One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in 1 Chronicles when King David is announcing that his young and inexperienced son Solomon will become Israel’s next king, and he is communicating that God wants Solomon to complete the mighty work of building the temple. After David communicates God’s plans for Solomon to the leaders of Israel, he exhorts his son and future king of Israel with this verse:
"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.” - 1 Chronicles 28:9
I love this verse because God’s heart for how we love Him, serve Him, and seek Him first is all here. Also, David, a loving father with the experience of being the greatest king of Israel and a man after God’s own heart, in his final years chose to exhort his beloved son with these words of wisdom. Bottomline is, this verse is WISDOM, and it starts with “KNOW the God of your father.”
The Hebrew word for “know” is yada,` which means to be acquainted with, to know by experience, to recognize, or to consider. It's a relationship! If you really think about it, God knows more about you than you know about yourself. He created you, He’s omnipresent and omniscient (He is always present and knows everything), He sees your outward actions, He even knows your thoughts, and He knows your tomorrow. What I love about this verse is it goes even further and says God knows your heart and understands the intent of your thoughts. Yikes! He knows our deepest motivations. He knows ALL. Furthermore, what always blows my mind is that He knows each and every person in the world on this same level and loves each one. WOW!
So, obviously, you can’t hide anything from God, and He loves you right where you are at today regardless of your sin, your state-of-mind, your intentions, or your attitude. Further in the verse, it says “if YOU SEEK Him, He will be found by you.” It’s up to us to seek Him. He is and always will be right there and available, just wanting to spend time with us. We are wired with a soul that thirsts to spend time with God as it’s in our original DNA - the “Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day” wanting to spend time with Adam and Eve, but they were ashamed and avoided His presence because of sin (Gen. 3:8). We are sinful because it’s our nature and it’s so easy to avoid His presence because our sinful nature separates us from His presence – we are thinking more about ourselves, our comforts, our “need” for sleep, our busy schedules, what we need to do today, how to get ahead, etc. etc, etc.
God gave us free will - free will to seek Him or forsake Him. It’s our choice, and it has eternal implications. He just wants to spend time in relationship with us. He already knows all of us, so we need to know Him to have this relationship. He is good all of the time, He wants to teach us, encourage us, bless us, grow us, change us, make us more like Him, and help us glorify Him so others can come to salvation and know truth through our lives. Understanding that we were made to have a relationship with God and that prayer is the method for how we talk to God, prompts me to consider my heart and approach to “knowing God”.
Yes, the “components” of prayer we’ve discussed in this blog series so far are all important, including: praise, thankfulness, praying scripture, repentance, and obedience, and we should challenge ourselves to make a habit of incorporating them into our prayer lives on a regular basis. But don’t approach prayer with a checklist either. Check your heart. What is the motivation of your heart and the intent of your thoughts? Is it to know Him? Is it to acquaint yourself more with God’s heart and will? Is it so you can recognize and consider His purpose and plan for your life because His thoughts are greater?
Here’s a practical example considering prayer before Bible study. In Matt’s powerful Rocket Fuel study a few weeks back, he said the first step of Bible study is quieting your own spirit. You can do this and should do this through prayer. I don’t know about you, but my spirit is LOUD! My mind is always swirling with the things I need to do today, the people I need to call/text, emotions, etc… This is one of the reasons I study the Bible in the morning, because my spirit is naturally a little quieter. I haven’t fully engaged in email, texts, social media, the news, my kids aren’t awake, and my fully-packed day isn’t in full swing yet. It is so much harder for me to quiet my spirit for an afternoon or evening Bible study. It can be done, but it’s harder. Regardless, whenever you study the Bible, make sure you quiet your spirit through prayer.
What does “quiet your spirit” mean? Purpose in your heart and mind to seek God first and suppress your flesh through prayer. Start with a heart to know God to get acquainted with Him, not the other way around. Praise God for who He is, and take time to be grateful for all He’s done, putting yourself in a place of submission, ready to receive from the God of the Universe who is spending time with YOU. Ask God to teach you, correct you, grow you, show you more of Himself, change you, reveal sin in your life, show you how to love others, prepare you for the day/week/months ahead, and for you to have an ear to listen and obey Him. Whatever you do, don’t jump into a Bible study with a loud spirit that is focused on yourself to check “do Bible study” off your list. God wants to spend time with YOU. He wants you to KNOW HIM. If you really wanted to get to know a new friend, would you say “Ok, you have 30 minutes. Make me feel good please”? No! You would make it a priority to spend quality time with that friend.
Remember, the purpose of prayer is communication between you and God. Keep it simple, come to Him and SEEK Him with a motivation to KNOW Him. He already knows ALL of you, so our place is to simply come to Him, to quiet our fleshly loud spirits, let His Spirit and presence in, just spending time with Him listening and meditating on His Word, with a heart ready to serve Him and not ourselves.
"Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28