Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. Matthew 26:40
You can no more have intimacy with God without prayer than you can have intimacy in marriage without communication. Though you may have never thought of the two in relationship to each other, what makes both meaningful is much the same. Success in both is dependent upon the quality of your relationship with the object of your affection. When you can't communicate with your husband or wife--for whatever reason, your relationship rapidly disintegrates. Love grows cold. Warm memories are just that--recollections of the past, not realities in the present.
Prayer is communication, and the secret of intimacy in your spiritual life is being able to share your thoughts, your heart, and your feelings without fear of rejection. What are the enemies of intimacy? There are several, and they apply both to your mate and to your relationship with the Lord. For the next three minutes, however, I'd like to focus in particular on your relationship with God.
Enemy #1: Busyness. This is undoubtedly the chief foe which turns our good intentions to well-worn excuses and leaves us feeling guilty. Yes, we know we ought to read the Bible and pray, but we are too busy. And what's the solution? In a word, priorities. We find time for what we really consider important. In my personal life, I've found that the only way to turn intentions into forward steps is to set the clock alarm thirty minutes earlier and discipline myself to take this time.
"But won't that leave me tired out?" No, to the contrary, you'll find that you have greater energy, be more focused, and accomplish far more than if you slept for another thirty minutes.
Enemy #2: Attitude. Whose attitude? Yours. It's quite amazing how your personal relationships with others also affect your relationship with God. Anger, bitterness, harsh feelings and a lot of other negative feelings don't put you in the mood to bow your heart and say, "Good morning, Lord. It's me and I'm not very happy right now." But pouring out your heart to God, telling Him how you feel, will not only change your attitude but then create the environment whereby God lets you know what your response should be to what bothers you.
Enemy #3: Distractions. "I'm burned out!" writes a friend of Guidelines, who explains, "I go to work early and go home late because of overtime work. I'm beat when I reach home and my quiet time often becomes really quiet time because I'm dead asleep." Drowsiness isn't the only distraction. If you haven't discovered this, you will. It happens to everyone. As soon as you bow your head and start to pray, the phone will ring. Your two kids--the ones who play tirelessly together hour after hour--will start a war. Or--boom! Just like that! --you have instant recall and think of what you didn't get done yesterday or you remember the phone call, a pretty important one too, that you didn't return.
Is there a solution to distractions? If your mind wanders, pray out loud. If something comes to mind which is important, stop long enough to jot down a memo which serves as a reminder later, but don't give up.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ challenged Peter, saying, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak" (Matthew 26:41). It's still true.
Intimacy with God doesn't come by going to church for an hour on Sunday, or flinging a prayer towards heaven as a basketball player hurls the ball towards the hoop hoping to win the game in the last three seconds of play. It's based on a relationship which can be sustained only through communication. With God we call it prayer. Find out about prayer. It will change your life, your attitude, and your relationship with God.
Resource reading: Matthew 26:36-45