How to Experience Intimacy with God
By John Aziza
Intimacy is that special emotion we feel with the nearest and dearest people to us. It's the experience of really knowing or being known by another person. Only our closest friends are allowed to glimpse into the private areas of our lives while others merely know us from a distance. That's what makes intimacy so special.
But what about spiritual intimacy or the intimacy we experience with God? Indeed, spiritual intimacy is more consequential than we may realize because it represents the core purpose of redemption. You see, God created humans expressly for the sake of relationship (Lev. 26:12; 1 Jn. 4:10, 19). He craves close fellowship with us, and wants us to be fulfilled and satisfied in His presence (Ps. 16:11; 34:8). But sin separated us from God and cut us off from such relationship. So God sent Christ into the world in order to restore His relationship with us and to enable us to once again experience Him intimately.
So what does it take to experience God more intimately? Let's attempt to answer this question in the following study.
Prayer is the first point to explore in relation to intimacy with God and also the most crucial. The Bible emphasizes prayer more than any other spiritual exercise. In fact, it's so important that God chose it to characterize His dwelling place, the Temple: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer... (Mat. 21:13). The reason why prayer is so crucial is because it represents communication, and communication is always essential in any healthy relationship. If we fail to communicate with God, we will fail at our relationship with Him also.
So prayer is the conduit through which we experience intimacy with God. Yet many Christians really struggle with prayer and view it as something dull or redundant. As a result, their communication with God is often lacking and amounts to little more than a well rehearsed litany. But this is not true prayer. And we can be certain that such half-hearted prayers will never grab God's attention. So what we wish to discover is REAL prayer—the kind that actually works and produces dynamic results!
PRAYER MOTIVATED BY GENUINE LOVE (EMOTIONAL PRAYER)
We cannot deny it. The mainstream church is endemic with superficial emotionalism. And as a result, it's hard to distinguish genuine emotion from that which is shallow and false. But what about real emotion? Is there a legitimate place for it? Yes. Absolutely! Emotion is vital to our relationship with God and must not be ignored. In fact, the most powerful emotion described in the Bible is LOVE! Love is such a crucial emotion because it is the very first requirement in any valid relationship, which also includes our relationship with God.
Just think about it. How can we begin to know God, if we don’t even love Him? The answer is simple. We can’t. Just as we crave to be loved, the same applies to God. And therefore He desires a relationship with us that involves our genuine love. So love must become the primary motivator in our prayer life and we should never settle for prayer that does not emanate from a heart of love. Anything less will make for dull and meaningless prayer, which is why love is the number one requirement in the Christian life: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Mat. 22:36-37).
PRAYING WITH HUMILITY
Humility in prayer is an often repeated Biblical theme, and it doesn’t take much Bible digging to realize that God honors and expects a humble heart:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray... (2Chroc. 7:14).
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (Jas. 4:10).
But what exactly is humility and what does it look like? Humility is the heart condition we assume when realizing our corrupt human state in light of God's infinite holiness. It is the feeling of helplessness which signals to God that we are trusting only in His grace for salvation and not our good merit. The following Bible passages aptly demonstrate what a humble attitude looks like and how we can adopt it in order to gain God's approval:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Ps. 51:17).
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Isa. 66:2).
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner... I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luk. 18:10-14).
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment. And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment (Luk. 7:37-38).
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief (Mar. 9:24).
The above scriptures showcase some of the finest examples of biblical humility. Notice how the publican was justified before God because of his demonstration of humility. He didn't attempt to justify himself, but rather plead for God's mercy in the most humble posture. But the pharisee, on the other hand, was summarily rejected for his self-righteous attitude and his stubborn reliance on his own good works. Now consider also the humility of the harlot who washed Christ's feet with her tears. Jesus was so impressed by her clear demonstration of humility that He granted her full pardon of any wrongdoing. Christ noted that those who are forgiven much have a greater propensity to love as opposed to those who feel no need for God's forgiveness: Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little (Luk. 7:47).
These examples should teach us an important lesson. If we humble ourselves and confess our faults, we will always receive God's forgiveness and acceptance, but if we try to appeal to our good merit, we will be rejected just like the self-righteous Pharisee (Luk. 18:10-14).
