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-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>
Editor: Elvi Glass

Prayer-School Course #22

Creating A Culture For Answered Prayer

Lesson 2

Intimacy With God and Answered Prayers

By Teresa Seputis

In our previous lesson, we covered two reasons why prayers are not answered even when faith is present. Let's look at them again, briefly, from James 4:2b-5 (NKJV):

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?

In other words, the two things are

  1. Selfish and self-serving motivations for prayer (praying amiss)
  2. Praying without having a friendship with God

Note that James is addressing saved people here, not unsaved ones. So when he tells them that they are "God's enemies" he is not saying they are unsaved and going to Hell. He is saying that they are in love with this world and the things/concerns of this world more than they love God, and this puts them into contention with God. They have not developed the friendship and intimacy with God that needs to be there for effective prayer. God remains their Father, but they are in an "estranged relationship" with Him. They are not going to get very far in their requests because the relationship is strained.

Think of it in the natural. If a teen is very close to their dad and they need money for their High School prom (to buy a dress if a girl or to take their date out to eat if a boy), the chances are very good that their dad will give them the money they want for the prom. Why? Because their dad is motivated by love for their child and he sincerely wants them to have a very wonderful time on this special occasion.

On the other hand, if the relationship is strained.. if the teen has not spoken civilly to their dad for the past year, if they fight all the time, if the teen disrespects their father and tells him that they hate him, or if they have gone out of their way to hurt his feelings... they probably are not going to get very far in asking their dad for an expensive favor. It works just like that with God too... you can't be at odds with God and then expect Him to answer your prayers.

Effective prayer flows out of intimacy with God. When we are in deep friendship with God, we are predisposed to obey Him because we love Him (John 14:15). When we are in intimacy with God, then the Holy Spirit is actively at work in us, renewing our minds and changing our thinking patterns. Romans 12:2 puts it this way, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." When you are in a place of intimacy or friendship with God, Romans 12:2 happens in you. Your thinking and your desires change so that you are not very likely to ask amiss. So, developing intimacy with God really does take care of both of the problems stated in James 4:2-5.

Moving Into Friendship With God

So, how do we develop intimacy with God? There are three primary areas where we can begin to foster an intimacy relationship with Him:

I am going to touch on these briefly in this series, but we will not have time to develop them fully. (If you would like some in-depth teaching on developing intimacy with God, please consider taking the fee-based SD101 class that GodSpeak periodically offers. It will take you into a very in-depth study on developing intimacy with God. More information about this can be found at http://www.godspeak.net/support/sd101.html).

When we worship God, we invite His presence. Psalm 22:3 (KJV) says, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." The more modern version (NKJV) puts it this way, "But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel." In other words, when we praise and worship God, He actually "shows up" -- He inhabits (dwells in) our praises. He sits down on His throne in front of us so we can worship and adore Him. If you want to build intimacy with God, you are going to need to get around Him. You have probably heard the saying, usually reserved for the dating world, that "long distance relationships don't work." That is also true as we build relationship and intimacy with God. You need to come into His presence to do that, and sincere heartfelt worship is a good way to come into His presence. So I encourage you to find yourself some worship tapes or CDs that work well for you and then to use them on a daily basis. Spend time worshipping God every day, not just Sundays at Church.

A commitment to obey Him is critical in moving into intimacy with God. Jesus said that we can't be His friends if we won't obey Him and do what He says. John 15:14 says, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." The implication is obvious -- He does not consider us as His friends if we don't obey Him. So if you want friendship with God, it is going to have to be on His terms... He has to be the Boss. He has to be the senior member of this partnership. He is the one who is in charge, and we are obligated to do whatever He tells us to do. We don't obey Him out of fear or concern about punishment for disobeying. That thought never even crosses our minds. Rather, we obey Him because we love Him very much and we earnestly desire to please Him, to make Him happy, to cause Him pleasure and delight by doing whatever He asks us to do, and by doing it with a good attitude.

Of course, there will be a learning curve as we learn what it means to walk out His lordship in every area of our lives. But that is ok. If we invite Him into the process, He will teach us what it means and how to do it. And He will empower us to be successful at obeying Him.

Finally, we need to spend time with Him if we want to develop intimacy with Him. In the natural we build relationships by spending time with each other and getting to know each other. God, who is all-knowing, already knows us. But we need to get to know Him. We need to find out how He feels about things. We need to learn His likes and dislikes. We need to hang around Him and observe Him enough that we can predict how He is likely to act in a given situation. We can do this through prayer, through studying the bible, and through worship. We can also do this through inviting Him into some of our everyday life activities. If you are going to take the dogs for a walk, invite Him to come along and to speak to you on the walk. If you are going to watch a movie or sporting event, invite Him to watch it with you, to make you aware of His presence and in tune with His will as you do this activity. Invite Him to show you things about your activity or event that displease Him and get rid of the things that He doesn't like. Ask Him to show you what pleases Him in these activities and then intentionally do more of those actions that you know please Him. If you are reading a book, invite Him to break in and speak to you about it any time He desires. If you read an interesting point, you might want to stop and ask Him what He thinks about that point. Interact with God. Spend time with Him.

Experts tell us that we spend the most time on the things we consider the most important to us. And we spend little time and energy on the things that we don't consider very important. How much of your time are you giving to God? What are you communicating to Him by that? E.g, are you telling Him that He is important or unimportant to you by the amount of time you give Him in your day to day life?

-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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