Do you ever feel that you are praying to some mystical, distant, non-personal being, almost like the way God is represented in a sci-fi movie? Have you ever wondered what you had to do to cultivate intimacy with God? Have you ever thought, "I wish God would just lay it out straight? I wish He would give me a few steps to take - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5."
I stumbled upon Proverbs 2 as a young adult and found out that God has given us a divine prescription for deepening our relationship with Him. He really does give us the steps. He gives us five conditions to understand the fear (reverence) of the Lord and to draw close to Him.
On the morning I started to receive revelation about this chapter, I began spending a lot of time figuring out what those five conditions were. I already knew that spiritual intimacy develops progressively, but as I continued to focus on seeking the knowledge of God, I would discover more and more. I soon learned that the five conditions listed in Proverbs 2:1-4 are fairly simple. Though they are costly, they are not confusing. Here's what I discovered.
We need to see the value of meditating on the Word so we regularly schedule time for it. Without this aspect of God's grace, we will never grow substantially--not in 10 weeks or 10 years. My use of time is as serious to me as anything in my life. When others ask me to do something else during the time I've blocked out for prayer and meditation, I usually say, "No, I have an appointment. I'm busy." I consider time with God as being a real appointment, and I don't want to neglect Him or keep Him waiting. I realize God is more patient with me than others with whom I have appointments, and I know He will forgive me for skipping our appointed time together. Having said this, I value our times of intimate communion, and I don't want to miss them. He is more important to me than any other person I may need to meet with.
A gentle word of warning is in order here. Weak meditation on the Scriptures eventually leads to both weak courage and weak obedience. Can you and I really afford a life of weak meditation that bears the bitter fruit of weak courage and weak obedience? No. No. No. This is an hour when God's people must be strong in courage and equally strong in careful obedience. A life with a strong priority on meditation in the Scriptures is absolutely vital.
A Teachable Spirit
Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding... (Prov. 2:2, NKJV)
An inclined, attentive ear and an applied heart speak of a teachable, moldable spirit. Obedience and meditation are important if we want to experience intimacy with the Lord, but a teachable spirit is also essential.
I've met a number of very passionate people who had stubborn spirits and were not teachable before God or man. That's deadly because the absence of a teachable spirit will hinder us in terms of growing in the intimate knowledge of God. An unteachable, "know-it-all" spirit will quench the Holy Spirit, and eventually our spiritual hunger will wane and die out.
We are to be teachable, to have the patient hearts of learners. Being teachable is actually a greater challenge for some Christians than being obedient or scheduling time to meditate. Isaiah 66:2 says, "...To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word" (NAS). The Lord is looking for the heart of a learner. If we have teachable spirits, the Lord can bring us into any truth we are lacking.
A Revelation of the Knowledge of God
Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding... (Prov. 2:3, NKJV)
Crying out in this way means actually praying with intensity to receive more wisdom and insight into the beauty of God's personhood. We are exhorted many times in the Scriptures to cry out for a deeper revelation of the knowledge of God's personality.
Paul's first prayer in the great Ephesian epistle was for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God to fill the believers in Ephesus (Eph. 1:17). If it is something we really desire, we will not rest or stop crying out until we receive it. If you go without asking for it, you will end up living without it!
An Abandoned Heart Searching for Divine Treasures
If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures... (Prov. 2:4, NKJV)
What if someone guaranteed you that a million dollar check was rolled up tightly and hidden somewhere inside an old, abandoned house, and it would be all yours if you found it? Am I right in supposing you wouldn't leave a board or a brick unturned until you found it, no matter how long it took? You would be there searching before and after your regular day's work. You would rearrange your social calendar. You would reset priorities and make all sorts of sacrifices until you found that hidden treasure because you'd made up your mind you were not going to live without it.
That same principle applies in your walk with God: Whatever you can live without in God, you may often go without. Whatever truth you decide you cannot live without, you will eventually obtain (see Matt. 7:7,8). If there is truth in God you absolutely refuse to live without, something you are willing to apply all your heart and mind to obtain, you will have it in due time, whether it's in one year or 20.
Many people have attended college and graduate school for eight or ten years or more, laboring for degrees that are the prize possessions in their professions. Their dedication and perseverance were considered normal. If an individual with that degree of determination in God ever becomes insatiably hungry for Jesus, he or she will sacrifice everything to gain deeper knowledge of the Pearl of great price.
It's very valid to pray for spiritual passion, for consuming zeal, for a release of insatiable hunger in your heart, for holy thoughts and godly desires. It's valid to pray that you might see and feel what the Father sees and feels when He beholds His dear Son. It's valid to cry out for intimacy with the Person who feeds you from His own hand, the Person who guards your soul, the Person who gives you wisdom and revelation, the Person from whose mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
The Apostle Paul called Jesus Christ "the wisdom of God...in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3)." Once again we're brought full circle: We receive more discernment and understanding of Jesus by pursuing and cultivating intimacy with Jesus.
When you pray, do you feel as if you're trying to communicate with some non-personal Influence somewhere out in space? Begin talking to a real Person seated upon a real throne. Begin spending time in His presence and cultivating an intimate relationship with Him. He Himself is what you and I need. Not religion. Not power. Not a greater ministry. Our answer is Jesus, the Source of all spiritual & natural riches.
No, God is not going to hook us all up to "a Holy Ghost I.V." If we really want to know Him, there are conditions to be met: (1) a commitment to obedience, (2) a life of meditation on the Word, (3) a teachable spirit, (4) prayer for revelation of God and (5) an abandoned heart committed to searching for divine treasures. If we are willing to meet those conditions through the years and make each of them a life commitment, we will discover the Treasure of all treasures: the glorious one, Jesus Christ and an ever-deepening intimacy with Him.