We’re almost a week into the new year, which means the shine is probably already starting to wear off those resolutions that were going to help you become a better you in 2017. Considering less than ten percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, one could argue that you’re simply ahead of the curve if your resolve has already begun to fade. But while it would be great to exercise more, eat right, or fulfill many of the other aspirations people hold each year as the calendar turns, it’s unlikely that most of our lives would change dramatically were we to succeed. However, there’s one resolution common to many Christians for which that’s not the case.
One of the most common goals believers have for the new year is to spend more time alone with God. Whether that takes the form of more time in prayer, reading the Bible every day, or paying more attention in church, dedicating more time to just connect with the Father really can make a profound difference in the way we experience this life. So, given that potential blessing, why is it that so many of us fail time after time to follow through on our good intentions?
In a recent First 15, Craig Denison included a quote from Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God that points to the answer. Brother Lawrence wrote, “I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of GOD. For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth of the centre of my soul as much as I can; and while I am so with Him I fear nothing; but the least turning from Him is insupportable.” Craig followed that quote by remarking, “The more we grow in our knowledge of the profound union that exists between our spirit and the Holy Spirit, the more we will discover our great need of this tangible, constant presence.”
It is impossible to truly meet the Father without becoming painfully aware of just how much we need him
It is impossible to truly meet the Father without becoming painfully aware of just how much we need him, of just how fulfilling it is to simply be in his presence. Ironically, I think that truth is at the heart of why so many of us fail to meet with him consistently. Unless we, like Brother Lawrence, live in constant communion with the Lord, we can’t help but realize how insufficient the rest of our existence is without him. To abide in his presence, however, requires that he be our first priority and the primary lens through which we view the whole of our lives. If we give God room to take his rightful place as king, it means giving up the chance to fill that role ourselves. That’s a sacrifice most of us struggle to make consistently.
As a result, when we spend time in God’s presence, we are left with a choice: allow him to be Lord of every aspect of our lives or meet with him without making that sacrifice, thereby experiencing the pangs of longing for something more when that time ends and we attempt to take back that throne ourselves. Unfortunately, most of us will eventually decide that the pain of leaving his presence is just too much to bear and either reduce the time we spend with him or stop it all together. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, it’s one we will have to make unless we are willing to grant him his rightful place as Lord of every breath we take in this life.
So if you’re already finding it increasingly difficult to keep up that consistent time alone with God, perhaps the reason isn’t related to your schedule as much as your heart. If that’s the case, set aside whatever reading material or devotional plans you might be using and, instead, dedicate that time to simply asking God to help you understand if he is your king for fifteen minutes or twenty-four hours. The answer to that question will go a long way towards helping you have a more vibrant and fulfilling relationship with the Lord.