Think about any kind of relationship – between a husband and wife, or a boyfriend and girlfriend, between work colleagues, between friends, even between nations. In each of these a major factor in making the relationship a success is communication. Both parties in any strong relationship speak to each other and equally importantly, they listen to each other.
Christians are very blessed in that they have been brought back into a relationship with God. This relationship was originally broken when Adam sinned and fell. Through him, spiritual death and separation from God was passed on to all mankind. Before the fall Adam and Eve were in spiritual harmony with God; Genesis 3:8 implies that God walked and talked with them in the Garden of Eden. After the fall, they were cursed and thrown out of the garden. Graciously, at that time, God made a promise that a way would be made for sinners to return to him (Genesis 3:15). This was fulfilled through the sin atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ when he lived, died and rose again for his people.
A hugely important part of the Christian life is maintaining and enjoying this renewed relationship we have been given with our God, and, as with any other relationship, two-way communication is crucial.
God Speaks; We Listen
The way God has generally decreed that he will communicate with us is through his Word, the Bible. We should therefore put a great deal of time, care and effort into Bible reading. Whenever we open the Bible we should remind ourselves that it is the Word of God and is absolute truth. Stop and think how incredible that is! Remember though that just reading the Bible is not enough. We need to listen to what God is telling us. This means studying and exploring the Bible, praying over it, seeking to see and understand the great depths there are in it. It also means acting on what he tells us, being doers of the word not just hearers.
We Speak; God Listens
The way God has provided for us to speak with him is prayer. Prayer enables us, through the Lord Jesus, to come into the presence of God, and as such it should not be approached lightly, but with a sincere and humble attitude. Prayer is a way we can praise and worship God, giving thanks for his mercy and love toward us. Prayer is the way we can confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. It is the way we can tell God about our needs and troubles and ask him for help. It is the way we can intercede for others, bringing their needs, both spiritual and natural before him. It is the way we can ask him to lead us into his Word and help us to understand it. Have you ever thought, ‘I wish I could just sit down and talk that through with the Lord’? You can! Take it to him in prayer. When we do sincerely pray, God has promised to listen and indeed, he loves to hear his people pray, ‘the prayer of the upright is his delight.’ (Proverbs 15:8)
Close to God
Don’t be casual in your Bible reading and prayer. Don’t see it as a duty or chore to get done and out of the way as quickly as possible. Make time and space for it every day. William Tyndale used to spend up to 8 hours a day in Bible study and in prayer. Imagine what a blessing it would be to the church if we each did that! We know that communication is key to a strong natural relationship. So, why would it be any different with our spiritual relationship with God? And, why wouldn’t we want our relationship with God to be as strong as possible? Having this two-way communication with God is a privilege we should cherish and nurture. It is both a way to, and a sign of, spiritual health. Through it we have a close walk with God which brings joy and peace, and enables our lives to be truly fulfilled in him. As William Cowper wrote,
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.
[A00033 – 29/04/2017]