Beth Moore - Practical Steps to Intimacy With God - Part 1
Here's what I want to do in the coming moments. This huge hindrance is that many of us feel like we're not getting a lot out of our time with God. What's that supposed to look like? For some of us, you're, like, "You know, I can't even get through 15 minutes of prayer without running out of things to say. I mean, like, it's just me talking, I don't know if he's even listening. I don't know how it's even connecting. I don't sense anything at all and it's just like, I'm just gonna give up 'cause I don't think anything's happening anyway". And can I see anybody's hand if you've ever had that go through your mind? Because we've all been there at one time or another.
And so there's this disconnect so often between our theology and our reality. And the Word of God testifies to something different than that. That is what I came to in my 20s as I was still living in that cycle of defeat. It was just getting a little further in time between ditches, but I was still doing the same thing. May not have been exactly the same action, but it was the same defeat of heart, the same defeat of mind, and I thought, "How in the world do you get out of this? How do you connect the theology of God's Word into the reality of the life or is it just theology and it doesn't have anything to do with the pavement of planet Earth"? But the Word of God shows over and over again that it does connect and how is it that that happens?
And so here's what I'm going to do today. I'm going to do it in an effort to give you ideas, not to imitate identically because that would not be the point of it. What I wanna walk you through because I think that this is what people want so desperately from time to time, what does your approach look like? How do you get traction in your own relationship with God? And perhaps that would give me some ideas. And so there are a couple of deals we have to make before we go further. You have to promise me that these are the kinds of questions you're gonna ask of other people. So that you're sharing with one another: "This is what I really find works for me. This is what has not worked for me". Because your individual relationship gets to be its own thing with Jesus. He'll shape that with you in a way that is very, very personal to you so you wanna let him do that.
So what I'm hoping to be able to do is that in telling you some things that have worked for me, some ways that my relationship with him has been alive and really active, that some of these ideas where one is, like, "No, I don't think that's really the way it's gonna work for me," but something else is just like, "I think I'm gonna try that". Or it may be that it just gives you an idea of something else altogether but it gets your mind where it's rolling. It gets that soil turned over where something fresh can grow. Because I'm gonna tell you this. To this day, if you wanna know one of my very favorite things to do, it would be to sit at a table with a pretty seasoned saint and get them to tell me what their day-to-day relationship looks like with Jesus.
I love to hear that kind of thing. I wanna hear what are you reading right now? What's really, really lighting the fire of the Spirit in you? I love to know that kind of thing. So I need you to understand something. I don't do this as an example to you because I don't have an exemplary relationship. What I have is just that whatever I can offer you, I want to give you. If anything about it would just make you think, "Okay, I think I might try that. I think that idea could be activated in my life". Here's what I'll tell you I can bring to the mix. Not an exemplary relationship, but I have a very lively relationship with him. He is the thing that I most want to be part of. Whatever he's doing and my prayer time is very alive.
So I wanna share it with you because I do feel like, for a lot of us and I have been there, I was there for a lot of years, it's anything but alive. I mean, it's a discipline and we're doing it but it certainly doesn't feel alive and it certainly does not feel life-changing to me in any way. So that is where I wanna go with you. That I can tell you, it is a lively relationship. And if I've got something to share with you out of that, I want so much to do it.
I wanna read you Psalm 19:7 through 14. I'm reading it out of the CSB and, oh, let it sink in because if you need a little motivation for being in the Word of God and that's what this is about, it's seeing the power of the Word of God that you've heard about a thousand times if you're in fairly typical faith communities and listen to things and read things of the faith, you hear about this kind of stuff all the time. But how do you activate it in your own life? How do you tap into the power of God's Word? That is what we're doing here tonight and it's gonna tell you why you wanna be in it. "The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one's life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise".
Do you hear what it's saying to you? Because what it's saying to me is, listen, God will teach me through his Word things that will make me experienced in ways I have never experienced. You understand what I'm saying? We don't have to learn everything by experience. We learn the deepest things by experience, but what he's saying is, "I can so equip you with my Word that you will be as one who is experienced in ways that you have never even known, to make the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad".
Now, what he's doing is repeating different words that are standing for Torah or the word or instruction of the Lord. So we've got the instruction, we've got the testimony, we've got "the precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up". Don't you want a little lighting up of the eyes? "The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb. In addition, your servant is warned by them, and in keeping them there is abundant reward". He said, "Being in my Word," he said, "will not only give you a good warning when you need one, but you will also have much reward from it".
Do you see the two sides of it? That by them is your servant warned. In other words, man, I can be in prayer, I can be engaged in God's Word, and I can suddenly have that sense come over me there is a situation in my life where I'm getting a warning that I need to navigate very, very carefully. Anybody know what I'm talking about? And then it says this: "Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Moreover, keep your servant from willful sins; do not let them rule me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed from blatant rebellion. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer". Then I'll read familiar words out of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuke, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work". Somebody bless the reading of the Word of God.
