In his book, Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood: Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days, Alvin VanderGriend writes of his attempt to define prayer in which God led him through a series of steps, each step adding a clarifying word or phrase.
In step one, he considered prayer simply as “talking with God.” As the idea of a relationship with God emerged, he began to see prayer as the “talking part of a relationship with God.” Next, a “talking part of a love relationship with God” and then the definition he lives with today: “Prayer is the conversational part of the most important love relationship in our lives, our love relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Conversation. Relationship. Two words that define our own intimacy with the God of the universe through the avenue of prayer. My husband’s grandfather, John W. Bramhall, in all his correspondence, enclosed small cards with Scripture, accompanied by a few thought-provoking words. My favorite, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil 3:10), was paired with this thought: “God doesn’t keep you alive because you have a job to do but because you have a God to know!”
We can know him! Not just know of him and what he has done and can do for us but know him personally. Jesus, while talking with his Father in prayer confirmed the importance of our knowing him. “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).
Ephesians 1:15-18 speaks of riches we have in knowing him:
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…”
How to Love God
So, how can we have a love relationship with him while growing in our knowledge of him? Begin with spending more time with him. The best way to know someone is to sit down with them and have a one-on-one conversation. It’s the same way with God. Invite him to sit with you in an atmosphere of prayer. Begin by thanking him for all he has done for you. Open his Word. Seek the empowerment of his Holy Spirit as you consider your current walk with him. Then share with him what is on your heart. Consistently stay in his Word.
God’s promise to his people in exile also applies to us as his beloved in the Lord Jesus: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:12-13).