How much do we desire intimacy with God? Is it a profound yearning or a casual interest? If our desire is shallow and superficial then we will never obtain it—intimacy with God will elude us. So perhaps the most important feature of spiritual intimacy is the depth of our desire or need for God. And nothing says we want God more than our urgency in prayer. Desperate prayer, therefore, is an important subject to pursue.
It is a fact that when an urgent need arises our prayers take on a desperate quality. These urgent prayers are usually emotionally charged and may be accompanied by crying or weeping. For instance, consider the mother who receives news that her child will soon succumb to terminal illness. Would this mother not cry out to God for a miracle? Would she not employ her deepest emotions to secure God's ear? Yes, of course she would! Desperate people will pray in a desperate manner until God answers. It is clear from Scripture that desperate prayer is potent and moves the heart of God like nothing else. In fact, there are many biblical instances where desperate prayer is mentioned or God specifically prescribes it. Here are just a few examples:
Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. ...Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? (Joel 2:12,17)
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites, men, women and children, gathered around him. They too wept bitterly (Ezra 10:1).
So Hannah rose up … And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore (1Sam. 1:9-10).
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven (Neh. 1:4).
When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly (Esther 4:10).
Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping (Ps. 6:8).
When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn (Ps. 69:10).
To further appreciate the power of desperate prayer, let's examine the compelling accounts of two godly kings, Josiah and Hezekiah. When King Josiah realized how greatly the children of Israel had transgressed God's Law and that His judgment was pending, he did not act complacently. Instead, his heart became responsive and he wept with deep remorse, while pleading for God's mercy and forgiveness. This was the very response God was looking for and His approval of Josiah’s attitude is summarized in the following verses:
Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord (2 King 22:19).
In King Hezekiah's account, we find a similar response, yet his story is even more compelling. Consider the fact that Hezekiah not only managed to avert a death sentence, but also increased his life span by up to fifteen years with added blessings because he manifested a humble attitude:
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. …And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake (2King. 20:1-6).
Now ask yourself what would have happened if Hezekiah’s response was slightly different. What if he simply prayed for mercy without shedding a single tear? Would God have still healed him? Perhaps so. But God may not have added an additional fifteen years to his life span or spared his kingdom. Yet we see that because Hezekiah's response was perfect, and he offered God something that could be heard (prayer) and observed (tears), God answered his prayer and gave him far better than he could have expected otherwise.
So clearly, God’s servants were desperate individuals who knew how to intercede with weeping in order to move God into action. Sometimes using an “emotional appeal” with God is far more effective than the stiff and formal manner to which we are accustomed. Consequently, it would be wise for us to learn from the preceding examples and to fully embrace the power of desperate prayer in our pursuit of spiritual intimacy.
Now let's shift our attention to the lifestyle of Jesus in the area of prayer. The book of Hebrews gives us the best snapshot of Christ's prayer life. Notice:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared (Heb. 5:7).
It is interesting that this is the only verse in the entire New Testament suggesting that Jesus experienced fear—in that he feared. But what was Jesus afraid of? Was He terrified of experiencing the pain of crucifixion? Was He afraid of being scorned and mocked? No. Of course not! On the contrary, what Jesus feared most was the prospect of failing God. This alone was enough to deeply frighten Him. Jesus was fully aware of the consequences of such failure and its impact on humanity's destiny. And because of it, He refused to carry out the task of redemption without His Father's help. So He plead for divine assistance in a desperate manner, with strong crying and tears. So perhaps Christ's life was the greatest success story ever, not because He was given superhuman powers, but because He practiced such a dynamic form of prayer (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12,13).
Another important component of spiritual intimacy is persevering prayer. When we persevere in prayer despite opposition or hardship, we demonstrate to God that our spiritual desires are genuine and solid. A good example of persevering prayer is Jacob's mighty struggle with God. According to Genesis 32, Jacob “wrestled” with a heavenly angel until he prevailed and received the blessing he was after (Gen. 32:22-32). But he wasn't only materially blessed. Something else happened which was of far greater value. Jacob's name was changed to "Israel" (Hebrew: prevailed with God) and he was given a new identity. Yet how in the world did Jacob engage in a physical struggle with God? After all, is it really possible to “wrestle” with the Almighty? The answer to this question is located in Hosea 12. Notice how it reads:
He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us (Hos. 12:3-4).
