Resolve #1 – To Know Him More
5 suggestions for knowing Jesus more fully this year. (6 min. read)
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Many of us do, of course, and they are usually concerning such issues as those extra pounds we put on during the Christmas festivities. Or perhaps we have decided to not let our smart phone or iPad dominate our time as much this year. On a more positive note, maybe there is a renewed commitment to read the entire Bible through in a year (there are many excellent reading plans online that can help with such a goal).
Are there any helpful resolutions that we can make that will deepen our prayer experience?
All of these and many others are worthy resolutions to make, and it is sometimes helpful to have a significant date, like January 1st to hang them on. So what about those of us who believe that intercessory prayer is a vital part of our spiritual lives and the life of the Church? Are there any helpful resolutions that we can make that will deepen our prayer experience and make our prayers more effective?
Let me make one important suggestion to you based on the words of Jesus in His high-priestly prayer recorded in John 17. Jesus makes this incredible statement:
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
John 17:3 ESV
How would you describe “eternal life” if someone asked you? Well, it means we will live forever in heaven with the Lord, right? Yes, it included that, but that’s not the definition that Jesus gives in this passage. He says that the very experience of knowing the Father and His Son is eternal life, and we should make every effort to pursue knowing Him better. These amazing words are reflected in the familiar Collect for Peace that is in the daily office of Morning Prayer. Check it out:
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The apostle Paul expressed a similar thought when he said:
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Philippians 3:8 ESV
Note that Jesus did not say “to know about You is eternal life” nor did Paul speak of the “surpassing worth of knowing about Christ Jesus.”. This is not about amassing factual data concerning God, but it is about a relationship with Him that brings eternal life and surpassing worth. There is just nothing better or more valuable!
Over recent decades, men and women seeking training for the ministry have gone to seminary and learned much about God. The tragedy is, however, that frequently no one has ever asked them, “Have you met Jesus?” As a result, many have emerged with only information about God to offer their congregations. Knowledge about our amazing God is important because the more we know what our God is really like the more we can trust Him. But information itself is no substitute for the experience of having a dynamic, intimate relationship with the Lord that infuses and empowers every aspect of our lives. Every day can be a new experience of knowing and delighting in Him at a deeper level.
Every day can be a new experience of knowing and delighting in Him at a deeper level.
When I seek to comprehend the profundity in Jesus’ words about knowing Him and the Father being eternal life, I look to my own earthly experiences with my dear wife, Margaret. I knew about her before I met her. She was working at a retreat centre and part of her responsibility was to manage the book-table. I was a keen salesman of Christian literature, most eager to sell her every book she might ever need. And so, we met for the first time. I no longer just knew “about” her.
Several years passed and we soon found ourselves working together on staff at the same retreat centre. During those days, we were getting to “know” each other by spending time together, both in ministry and in relaxed down time. We found a common interest in youth work and many other areas of life. The effort of spending time together to get to know one another better was deeply rewarding, and ultimately we believed that God had called us to be married. Almost forty-one years later, we are still deepening our relationship as we continue to enjoy the pleasure of one another’s company.
Even if we have known Jesus for many years, we can plumb the depths of loving intimacy with Him much further.
So should it be with the Lord. Let me encourage each one of us to do some new year’s evaluation. Where are we on the “know about ->having met->know the Lord” continuum? Even if we have known Jesus for many years, we can plumb the depths of loving intimacy with Him much further. But like any valued relationship, it takes commitment and investment; perhaps even a new year’s resolution! Let me conclude with a few suggestions as to how to grow in knowing Him more:
Recognize that we still come to Him solely and utterly on the basis of the shed Blood of Jesus. We’ll never deserve it or earn our way in.
Ask God to give you a fresh hunger and thirst for His presence. Let Psalm 63:1 become the passion of our hearts; “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”.
Come into His presence through the scriptural door of praise and worship. Psalm 100:4 says ”I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter His courts with praise”Try singing to the Lord. If you play an instrument, use it – if not, play a worship CD. Using the daily offices in the Book of Common Prayer can be helpful. Read or sing the Psalms out loud.
Cultivate His presence. Set aside a daily time that’s not negotiable – first thing in the morning works for many, but meet with Jesus first, before checking emails or getting started on the details of the day. Tell Him of your love for Him, and take time to listen. If your mind wanders, and it will, don’t feel guilty or a failure, just come back to focus on the Lord.
Use waiting time wisely. See it as a gift from God rather than a nuisance and time waster. Standing in line in the grocery store, bank, post office, traffic jam, border crossing; all can be a time of lovely fellowship with the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God”. Psalm 46: 10 ESV.
originally published in 1st Friday Prayer Meditation Jan 2012