Interesting things happen when you pray to grow closer to God. Who you thought you were — or had to be — gets thrown in the air like a deck of cards.
As you pick up the pieces and examine them individually, you decide to let some go without thinking twice. Some you don’t pick up at all.
While growing closer to God involves change and transformation— yes! — it also involves a willingness to fall silent and listen. Some of our old behaviors no longer fit the picture. Some of our old actions no longer feel enjoyable.
Growing closer to God involves a love so pure it’s not possible to fully comprehend by human standards. It happens to us and through us. When we ask God to help us grow closer to Him, when it’s truly our heart’s desire, it is a prayer that will never come back void.
James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
Praying to Grow Closer to God
Last week I felt like it was time to get steeped in learning. I had questions, and the place to turn was God. So I prayed that God would help me to grow closer to Him and love Him better. Then I felt an almost immediate call for silence.
Something inside was saying… it’s time to just be. To listen. To submit. To surrender.
I wondered how long it would last, especially since it was Christmastime. To my surprise it happened gradually — a little rough initially — but now I’m starting to see the opportunities as they arise.
Praying to grow closer to God is what we’re called to do. In fact, the first commandment is for us to love God with all our heart, mind and strength. He didn’t give us this law to set us up for failure but so that we would turn to Him for help.
We don’t possess divine love on our own. We cannot comprehend God’s kind of love–agape love–without God. But we can pray for God to help us grow closer to Him. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit–who loves Jesus Christ–that we can enjoy and demonstrate a closer love of God, a deepening and unfolding that can take an entire lifetime.
How does the Holy Spirit do this? It’s divine. Romans 8:26 tells us:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Learning God’s Story
When I first started going back to church I remember a pastor saying if we want to learn who God is, we have to read His story, which is the Bible. He was saying how people often turn to the Bible for self-help, but first and foremost, the Bible is a book that teaches us who God is.
Amazing right? Reading the Bible to grow closer to God and praying that God reveals Himself turns a book into living words. It transforms the act of reading His word into an experience that penetrates our life. We learn who He is in the process, and we also learn who He is not.
God is good.
Ends and Beginnings
As this year comes to an end, another new year presents a beginning. This year could be the year you grow closer to God with prayer, study and the constant, daily help of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve made this prayer, and the miracles continue to amaze me. I find myself responding differently, or at the very least wanting to respond differently. I find myself turning to God to soften my heart. Even over the holiday season, I found myself growing silent (not a typical trait!) and more filled with the desire to listen and just be.
God appears in the silence. Jesus Christ opens up his arms to take us in.
Blessings to you this year. May the new year ahead be filled with God’s grace and love in your life.
Photo Credit. Thank you!