All right, now, here are some things I wanna get straight with you before I take you into what my basic day-to-day practice is. So, the first one is this: keep the goals straight. Keep the goals straight. The goal of time with God is not x amount of minutes. Like, you're not, like, "My goal is to spend 30 minutes in prayer every morning," "my goal is to work into where I could honestly thoroughly enjoy an hour with the Lord". Those are not our goals. It's not about amount of minutes, it's not about getting it exactly right. What it's about, and I wanna give you what I believe to be the goal, what's the goal for me. This is what I'm looking for in my daily practice with him in the Word.
The goal is engaging with God in such a way that abounds the soul and empowers the life. In my day-to-day relationship with him, I'm looking for spiritual practices with him, I'm looking for an approach to him that results in two things, and that is that my soul abounds, in other words, I've got to have him tend to my soul. So do you. We go through a lot of stuff here. We endure a lot of things. We're called to persevere through many, many difficulties and we have wounds that come in our day-to-day lives that we need comfort and we need tending over. I need my soul to be tended to and I want it to be full and abound. I want my soul to be satisfied. That's a huge part of my approach to God.
And the other one is that it empowers the life. This is what I'm bringing up to you in our present hour, is how does the power of the Word that we hear about all the time, "the Word of God is alive and active, and sharper than any double-edged sword and it pierces into the dividing of the soul and the spirit and the marrow". All right, all this power that goes with the Word, how in the world does that get activated in the day-to-day life of your regular person like us? What we're looking for is engaging with God in such a way that abounds a soul and empowers a life. Now, I'm gonna share with you my practices but let me tell you what you've got to really guard against. If you make something legalistic out of this, you have left where I was going because that is not my goal. It's not my goal in my personal life. I fight it. As much as I would fight license, I fight legalism.
There are two extremes that we can go to when we are in Christ. License is, "I just have license to do anything I want". That's just a total perversion of grace. "I'm going to do anything I want. The cross of Christ has already paid for everything. It does not matter how I live, it does not matter what I do, because I can always count on the fact that I have been cleansed by the blood of Christ". And we have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. But can it distance us? Can the Spirit be quenched? Absolutely. Are we called to pursue godliness? Yes. So license is one extreme, but the other extreme is legalism and I'm gonna tell you something. Both of those things lead exactly the same direction. They lead to distance from God. Legalism will take you to the same place license will take you. It just drives you there slower and makes you more confident on your way.
License and legalism will always end you up and end me up distant from God instead of close. Give yourself freedom to grow. Give yourself freedom to grow. One of the most important things we can understand about God is that he as surely loves to see us develop in our spiritual lives as we love to see an infant then begin to smile, begin to respond, then clap her little hands and then be able to toddle and walk. Would you want your infant to day after tomorrow suddenly have a doctorate in theology? You know what I'm saying? But somehow we expect that of ourselves that the only thing he really appreciates is for us to already be there immediately. And so we miss the point that it was the growing up in him. Growing up under a Father's love that makes us secure, that gives us wellbeing and that activates that abundant life in us. Know that God knows your circumstance and season.
I'm thinking of a mom of an infant that's colicky and never sleeps longer than an hour including during the night. And not to mention she's got a toddler, she's also taking care of. Would God not know exactly the season and the circumstance that she is in? So please, please know he gets it. Instead of us guilting ourselves into some kind of disciplinary practice that is not even falling on open ears or the fertile soil of the heart because we're so messed up right now, we don't know north from south. We're just trying to make it 'til bedtime. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Now, here's what I don't want you to do and I don't want me to do, and we don't want to just let ourselves off the hook. But what I'm saying is, to the degree that we can pursue and that we can come to the table and we can receive and we can pour out our hearts before him, we wanna do that.
I always think, "I could probably go a little, about an inch further than I think I can". But there are genuinely times when we're so grief-stricken that all we can do is moan before the Lord. And that's its own prayer. Know that stillness and quietness before him can be as sacred as speech. So, here's how my usual approach goes for whatever good and encouragement this might be to someone. So, none of this would be on my little kitchen island where I come every single morning and have my quiet time. In different seasons of my life, I've had my quiet time in different places and, yes, I still call it a quiet time and it's anything but quiet. Devotional time, whatever you wanna call it, but our time to begin the day with God. And I am gonna tell you I do this in the morning and I know, again, I want you to work this out with God.
You may say, you know, "I'm not a morning person. I can't even think early in the morning". I get that. I get that. Figure that out with God, but I am gonna tell you this. I want his Word to speak over me before this world speaks over me. And it speaks loud, it's noisy, and there are a lot of voices going at once. And it is important to me that I hear from God before I hear a whole lot of noise from the world. So I'm gonna tell you this. I believe in the theory of eight hours a night. I don't often get it, but I also am not sleep-deprived but I'm gonna tell you this. I probably would get a little closer to seven. I'd love to get eight. Every now and then I do, but, for me, that hour with him is going to outweigh the benefits of the fact that I'm gonna get another hour of sleep.
So it starts out, first thing I do is I'm gonna bring my praises and I'm gonna bring my confessions of sin. Why? Well, because what I'm hoping for is that he is gonna fill me with his Spirit. So I am wanting to get out any kind of hindrance, anything that I just need to get off my chest, I wanna get out first thing. So, "Lord, I'm reflecting over the day before and these are the things I wanna bring to you. Man, I'm really sorry that I said that to my husband. I'm really sorry that I was as irritable as I was to so-and-so, that I thought that about so-and-so". Anybody? Anybody? "That I gossiped. So I've poured out what I have to bring you, I've poured out my praise, I've poured out my confessions. Now, Lord, would you fill me with your Spirit"?
