What comes to mind when you think about why we are supposed to pray? Maybe you think of our need for God’s help or our duty as followers of Christ. These are certainly good reasons to pray, but prayer is also a way to enjoy the presence of God. Tim Keller, a pastor in New York City, describes prayer as “a conversation that leads to an encounter with God.”[1]

Read Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19. “14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Paul is asking God to grant the Philippians strength through his Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. He wants them to experience communion or nearness with Christ. He says this will lead to them being able to comprehend the love of Christ and be filled with the fullness of God. It is hard to wrap your head around what that even means, but a summary might be that he is asking that they experience God in ways they never have before.

We can enjoy being with God. There is an enjoyment to be experienced in his presence as you comprehend his love and are filled with his Spirit. This is an element of prayer that we do not talk about enough. When John Wesley described the Spirit’s work in his life, he described his heart as “strangely warmed”. I love that description because it captures the sense of certainty and mystery that experience being in God’s presence.

 

Let me encourage you to pray to draw near to God and enjoy his presence. Should you ask for things? Of course! Should you labor in intercession for others? Absolutely! But remember to take time to enjoy being with God.

 

If you have never tried to spend time with God in prayer, you could try a few simple steps. First, find a block of at least 20 minutes where you can be uninterrupted. Spend the first 10 minutes in silence and solitude. Just try to quiet your heart before the Lord. If you need to think about something, think about Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” When your heart is settled, draw near to God, and ask him to draw near to you. (James 4:8) Sometimes, I read Isaiah 6:1-4, and I picture the throne of God. I imagine myself at the base of the throne, clothed in the righteous garments of Christ. I ask him to search my heart and forgive my sins. I ask him to help me to sense his presence, and often my heart is “strangely warmed”.

[1] Tim Keller, Prayer, 165.