For the life of him, Jeremy could not figure out why he could not open the door. It was not that heavy, after all. It was your simple, everyday wooden door. He pushed and pushed. Nothing. No movement. What Jeremy did not realize was that someone had put a bar against the door on the other side. Until he went around and removed that barrier, he could not open the door. That’s what we’ll be doing this month—examining and removing the barriers to getting closer to God, beginning with keeping your time with God.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).
You know that it is important to spend time with God. That is, it is important if you want to know God more, get closer to God, and live with God’s confidence and peace. Yet, it doesn’t seem to quite happen. What’s wrong? Here are three common barriers that prevent you from keeping your time with God.
Barrier #1 When You Keep the Time with God You Don’t Know What to Do
So you’ve heard that it is important to spend time with God. You’ve actually been able to set aside this time. What next? Right now, it feels kind of awkward. What are you supposed to do?
Well, here’s a question for you. What do you do when you want to get to know someone more? I’m guessing that you do two things when you are with them. (1) You ask questions then you listen for the answer to the questions, as well as whatever else they may share about themselves. (2) You also speak with them, because relationships are two-way.
When you get to your God time, go to the Bible with your questions. Follow a reading plan if that would help. There are many devotionals that you an use, including SurrenderInPrayer’s How to Pray: 28-Day Devotional and Journal. As God speaks, write down what God says through God’s Word and directly. Then, tell God about you—what’s happening and how you’re feeling. Speak naturally, yet respectfully. Spend some moments in reflection simply enjoying God’s presence. That’s what you do with your God time.
Barrier #2 The Time with God Seems Dry
However, there are times when your time with God seems dry and lifeless. In those moments, remember Jesus’ words: “I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). It’s not about how you feel. Emotions will trip you up every time. Press into your meeting time. Press on to know God.
At the same time, there are some things that could contribute to a dry spell. Chief among these is unconfessed sin. That is, you do something that is displeasing to God and you experience no remorse and/or you do not tell God about it and ask for forgiveness. The Psalmist said:
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened;
he has given heed to the words of my prayer (Psalm 66:18–19).
Make self-examination a regular part of your life. When you do something that is against what God wants, in other words, something that displeases God, be truly sorry. Tell God and ask God to forgive you. No need to wait for a special time. Ask for forgiveness as soon as you become aware of it. In addition, incorporate self-examination into your time with God. Take a few moments to look at your actions, thoughts, and words to see if you missed some way in which you went contrary to what God wants of you. The more you do this, the more natural it will be.
Barrier #3 Resisting God
In your relationship with God you can be like the two-year old who has learned to say, “no.” When God leads you in a way that is uncomfortable and or contrary to your desire, you come up with a great big, “no.” Even when you don’t say it, you act it. This impacts your time with God for that “no” is a big barrier between you and God that’s keeping the door from opening out. It lingers in the air. Instead, say “yes.”
Saying “yes” to God does two things. (1) It shows that you acknowledge God as God. (2) It keeps the door open for God to continue to speak with you and use you.
Time with God is precious. Move pass these barriers to a full and free time.
Get closer to God and gain a deeper understanding of who God is.
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