Experience Intimacy with God

Ancient or modern, God’s children have always wanted intimacy with Him. Rightly so. Man was made for close knowledge and familiarity with God. God walked with Adam in the Garden (Gen. 3). Intimacy is all over the psalms. “I love You, O Lord” (Ps. 18:1). “My soul thirsts for You” (Ps 63:1). “Hear my cry, O God” (Ps. 61:1). “I will give You thanks with all my heart” (Ps. 138:1). Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you…if you abide in Me and My words abide in you…”(John 15:4, 7). What a delight it is to know Jesus!

In this post, I talked about experiencing intimacy with God through prayer. It is part of a series on hearing God “in the heart.” Now I’d like to broaden to other means God has given for enjoying Him, for enjoying the relationship a person can have with Him.

First though, it is essential to distinguish between the state of being in an intimate relationship with God and the experience of that intimacy. A personal familial relationship with God must be obtained before it can be experienced. Yet as I listen to many Christian women in the country I conclude that in general they are so focused on the experience that they actually limit the breadth and depth of their relationship.

How do we obtain a familial (intimate) relationship with God?

The Bible says that all people are born separated from God. What separates is our sin. To remove the separation and obtain peace with God we need forgiveness. Forgiveness can’t be earned; it is given by God’s grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). The particular faith is belief that Jesus is the Son of God who died to pay for sins, rose from the dead, and ascended to the Father. Upon trust in Christ for forgiveness, the person enters a relationship of peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Once an enemy, he is reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10-11). He is granted full rights as a son in God’s family, is united with Christ, and has the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph. 1). This close relationship, this intimate state in God’s family, is a position. It is given through trust, trust in Christ and Christ alone.

How do we experience intimacy in relationship?

To achieve a sense of intimacy with God (as opposed to the positional state), people suggest all kinds of methods. In a google search, I found that some suggest singing God a (romantic) love song–not wrong unless it is the pursuit of sensations because we like how they feel. Some suggest saying a breath prayer, but there is no biblical basis for such a concept. You might breathe deeply or take a walk–those two seem to go together well, though how they generate feelings of intimacy with God I don’t see. There are many options invented by men.

God Himself tells us how we can enjoy intimacy with Him. Fear the Lord.

The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him
And He will make them know His covenant. ~ Prov. 25:14

A study of the word “secret” shows that the idea of this verse is friendship, intimate communion. The Lord is holy, unapproachable, and not to be understood on a whim, but He confides in those who fear Him. Fear of the Lord is a right response to knowledge of Him, a response of mingled dread, awe, veneration, wonder, pleasure, and joy which motivates love for and obedience to God. If it doesn’t result in obedience, it may be a feeling of awe but it isn’t fear of the Lord.

What does God confide? His covenant, which reveals Himself. He enables those who fear Him to understand the covenant’s revelation of His glorious character, its gracious provisions, the way to salvation and reconciliation with Him.

Where can we find such a wonderful covenant? In the Bible. It certainly can’t be discovered anywhere else in all creation nor in religious stories handed down or all the books that have ever been written. The New Covenant given in the Bible is where Christ Himself is revealed.

What does the Bible show as to the means of enjoying intimate friendship with this otherwise unapproachable, holy God? As we relate to Him in the following ways, our relationship with Him is strengthened and intimate communion will increase and deepen.

  • Faith
    • Believe God when He says “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18). God remains in close proximity to one who trusts Him, and that closeness is not dependent upon the person’s feelings but upon the God who promised. He calls His children to trust Him for it.
  • Bible reading and study to hear from God
    • The Bible is where God has hidden the “secret” He reveals to those who fear Him (Prov. 25:14).
    • The Bible is God’s self-revelation. No wonder “Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors” (Ps. 119:124).
    • “He who has my commandments and keeps them he it is who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” ( John 14:21). If we don’t study His commandments we can’t expect know them in order to express our love to Jesus in a way that pleases Him (2 Tim. 2:15).
  • Obedience
    • “He who has my commandments and keeps them he it is who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).
      There’s nothing about feelings here. Feelings come and go. Though obedience results in positive feelings, it is the obedience that is reliable evidence that the child is lovingly close to his father

      • Obedience to what? It is through obedience to the “commandments,” not to impressions, that children express their love.
      • Jesus promises to disclose Himself (intimacy). How? Again, there is nothing here about impressions. He discloses Himself where He has spoken–in His Word, illumined by His Spirit. Obedience increases disclosure because practice enhances experiential understanding.
  • Prayer to talk to God
    • Jesus communed with His Father in prayer and still intercedes for Christians (John 17).
    • By prayer, we talk to God. (See this post.)
  • Call Him “Father.”
    • Christians are children of God (John 3:1-2). Jesus told the children of God to call Him “Father” (Matt. 6:9). If you are His child, come to Him as a godly child, adoringly affectionate.
  • Daily confession of and repentance from sins
    • “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and You forgave the guilt of my sin” (Ps. 32:5). When David confessed, his joy in fellowship with the Lord was restored (Ps. 32:10-11; Ps. 51:4, 12).
  • Singing hymns and spiritual songs
    • “Singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 1:16).
  • Thanking God
    • When you thank God you are in His presence delighting in the good, loving character of the God who gives gifts to you. (1 Thess. 5:18)
  • Rejoicing
    • “Rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 4:4). We are commanded to choose joy. Joy is a logical reaction of a forgiven person to being close to his wonderful Savior. Joy also engenders a sense of delight and closeness to Him.
  • Thinking about who God is and what God has done for you
    • “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Thy wonderful works I will meditate” (Ps. 145:5). Meditating on a loved one–who he/she is and what he/she has done for us–is an exercise intimacy. It also increases intimate connection.
  • Thinking God’s thoughts
    • “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Ps. 139:17). Knowing the thoughts of another is intimate. Of the one in close fellowship with God David says, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:3).In the Bible, God has handed His thoughts to us in an open book, so to speak, providing we actually open it.
  • Being active in your local church.
    • Worshiping together, we have fellowship with Christ also (1 John 1:3).
    • The church gathered sings lovingly to the Lord together, “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
    • Service to one another builds the body of Christ to know and love Him (Eph 4:12).
  • Communion (with others in your local church).
    • In communion, we commune. That cultivates intimacy. We give thanks to Christ as we remember His nature, character, and what He did for us. Sharing the Lord’s Supper is part of fellowshipping with the Lord (1 Cor. 11:23-24, 33).

Obviously, God wants His children to enjoy intimacy with Him. It should be apparent that God has provided no lack of ways to be intimate with Him. What should also be apparent is that these godly disciplines focus on the practice of intimacy, not the feeling of it. Rather than try to generate feelings or a sense of union with God, faith acts on the knowledge that one is already in close relation to God who is always present.

I am so glad God gave us emotions so we can enjoy feelings of closeness and affection for Him! I am also glad that relating intimately to God does not depend upon feelings, which are so fickle. Rather, we can enjoy relating intimately with God by means He told us to use. Thanks be to God for giving us so many ways to enjoy Him!

(Series continues: A Personal Experience)


About Linda

Wifing, Singing, Studying, Counseling M.A. in Biblical Counseling Certified by Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
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