask ourselves, ‘Are the things we’re living for worth Christ dying for?’
May we then draw closer to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, for it is true that to be much for God, we must be much with God.