Here we see that Jacob “had power with God and prevailed over the angel”. But we must not imagine for a moment that Jacob had superhuman strength that helped him prevail in this struggle. No. Such thinking is foolish. If we read on, we discover that Jacob wept and supplicated (prayed with a request). Jacob knew how to wrestle with God on his knees! He knew how to pray with such forceful emotion that God was compelled to respond. So this was Jacob’s special power. This was how he persevered with God in prayer, and prevailed!
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently (persistently) seek him (Heb 11:6).
It is a fact that the greatest rewards in life are only obtained with a fair share of persistence. You will not graduate university, climb the ladder of financial success, or attain to any significant level of authority without it. But how does this relate to spiritual intimacy? The two are very much related because spiritual intimacy also requires its fair share of persistence. Since spiritual intimacy is only obtained through prayer, the amount of time we spend on our knees persisting in prayer defines our success. God has made it clear that He is looking for individuals who are not lazy in seeking Him. Therefore persistence is a valid requirement in the Christian life and necessary for obtaining both the physical and spiritual blessings of the Faith, as demonstrated by the following Scriptures:
…ye have not, because you ask not… And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (Jas 4:2b; Luk 18:1-7).
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luk 11:5-13).
Notice that in both parables Christ draws a vivid picture of persistence. The importune widow refused to take "no" for an answer and wouldn't keep silent until her pleas for justice were answered. Likewise, the man who needed bread for his guest demonstrated the same unwavering persistence. He wearied his friend with constant asking until his friend relented and accommodated his request.
Now after Jesus spoke these parables, He clarified their meaning as follows: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. In other words, we ought to be "seeking" and "knocking" persistently.
But what is it that God wants us to seek for so persistently? Is it wealth, health, or prosperity? Absolutely not! Verse 13 gives us the answer. It tells us that we should diligently ask for the Holy Spirit: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
You see, the Holy Spirit represents the manifest presence of God. And those who seek intimacy with God are essentially desiring to experience His manifest presence. They desire a spiritual encounter that will both change and empower them.
PRAY WITH EFFORT AND FERVENCY
So far we've demonstrated that God is looking for wholehearted individuals who will compel Him to act on their behalf. Individuals who will “wrestle” with Him in prayer until they persevere. This means we should prepare to be fully engaged in the process of spiritual intimacy. Jesus alluded to the great effort involved in laying hold of His Kingdom in the following text:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Mat. 11:12).
The language in the above verse seems rather bizarre and confusing. Obviously, God’s kingdom is spiritual and cannot “suffer violence" from mere men. So what did Jesus really mean? To better understand the phrase "suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" we must consult the original Greek in which these words were written. For instance, the Greek word underlying "suffereth violence" is biazo, which also means to "press into or seize" (see Strong's G971). While the phrase "the violent take it by force" is biastes harpazo autos or "the energetic seize it for themselves" (see Strong's G973, G726, G846). Taken together, we get the following alternate reading:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is pressed into or seized, and the energetic seize it for themselves (Mat. 11:12).
So this indicates that God is allowing His Kingdom to be seized by zealous men who will employ all of their physical and spiritual resources in apprehending His Kingdom. There is a requirement to overcome in the Christian life (Rev. 21:7), which denotes an active action. And we are also commanded to wage war against the principalities of darkness who WILL oppose us when we seek for greater intimacy with God (2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 Tim. 6:12; Eph 6:12). After all, Christians do not exist in merely a physical sphere. Rather, we are stuck in a perpetual struggle with the forces of evil. And like it or not, the devil is devising every possible tactic to extinguish our spiritual zeal and lull us into a drowsy and complacent condition. Satan knows that once he has us in such a state, he can easily defeat us and keep us from experiencing true intimacy with God.
James 5 is another passage that confirms the need for effort and fervency in prayer. Notice:
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months (Jas. 5:16-17).
It is interesting that the word “effectual” is energeo in the original Greek. The English counterpart to energeo is energetic. It should also be noted that the word “fervent” is synonymous with passion. So here again is a clear indication that God prioritizes prayers that are passionate and borne out of special effort or energy.
[Note: Passion is often an indication of our love for something. If we lack passion for God or passion in prayer, it is an obvious sign of our poor spiritual condition.]
But how often do we hear Christians praying together in an energetic or passionate manner? Sadly, it rarely happens. The truth is that most of us prefer to pray in either hushed tones or a highly sophisticated style. And do we wonder why God is not moving in our churches or why He refuses to grace us with His presence?? Perhaps our passionless prayers are to blame, and the very source of our spiritual impotence and failure. If so, it's time to acknowledge it and reconsider our methods.