Now, why would that be a thing to pray? Well, because I'm about to go to his Word and it's the Spirit of God that is gonna resonate with the words of the Spirit of God on the page. So I want the Spirit of God within me, that earnest deposit of the Spirit of God within me, resonating with the Spirit of God on the page because I wanna be responding to it. I don't want it to just be cold words, black ink on a white thin page. I want to be responding to it. So I want, "Lord, fill me up with your Spirit. Let me come to the Word that way". So this is when, now, I'm gonna sit down at my table. By this time I have turned on my coffeemaker. Somebody give praise to God.
So I do my confessions before my coffee, yes, but it is really the only thing that I do before my coffee. So alarm goes off early, bring my praises and my confessions of sin and I come to the table with my supplies. I have my journal, and it's just a regular spiral. I'm gonna have me some pens and I'm gonna have my highlighter. I'm going to. I'm going to, because I'm gonna wanna highlight some Scriptures and then I have a light. And I thought, "Okay, I'm just gonna bring it and tell it to you". The room is completely dark. I keep it that way on purpose. And I have this little light that I turn on and I put it down right in front of what I'm doing. And it's shining down on my Bible and on my open journal so that all in the world I can see in this world for the time being is the Word of God and my open journal. So everything else is completely black.
And it does something for me. Just this little bit of light, this one little beam that everything else in the world fades to black. Me, Jesus, a Bible, a journal, a pen, and a tiny little light. Keeps me from doing anything else. My phone is off. Just me and Jesus and this tiny little light. I have a booklet that has prayers that I can pray for my children. It's Scripture prayers that I can pray for my children. Almost every single morning, one of the first things I do after I sit down is I just open where I am right now. This is my little list of 17 people that I pray for every single day and I just lift these up and I'm just, like, "Lord, I pray that you would make my children to be thankful people". Every single one of these have an address with them so I may do, like, four or five of those.
So I've got my little booklet here. What I also have, I look for books that are just chock full of Scripture so I know that I could use them in my quiet time because I know that they're gonna have me from one Scripture to another. So, often what I will do, I am always at the same time reading a book of the Bible. So this is really, really important to me and I'm gonna let this fall on you as you'd have it. Just see what God does with this. But I am gonna always read through a book of the Bible because I want to read the actual Word. One of the biggest deficits I see in the body of Christ and one reason why we don't mature past elementary school is because we are spending our lives doing devotionals.
I love devotionals. I love devotionals. But we have to know the actual Word of God. And to read through one book, even if it takes a long time, read through the book of Luke, then read through the book of Exodus. Go back and forth. That's what I love to do is I go back and forth between the Old and New Testament. Sometimes, I will do a read-through in a year, but I really do not like reading that fast. What I'm gonna do in my own time with God is that I'm gonna do the equivalent of reading two chapters. So if I'm doing a supplemental book, I'll read one chapter of whatever book of the Bible I'm reading. And then I will read the equivalent of that out of the book.
So I'll read a couple of pages out of the book. Otherwise, I'm gonna read two chapters if I'm not using a supplemental book. Does that make sense to anybody? Then I'm gonna read two chapters of that. Right now, I'm reading through the book of Job. I went to Ezra and then I went to Nehemiah and then I went to Esther and then I was staring Job in the face and thought "What can I do"? You know, you can only put Job off so long. And so I'm going through that right now and just really persevering through it the best I know how. But that's what's in my box here, and some pens. This also has a little magnifier. If I need to look at a little scholar's note or something like that, I use this. This is just my stuff.
Now, one of the things I'm going to do every single time, so here's what... the alarm's gone off. First thing I've done is I've brought my praises and my confessions to God. Then I'm gonna come to the table with my supplies and that's whatever you would use for your time with him, you're bringing it to wherever you're gonna sit. And then I deliberately avail myself to him. And I think this is a really important part. So however, this looks for you, what I'm doing is, this is before I've started reading or anything, this is only after I've sat down with my supplies, I've pulled them out of the box. I've had a little bit of time to pour out my praise and confession on him. I'm only about, just so that you know, I'm only about six minutes in by now.
So I just want you to kind of get the timeframe. This is not where I've already spent 30 solid minutes getting to this point. I'm a few minutes in, a few minutes in here. But I'm going to avail myself. In other words, I wanna say to him, "Hit me with it. I want it". He says, you know, "Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you". He wants us to want it. And so, I'll say things like this, like, on occasion I'll say to him, "Lord, I avail myself to the full work of the cross and the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ. This day, I just make myself available to you". Other times, I'll just say to him, "Here, Father, here's every single part of me. Here is my mind. If there is any part of my mind that you want to use that I've not given you access to, whether it's creativity, whatever it may be, go for it. It's yours. I avail to you all my emotions. I avail to you my personality. Here it is, here it is. I withhold from you nothing".