“Lord, help me to hear You, fear You, draw near to You, and see myself as dear to You.“
This is the prayer I’ve been saying lately for myself and for others. It was inspired by a quote a friend shared with me. She attributed it to a believer from long ago whose name I can’t recall.
I’ve noticed when I type the prayer, I tend to rearrange the four parts. They are all connected. Each is essential for a close walk with God.
Lately as I’ve pondered that prayer, I’ve focused on the “draw near to You” part.
In my years as a Christian, I’ve battled obeying that command from Scripture.
Draw near to God… James 4:8 (NKJV)
What an invitation. A perfect God wants imperfect, flailing me to come close to Him.
If I do my part, God does His:
…and He will draw near to you… (James 4:8)
This shows He is not apathetic toward me and my struggles.
As I reflect, I see that when I fail to draw near to God, I’m also unable to do the other three things in this prayer—fear Him, hear Him and see myself as dear to Him.
Today I admit that at times I don’t draw near to God because a part of me would rather not fear Him. Fearing Him seems centered on following Him in ways that rip me out of my comfort zone with me not being in control, which is scary. So my fears can keep me from fearing Him. And I back away.
I also avoid drawing near when I’m in the mindset of doing what I want to do when I want to do it. At those time I really don’t want to hear from God. For surely He will tell me something different from my cravings. So I back away.
Also, I can get caught in believing I’m not as dear to God as I truly am. This happens when the enemy whispers lies after I’ve failed to be Christlike. During those times I can back away from God and be drawn into self-condemnation and self-pity.
As I was looking up James 4:8 today I realized I couldn’t recall the rest of the verse—the part I discovered I’d rather leave off.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
God wants me to draw near so He can purify me and deliver me from being double-minded. He wants to set me free from my “I want to fear You/ No I don’t;” “I want to hear You/ No I don’t;” “I see myself as dear to You, No I don’t” battle.
Years ago when I tended to see the Lord as a condemning God, a thought came to my mind:
“I want you to draw near to Me not to scold you but to hold you.”
I’m realizing that as He holds me and consoles me, He also lets me know where I’m missing the mark and kindly calls me to repentance. And as I keep drawing close to Him, He gently shows me how to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
The question is: Do I really want that?