We are all meant to have a living and spiritually fulfilling relationship with God. When we don’t develop this type of relationship, we are missing the greatest blessing which can be known in this life and one of the chief purposes for which we were created.
One of the most richly blessed and profitable activities in which we, as Christians, can engage is to take time out from our busy schedules and to commune with God. Dictionary.com defines the word “commune” as follows:
(A) To converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.; to interchange thoughts and feelings.
(B) To be in intimate communication or rapport.
For a Christian, this means to spend quality time with God—not to give Him a laundry list of prayer requests or fit in a hurried “one-minute devotional” on the way out the door. It means that we choose to jump off of our ever-spinning treadmills and spend time enjoying His personal presence, quieting our souls before Him, letting Him fill us with his Spirit, and allowing Him to speak to our inmost being through His “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12), or, as the NIV translates this phrase, His “gentle whisper.” The celebrated French Archbishop Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) once remarked: “How rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak.”
Due to the fast pace of modern life, this style of relaxed relating to God has nearly become a lost art, but it is needed now every bit as much as it was in calmer eras; in some ways, it is actually needed more. Here are some thoughts about this vital and life-giving practice.
(1) God desires to have fellowship with us, and invites us to draw near to Him for this purpose.
I Corinthians 1:9 says: “God is faithful, by who ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The theme of entire Bible is God’s fervent desire to have a relationship with the highest, most spiritual, and, thereby, most similar to himself of all His creatures: Humankind. Since the Lord has offered to be our source of spiritual life, our strength, and our guide as we live out our calling on this earth, there is nothing more important in all of life for us to learn than how to draw near to Him in genuine spiritual fellowship and communion.
(2) God specifically calls those who are to be leaders to have special times of interacting and communing with him.
In Exodus 25:22 God invited Moses to “meet” with him in a specific place so that he could “commune” with him. Moses was one of the greatest leaders in the Old Testament not because there was something special about him, but because he was willing to spend time in God’s presence communicating and conversing with Him, and receiving instructions about his very important service for God.
The Hebrew word for “meet” (“yaad”) means to make an “appointment…to meet at a stated time” (Strong’s), or to set a time and place to meet together. The word “commune” (Hebrew: “dabar”) means to converse or communicate. It is God saying, “Can we talk?”
(3) God has a very hard time getting appointments to meet with us.
All too often, His invitations go unanswered, even when he is ready to impart a heavenly blessing to those whom He is calling. Proverbs 1:23-24 describes such a spurned invitation when it says: “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called and ye have refused.”
(4) Busyness and being locked into our own personal agendas can often keep us from God.
From the very beginning of time, God has desired to interact with man, but most people are usually too consumed by their own agendas or too easily distracted by earthly concerns to spend quality time with Him. Many believers lead grossly underdeveloped Christian lives because, as Jesus reported in Luke 8:14, their schedules and hearts have become so “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life” that they “bring no fruit to perfection.”
(5) We have many “excuses” not to spend time meeting with God, but few of them are valid.
Jesus addressed this issue head-on when he told the Parable of the Great Banquet. He had been teaching about people who were invited to a feast and one of his listeners remarked: “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15). This was a very true statement, but Jesus used this opportunity to make an important point through the following illustration:
A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. At the time for the banquet he sent his servants to say to those who had been invited ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused. And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ (Luke 14:16-20).
What do you think about these excuses? Are they legitimate? Or do they sound like people who turn down a great opportunity to be spiritually fed because they simply have other priorities? Do they sound like us?
(6) Millions of Christians suffer from spiritual malnutrition simply because they do not come to the great feast which God has provided for them.
God, through the salvation of Jesus Christ, has prepared a rich spiritual feast for the whole human race. It is filled with incomparable blessings such as love, joy, peace, truth, wisdom, purpose, comfort, guidance and overcoming spiritual strength. Strangely, only a small number take part in this feast. Jesus notes this sad fact in Matthew 22:14 when he says: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Out of all the people on the earth, only a “few” make knowing God intimately and experiencing the abundant and transformational life of Jesus Christ a top priority in their lives (Matthew 7:14).
