To be an effective person of prayer, you must have a relationship with the One to whom you pray. Above all else, prayer is an opportunity to enjoy intimacy with God. Prayer is all about a relationship with God the Father, and He longs to have a relationship with you.
To know God is to realize that you are in a relationship, a covenant relationship with Him. You are His child; He is your Father. You are His bride; He is your Groom.
Jesus warns us that we can do His works and yet not be known of God. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:21-23, NIV).
How can you develop an intimate relationship with God?
A. SPEND TIME WITH THE LORD DAILY.
In any relationship, the way to develop that relationship is to spend time together. Intimate relationships are born by learning to trust. To be an intimate friend of God, you need to be able to pour out your heart to Him, sharing with Him the most intimate details of your life—your hopes, your dreams, and your very heart.
A prayer life that consists only of petition and intercession can lead to anger and frustration. If prayers are not answered as fast as you want, you can become bitter and resentful toward God. However, if you grow to know God, a delayed answer will only be an opportunity to pray again. Spending time with the Lord is how you come to truly know His ways and not just His acts. Knowing God leads to our resting in the assurance of His ultimate goodness, in spite of our circumstances.
B. STUDY HIS WORD AND PRAY.
As you study God’s Word daily, you will soon get to know His will, His ways, and His heart. When you understand how He moves in the lives of people, you can pray prayers that are in line with His will. Psalm 119 is a wonderful passage to meditate upon, as it describes to us the rewards of studying His Word.
"He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life." William Law
C. AS WE WORSHIP HIM, WE DRAW CLOSER TO HIM.
In worship, we are lavishing all our attention and affections on Him. A good worship time refreshes and revives you. It speaks to your spirit the truth about God and His power. Worship will awaken and sharpen your spirit to be in tune with the will of the Lord.
D. TRUE WORSHIP LEADS TO HEARTFELT REPENTANCE.
Ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal to you anything wicked in it. The Lord is faithful to show us our motivations and secret desires. First John 1:8-9 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
E. PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
Practice just “being with God.” Enjoy His company. Sitting with the Lord in silence can sometimes bring deep communion and refreshment to your spirit, soul, and body. An earthly example of this sort of “being” would be a loving couple who has been married for years. They do not have to say a word to each other, yet with a glance or a smile they can share deep intimacy.
You don’t always have to be talking to God. You don’t always have to expect profound insights. In prayer and quietness you can just enjoy being with Him.
Part of practicing the presence of God is understanding that He is with you always. The Bible assures us that this is a truth, not just a feeling. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
GENERAL HELPS FOR EFFECTIVE PRAYER
• Have on hand your Bible, a pen, and a notebook.
• If possible, find a quiet place to pray. When this is not possible, God will still bless your prayer time in the midst of distractions.
• Become accustomed to periods of silence, and don’t be afraid of pauses.
• If you find your mind wandering during prayer:
1. Pray out loud.
2. Read scriptures out loud. If you don’t know what to pray, then pray the prayers of the Bible; there are dozens of prayers that you can take as your own. For example, pray the Psalms. They are songs, and perhaps they will reach the heart more easily when heard by the ear.
3. Ask the Lord to protect you as you pray.
4. Declare that you are determined to pray.
5. If there is a pressing need on your mind, submit it to the Lord in prayer. Write down any distractions that cause your mind to wander, and submit them to the Lord.
6. Stand up. Walk. Change your posture. If you find yourself dozing off regularly during your devotions and prayer times, stand up and walk around the room.
7. Ask the Lord if this is the best time for you to be praying. Some people are morning people, and others prefer to talk to the Lord at night. Find the time that works best for you.
May a richer, more effective prayer life fill your heart with peace and joy, and may the strength and beauty you find in your time with your heavenly Father spill over to bless everyone around you.
General Conference Ministerial Association