Prayer is two-way communication—it is a dialogue through which we speak to God and listen to Him—generating a relationship in the now, one that is present and continuous. Our communication with our heavenly Father gives life to our relationship with Him.
When this communication ceases, we stop advancing in our knowledge of Him. At that point, we start merely assuming things about God, because we have set aside our way of knowing Him. Our lack of communication disconnects us from the Lord, and the relationship begins to die. Moreover, even if we frequently talk to God, if we don’t take the time to listen to what He is saying, we are not really praying, either, because we are really just speaking a monologue.
Communication with God is not based so much on what we say, but on what we hear from Him. And we can hear our heavenly Father only when we have a close, intimate, face-to-face relationship with Him. Certain people claim to hear God, but the fruit of their intimacy with Him is almost nonexistent. “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). The proof of having heard from God are the fruits that manifest His power, His love, and a radical change in our hearts.
Is it possible to have such a close relationship with God? Yes, it is possible—and God wants you to have it! But this is not something that happens immediately. Like any relationship, it must be cultivated for it to grow. The first thing a Christian must do to develop a close relationship with God is to give priority to communication with Him. In fact, the kingdom of God is built upon the structure of relationship.
This means that our interactions with God can’t be mechanical. It is impossible to pray from a position that is not a place of relationship. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). He came to teach us a relational theology, so that we would be able to draw near to God without reserve. He demonstrated this purpose at the very moment of His death on the cross, when the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. (See Matthew 27:50–51; Mark 15:37–38.) Until then, this veil had prohibited people from entering the Holy of Holies, with the exception of the high priest, who could enter only once a year on the Day of Atonement. The tearing of the veil by heaven signified that from that moment, the way to the presence of God would remain open forever. Since that time, cultivating a relationship with God through continual communication has been the responsibility of the believer.
Many people have needs only God can meet, but they don’t want to bother with establishing a relationship with Him; consequently, they treat Him like a “miracle vending machine.” They just want to put in their “money” and have what they desire dispensed to them. But God doesn’t work like that. On certain occasions, because of His mercy, He will respond to people’s prayers regardless of whether they have a close relationship with Him; but it is likely that the next time they seek Him for something, He will not respond. More than meeting needs, He wants to have a continuing relationship with us. For this reason, Jesus’s beloved disciple wrote, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). If the relationship exists, God will take care of all our needs. (See Matthew 6:33.)
The life of Jesus is an example of continuous prayer. For instance, we read,
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Prayer kept Jesus in a close relationship with His Father. Accordingly, all of Jesus’s miracles flowed from His prayer life. Jesus knew that the Father wouldn’t leave any of His Son’s prayers unanswered. (See, for example, John 11:42.) It will be the same for you, if you continually maintain a relationship with God; all your needs will be supplied and you will not lack anything.
A relationship with God that doesn’t include intimacy and quality time with Him is superfluous and based on our convenience alone. We must put our fellowship with Him first in our lives. He wants our total, undivided attention. In today’s world, we are often so busy doing things that we forget that our relationship with God is more important than anything else. We are so occupied even with ministry activities that we forget that our number one priority is our time with Him. Today, Jesus is calling us to have a close relationship with the Father. We must go back to prayer! We must renew our communion with God!
Thought: To develop a close relationship with God, we must invest quality time in prayer.