(7) The benefits of spending quality personal time with God are immeasurable, and far exceed almost every other activity in our lives.
Proverbs Chapter Three lists numerous blessings which flow from a God-focused and God-powered life, some of them being: “length of days, and long life” (v.3), “peace,” i.e. “inward and outward tranquility” (v. 3, Amplified Bible), “favor” with God (v.4), “good understanding” of how life works (v. 4), guidance from God regarding the right path for one’s life (v. 6), blessed spiritual and physical health (v.8), success in one’s life’s work (vv.7-10), and happiness (vv. 13, 17-18) to name a few.
(8) No other use of time in our lives can provide blessings of this quality, magnitude, or value.
The writer of Proverbs testifies: “For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her” (Proverbs 14-15).
(9) Although it can be difficult to find times for deep and sustained interaction with God, it can be done if we make it a priority to do so.
Pastor and Christian writer Francis Frangipane says: “God has given everyone enough time to seek him. It is there…Those who would find God find time.”
(10) Amazing things can happen when we break through our cluttered schedules and give God time to speak to us.
One great example of this is David Wilkerson, a pastor from rural Pennsylvania who one night decided to turn off his television set and go into his study to pray and commune with God. While he was doing this, the Lord called his attention to a newspaper article telling about some young gang members in New York City who had recently been arrested. “I want you to go and help those boys,” he sensed the Lord telling him, and despite having no experience whatsoever ministering to inner city gangs, he drove to New York by faith.
The rest, as they say, is history. Wilkerson went on to found Teen Challenge, one of the most successful Christian recovery and discipleship programs in the world; Teen Challenge has established 200 facilities in America and 1,000 offshoots in other countries. Wilkerson then started World Challenge, a missionary training and relief agency that ministers to needy people across the globe, and Times Square Church in New York City, a flourishing inner city church with a large multinational congregation, a Sunday school for 1,500 children, and forty different outreaches to the needy. All this came about because of one man deciding to give God some of his time. If you and I spent time with God like David Wilkerson did, just imagine what the Lord could accomplish through us!
(11) If we are going to find time to meet with God in genuine spiritual communion, we will have to purpose it, prioritize it and fight through a host of obstacles to be successful.
It will not happen accidentally. Are you up for the challenge? Consider these as possible tactics for winning the war against overcrowded schedules: (a) Plan some regular times when you will purpose to lay everything else aside and meet with God. (b) Look at this meeting as a privilege – a personal audience with Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe. That is exactly what communing with God is! Is there ever a more important person with whom you could schedule a meeting? (c) Budget the amount of time that you spend on electronic entertainment. If people were to spend half as much time with God’s Book as they do with Facebook, or half as much time beholding the Lord as they do beholding their cell phones, we would be experiencing a major Christian revival in our country at this very moment. (d) Make sure that you value God’s vision more than television, and being moved by God more than being moved by movies. Entertainment is no substitute for genuine attainment. (e) Begin with short time periods of communion with God, and build toward longer times. (f) Diversify the things that you do during your times with God. These can include prayer of all sorts, praising God for who He is, thanking God for blessings and answered prayers, confessing your sins and asking for forgiveness, seeking specific guidance, studying the Bible, silent and listening meditation, enjoying music that causes you to worship, strategizing with God about self-improvement and world-improvement projects, and asking Him what new things He might like you to do.
(12) The important thing is that you are abiding in God’s presence and building an intimate relationship with Him.
A host of other benefits almost without number can flow from our time with God, including renewed spiritual strength, a more peaceful soul, preparation for daily duties and responsibilities and specific guidance regarding important decisions. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” as James 4:8 (ESV) says, and the good results can be endless.
How Moses Learned to Meet with God.
One reason why Moses became a great leader was that he made a special effort to meet face to face with God. He gave God “face-time.” The following passage tells us how this happened:
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent.
As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
DISCUSSION QUESTION: What can we learn from Moses’ example that we can apply to our lives?