I’ll never forget the feeling of fear that suddenly washed over me as I stood next to a friend of mine when our Bishop casually asked him “So, where have you seen Jesus today?” What would I say if the Bishop asks me the same question? I was a brand-new Christian and had no idea how to answer a question like that! To be perfectly honest, I was embarrassed – Jesus was far, far from my mind at that time. In fact, I don’t think Jesus was in any of my thoughts during the entire week!
The incident made me wonder, do other men really think of Jesus or God during a normal day? If so, how and why? You could say that it was a starting point of looking a bit more seriously at my spiritual life. I’d plugged into a men’s bible study & was slowly learning, but my daily life seemed separate from God. When I asked my pastor about this he simply said that my prayer life is a major part of my relationship with Jesus. Prayer is my way of talking with Him. I’d read some prayers, and they seemed sort of churchy and not very personal. Over time, with practice and asking a lot of questions I developed my own way of praying that was personal. It took a lot of practice and restarts as the habit was not yet developed. I found it easy to skip or more often, just forgot about it. Yet I stuck in there determined to do something to improve my spiritual life. It WORKED!
Fast forward now to present time and all throughout the day I’m in constant conversation with Jesus. By that I mean I am always praying ahead of meetings, during meetings, giving thanks, commenting on my day, my task list, my gratitude, my challenges and anything else that comes to mind. Much like we’d have casual conversation with a friend we’re spending the day with, I’d be speaking my thoughts to Jesus. More than a one-way conversation though, I also am looking and listening for His presence in my daily life. I can often see His face as I am kind to a stranger & see the grateful response, or when I listen to a song and feel a connection in my heart to the words. Reading devotions, the Bible, listening to Christian podcasts is another way that Jesus speaks to me.
This sounds so effortless, and often is in reality. Yet there are plenty of times when I pray in earnest and fail to hear quickly from Him. Questions that I submit seem at times to just sit out there, dusty with no reply. Abiding in Jesus is not always an easy discipline to practice! Like all relationships our choices, actions, behaviors and disciplines factor into how close we stay with Christ.
When I have unconfessed sin in my life it becomes a barrier to intimacy with Jesus. Likewise, when I choose ‘My Way’ in place of the path of a true disciple I will actually be stepping away from the relationship. My fervent prayer and petitions can be hindered when I insist on doing things my way. For example, Sinclair Ferguson writes in “Christ Alone” that “The believer rests our life on the Love of Christ, laying ourselves out for Him”. This means submission to His Word, and sacrifice in obedience. Practically, we must adjust our way to do what He asks, as He asks. When we yield to God, making Christ Lord of our life, the doors to communication begin to open.
Many men find themselves alone in thought, feeling disconnected spiritually. I’ve been there many times. How then, do we climb out of our current circumstance to connect/reconnect spiritually to Christ & benefit from a deep relationship with Him? The image that leaps to mind is that we must seek or find Him. Like Jesus is not ever present or the Holy Spirit is not already here! It is our disconnect that makes it feel this way, and when we determine to meet Jesus we can be amazed at the fact that He is HERE now! Jesus met me at the point of my prayers, and I pray you too will experience this deeper relationship with Him!
Psalm 141:1 says it well for me: “I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me; give ear to my voice when I call to you.” So far, so good – I ask God to ‘come quickly to me’. Wow, doesn’t this sound a bit arrogant, demanding God come quickly to me? The rest of the Psalm sets a better tone in verses 2-4:
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.
3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not turn my heart to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with those who work iniquity;
do not let me eat of their delicacies.
Jesus is here, He can hear our voice.