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God’s invitation has always been for us to draw close to Him.  We see right from creation, in the garden of Eden that in the cool of the evening that God would walk in the garden with Adam and Eve

Time and time again through the OT we see the invitation to draw near to God.

Enoch walked with God right into heaven in genesis 5

Abraham was called to follow God in Genesis 10 to a new land that God would show Him, and on the way he built altars as physical representations that God was there.

Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven in Genesis 28.

Moses encountered God in a burning bush and was invited up onto mt Sinai into the visible presence of God.  He also built a tent of meeting – a place he regularly went to pray where a physical cloud of God’s presence would come down in Exodus 33.

God called Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 in a time when hearing from God was incredibly rare, so rare that Samuel, a young child at the time, didn’t know who it was.  He was the first in a line of prophets who God sent to call His people home.

In Jeremiah it says several times Time and time again I have sent you all My servants the prophets, proclaiming: ‘Turn now, each of you from his evil way of life, and correct your actions. Do not go after other gods to serve them. Live in the land that I have given to you and your fathers.’ But you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me. Jeremiah 35:15

David – the greatest king of Israel, a man after God’s heart, shepherd, giant slayer, song writer communicates through the psalms the invitation of God and that we are created to worshp and draw near.   In Psalm 27:8 he writes When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

 

I grew up going to the catholic church, where it was more of a Sunday thing and a set of rules.  God seemed far far away on a cloud somewhere and wasn’t relevant to real life.  I didn’t think much about God between Sundays and if I did it was more about if I had been good enough or how many hail marys would that cost me at confession at easter time.   I never thought of God in the context of relationship or friendship.

It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I began to wonder if there was more to life, more to me and more to God.    The very first time I went to youth group my whole grid on God was shaken as I heard someone pray and I just knew he knew God and that God was real and that I could know Him too, in fact I knew I MUST know Him.  I had no idea what that looked like but that sense of I MUST KNOW GOD was so strong and real.  I went to their easter camp and on the Saturday afternoon the speaker said go find a space by yourself and talk to God.  I found a space by myself under a big tree and cried and cried because I knew I wasn’t good enough to talk to God, or go to heaven.  That night the speaker told us about jesus and how He made the way for us to come close to God and I went forward and gave my life to Jesus.   God had been drawing me and it wasn’t about how good I could be, He had made the way through the death of Jesus and my part to play was to say yes to His invitation.

It’s almost a chicken and the egg scenario… what came first… God invites us to draw near, we draw near, He draws near, He invites us to draw near, we respond and draw near, He draws near, He invites, we respond, He draws near.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done – God invites us to come close, to be His friend, to be His child.

Romans 5:8 says But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

So how do we do it?  How do we draw near to God?

We see in Matthew 6 that Jesus gave His disciples guidelines on how to make this real in their lives.  He says

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you [c]openly.

 

We can see keys in this verse that will help us develop a lifestyle of prayer and seeking God.

 

On Purpose – one of the key words in this passage is when.  We need to have a when.  We need to schedule our times with God and make it an on purpose regular commitment to carve out time with Him.   Our lives get so busy and filled up with work, extra curricular activities, people, families and I know that unless I have made it a regular rhythm to spend time with God it gets to the end of the day and its like ooops, hey God thanks for a great day you’re awesome snore snore snore….

The key is to find what time works for you.  Some people are morning people and delight in spending time with God in the morning.  Some people are NOT morning people but find that giving God that time as a sacrifice sets them up for the day.  Others do lunch with God and find time in their breaks to read the bible.  Some listen to the audio bible or a podcast on their commute to and from work, making their car a holy place.  Though once I have been having a worship time with God in the car and literally had to pull over because I burst into tears and was overcome by His presence!!!   I am a in the night hours person and have my reading time at night because that works for me and is a way of ending my day with God’s words filling my heart and mind.  Find what works for you and then in the immortal words of nike, just do it.  Do it on purpose and be intentional about it.

 

Place – Jesus instructed his disciples to go into their room, shut the door and spend time with God.   The idea is to have a meeting place, just like Moses did with his tent of meeting where he would go and meet with God face to face as friends.  There is something about having a room, or a chair or a place where you go and meet with God.   In the movie War Room the women turned their walk in wardrobes into prayer closets and created an intentional space to spend time with God.  It gives it the sense of this is my God meeting space, when I come here, when I sit in this chair or this room, I meet with God.

Susanna Wesley was a mother of nineteen children who recognized her need for quiet being with God. (No small feat when you have nineteen children and no netflix, movies, iphones or ipads ) To ensure she had quiet time, she would put her big hoop skirt over her head to create a private sanctuary. She trained her children not to interrupt her if they saw her with her skirt over her head!

 

Personal – each of us are wired in unique ways – to live and to connect with God.  How you pray and worship will look different from the person next to you.  There are so many creative ways to spend time with God and there is no one right way.  Prayer doesn’t have to be kneeling beside your bed with your hands clasped – unless that works for you!

In our high school girls connect group we’ve been doing Youth Alpha and one of the sessions was on prayer, followed the week later by a session on the bible.  Over those two nights we talked about the different ways that we pray and read the bible.  Some of them journal, write out prayers, draw prayers, do word studies, follow youversion bible plans, dance, lie on the floor, sing out loud, meditate, memorize… you get the picture.  Paul Saunders shared how he likes to go for walks and over the course of his walking God would show him some random object or thing outside and speak to him, like object lessons.

 

Persevere – I remember the first time I felt God in my bedroom – it was a completely unexpected moment – I knew that God was at church and at camp but that God in such a tangible way would be in my bedroom blew my mind.  I was just sitting in my bean bag, so you know, not on my knees with my hands clasped – I seriously really knew nothing when I became a Christian! – listening to some worship music a friend had given me.  All of a sudden it was like I felt an incredible peace and joy and love and all the things I had felt when I gave my life to Jesus.  I jumped up and jumped around and danced because I was just so happy.  My parents actually asked what was going on – I think because the music sounded um, joyful instead of um, more metal which had been my genre of choice.

But its not always like that.  Sometimes I’ll pray and worship and have that awareness of God’s presence, that peace and sense of Him that I’ve grown to recognise as God, but other times its like me talking to you right now in conversation.   Sometimes words jump off the pages, okay, I confess, the screen of my bible, like it was written just for me and other times  its more like just reading.  But I know that Jesus said that when I draw near to God, He draws near to me and rewards me for seeking Him.   I think that is why God uses the word SEEK.

Firstly as children of God and in fact as human beings God is always with us, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone. He holds everything in being. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.

But there is that shift when we consciously fix or focus our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God, when we turn aside from everything around us and the distractions of the world and life to focus on God and God alone.

(1 Chronicles 22:19)  “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The passion translation says: Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

We have to preserve in spending time with God.  Though we may not feel it every time we read the bible, pray and worship it is having a positive effect on our spirit and our life.  Time with God is never wasted.  Often what we store up in the silence comes back to us in the storm and we find that the things we have read in the past comes back to us at the exact right time we need it.

Every time we draw near to God, He draws near to us.

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