It sounds like a trick question, doesn’t it? But have you ever thought about the implications of using such words as “friend” or “father” when describing your relationship with God? It is easy to imagine God as Creator – a domineering one for that matter. But, a friend? That’s almost irreverent. We love hanging out with friends. We can spend a whole day with our friends doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company. We buy gifts for our friends on their birthdays, not because we are supposed to, but simply because we like them. Making our friends happy makes us happy.
I find myself quite often having a rigid and “business-like” relationship with God. Oftentimes its like a bad marriage, you’re only there because you’re supposed to be there. Prayer gets laborious as the study of God’s word gets more mechanic. I am not sure I always like God, not as much as I should anyway.
Jerry Bridges, in his book True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia grapples with Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17). Those three little words seem to carry a weight that many of us simply prefer to ignore.
Few Christians take these instructions seriously. We have tacitly written them off as impractical in today’s busy world. But it can be done. It takes serious commitment and mental discipline, but we can practice communion with God throughout the day.
Sounds implausible, doesn’t it? I thought so too when I first read those words. Here is one of the ways Jerry Bridges suggests that we can go about obeying that scripture:
It begins with scripture memorization… But assuming we have begun to memorize scripture, how do we use it to have communion with God? We need to develop a habit throughout the day of continually turning our minds to the Word of God, reflecting on it each time opportunity permits. This means the every time we can choose what we will think about, we choose to think about the Word of God. But we don’t just think about the bare words of scripture, we think beyond the words to the God of scripture, for we realize that through the words of those scriptures, God is speaking to us.
Even though this sounds like a good suggestion, it still looks daunting to many of us. It is simply too tasking. And this is exactly where our relationship with God as His “friends” or His “children” comes into question. If we find it easy to have idle chatter with our friends and enjoy their company for hours on end, why is it so difficult to feel the same way about God? Jerry Bridges suggests that one of the main reasons for this is because we always think of prayer as “conducting business” with God.It never occurs to us that communion with God can also be a way of enjoying God, delighting in Him, His company, His companionship.
Let us not just conduct business with God. Let us take time to simply enjoy Him and let Him enjoy us. Any relationship – whether it is a marriage, a friendship, or even a supervisor-employee relationship – soon deteriorates if it is simply built on “conducting business.”
People must truly like one another and enjoy one another if they are to establish and maintain solid relationships. So it is in our relationship with God.
So, I ask us the nagging question again. Do you like God? Do you enjoy His company? Perhaps it is time we seriously re-evaluated our friendship status with God, and ask ourselves very deliberate questions about the nature of the relationship that we have with Him. Then let us pray that God will incline our hearts towards Him, that we will grow to like Him and love Him for who He is. That we will miss His company and communion whenever we spend even a few hours without reading His word or saying a prayer.
Our emphasis today is on doing things for God, or on believing the right doctrines about Him. But few believers take time to commune with God simply for the sake of enjoying Him and adoring Him. In the church today, there seems to be very little of that thirst for God described in Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
May we grow thirsty for the only one who can truly quench our thirst.
For the fame of His name,