DISOBEDIENCE RESULTS IN SEPARATION FROM GOD
According to 1 John 3:4, sin is the transgression of God's Law. Therefore when we disobey God we are guilty of sin. The consequence of disobedience is that we are separated from God (Is. 59:2). But there's good news! Jesus died on the cross in order to become the atoning Lamb that takes away our sin and enables us to be freely pardoned and justified before God (John 1:29; 3:16). However, there's one very important condition. Christ's sacrificial act provides forgiveness for sin ONLY after we accept Him as Savior and Lord and ONLY after we genuinely repent of our sin and abandon it (Act. 2:38). In other words, if there's no genuine repentance, there's no genuine salvation. Sadly, this vital truth is often overlooked by many professing Believers and seldom preached by the church's ministers and teachers.
But what happens when we sin after faith in Christ? The good news is that God's forgiveness continues to cover the sin we commit even after we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. So if we fail God in some way during our Christian journey we must immediately confess our sin and request forgiveness in the name of Jesus and rest assured in God's forgiveness (1Jn. 1:9). However, this doesn't mean that we have a "get out of jail free" card or that we receive a special license to habitually sin and disobey God (Rom. 6:1-2). In fact, if we take Christ's sacrifice for granted in this manner and maintain a perpetual pattern of disobedience we are simply proving that we have never genuinely repented, and therefore we are still lost (Rom. 6:1-2; 1Cor. 6:9-10).
So obeying God is imperative in our pursuit of spiritual intimacy because it signals to Him that we are serious about abiding in His favor. And while we can never expect to be completely without sin in this present life, we can definitely overcome most of our sin with Christ's help (1 Jn. 1:8; Phil. 4:13; Col. 3:5). The process of becoming more like Jesus and less sinful is called sanctification and it's an extremely important feature of the Christian life. It's also how we become righteous and our prayers more effective:
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (Jas. 5:16).
TO KNOW GOD INTIMATELY WE MUST READ THE BIBLE
In order to befriend God we must first get to know Him. All friendships are built upon a good knowledge of a person's character. In fact, we can never hope to appreciate another person until we are familiar with their individual characteristics. The same applies in our relationship with God. Only after gaining a better understanding of who God is can we actually relate to Him in a pleasing manner.
So how do we become familiar with God's character and attributes? There's only one way, by reading God's Word, the Bible. The Bible contains everything we need to know about God, His laws, and His dealings with mankind. So only by reading the Bible can we learn how to satisfy all of God's requirements. This means that reading the Bible should become our top priority, especially if we desire to grow closer to Him.
But there's a special blessing that comes from reading God's Word. We gain an essential spiritual attribute called faith:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6).
GETTING OUR HEARTS IN SYNC WITH GOD'S
Undoubtedly, Jesus led a life dedicated to prayer and intercession. He spent many hours in prayer for His disciples and those to whom He ministered. In fact, so deep was Christ's burden for His fellow Jews that He wept over Jerusalem: And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it (Lk. 19:41-42).
The closer we get to God, the more of an all-consuming burden we will develop for the lost. It is then that we will be smitten with grief over those who are perishing without Christ. And just like Jesus, we will be moved by the Holy Spirit to weep and travail for those. Sometimes the tears will flow for a while and sometimes only momentarily. Yet afterwards, we will experience a great feeling of joy, having an assurance of answered prayer because our hearts are in sync with God's over this lost and dying world. This is the greatest expression of intimacy with God—when we are willing to adopt His burden and experience His pain.
WORSHIP & THANKSGIVING
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name (Ps. 100:4).
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Heb 13:15).
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Php. 4:6).
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Col. 4:2).
Praise and thanksgiving play a vital role in spiritual intimacy because they satisfy the heart of God. The verse quotations above demonstrate this very clearly. Those who desire to advance in their Christian walk should practice worship and thanksgiving as often as possible.
It is interesting that while Old Testament Saints offered up blood sacrifices to atone for their transgressions, New Testament Saints are called to "sacrifice" unto God with “the fruit of our lips”, which represents our worship and thanksgiving. Therefore we should engage in worshiping God continually, just the same as prayer.
REPENTANCE & SIN CONFESSION
Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Is. 59:1-2).
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy (Prov. 28:13).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn. 1:9).
Sometimes Christians forget that God is holy and will not commune with unrepentant sinners. But it's important to remember that unless we repent of our sin, God cannot listen to our prayers. So those who wish to have an intimate relationship with God would do well to realize this.
We must also remember that unless we agree to forsake our sin, repentance is incomplete. In other words, those who say they have repented and go on repeating the same offense over and over again are only deceiving themselves (Rom. 6:1). The Scriptures are clear that unless we confess our sin and FORSAKE it, we cannot prosper or hope to find favor with God (Prov. 28:13). So only after we are willing to confess our sins and forsake them will God cleanse us from all unrighteousness, just as He promised (1Jn. 1:9).
Shortly after coming to Faith in Christ, I was introduced to members of the persecuted Church from the former Soviet Union. These Slavic Believers placed a lot of emphasis on the need for sin confession and repentance, and it deeply impressed me. In fact, few of these dear Christians will proceed in prayer without first confessing their sin and requesting God's forgiveness. It is truly remarkable that they were willing to confess their sin before their fellow Believers in such a public manner. But they did so because they well understand the raw power of humility and biblical transparency. They understood that the key to incurring God's favor had to do with their willingness to walk before God and men in humility. Perhaps we should consider their example. After all, notice that James 5:16 exhorts us to confess our faults one to another so that we can be healed from our infirmities. It is obvious to me that God instituted this practice to keep the Church both humble and accountable.
As Western Believers, we have a lot to learn from the persecuted Brethren around the world. But if we refuse to acknowledge our failure and modify our approach accordingly, we will find ourselves stuck in a spiritual rut with no one to blame but ourselves.
While fasting may not spark our enthusiasm, the Scriptures reveal it as one of the most powerful weapons in our spiritual arsenal. Coupled with intercession, it is especially useful in breaking free from demonic bondage and oppression.
Christians may often experience some type of hinderance in their attempts to connect with God more intimately. Something refuses to “budge” and our hearts are left void and empty. Sadly, this condition may linger much longer than expected, leaving us feeling desperate. I can personally testify to having this experience more times than I care to admit. I've had the feeling that my prayers were bouncing off the walls or ascending only as high as the ceiling above me. However, it's important to take serious action the moment this begins to happen. We must not take it lightly or ignore it. And we must recognize it as a direct attack by satan on our relationship with God. If we allow him, the devil will gladly rob us from all spiritual energy and deplete us completely from the joy and peace God has promised as a benefit of serving Him.
So what should we do? The answer really depends on how much we value our relationship with Jesus. We may not realize this, but the spiritual “blockage” we are experiencing could be a test. The Lord may be testing our resolve to pursue intimate fellowship with Him. In this way He is also testing our love and willingness to serve Him. He may look to see what price we are willing to pay in order to experience a dynamic season in His presence. If we are indifferent about our spiritual “sickness”, then we’ve just proven that our concern for God is minimal. Perhaps we enjoy appearing spiritual before men like the Pharisees, but inside, we care very little for the things of God. But if we are genuine and sincere in our love for the Lord then the following verses will encourage us to try a season of fasting in order to succeed in our spiritual efforts:
Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning (Joe. 2:12).
And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting (Mrk. 9:29).
And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing (Act. 10:30).
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency (1Co. 7:5).
In closing, allow me to summarize the major highlights of our study so far. We began this study by focusing on prayer's principle role in our relationship with God and our desire to experience spiritual intimacy. We then went on to describe how dry and meaningless prayer could be without the presence of certain spiritual elements such as love, humility, persistence, and obedience. The bulk of our study dealt with the power of desperate prayer in the form of brokenness and weeping. But we recognize that this is not the only thing required in order to meet with God more intimately. Confession of sin and repentance also play a vital role in our ability to have a successful spiritual breakthrough because we realize that sin hides us from God and obstructs our ability to fellowship with Him. And finally, we examined the power of fasting in relation to surmounting spiritual barriers.
You see, what I hope you realize is that this article was written as a sort of manual for those who may be trying to connect with God but feel hopeless in their struggle. If that describes you, then I pray you will test the principles outlined in this writing as you endeavor to meet with God in a more meaningful way. Do not give up without giving God a fair chance to prove that He is no liar and that when we follow the prescription provided in His Word, He is always faithful to uphold His end of the promise:
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart (Jer 29:13).
God bless you!