Obstacles to Intimacy with God
Our Perception of God
Trust is essential for intimacy to grow. Where trust has been broken by a human representing God (i.e. a parent) we will find it hard to trust God. Many of our difficulties with feeling the Father’s presence stem from a lack of godly intimacy with our earthly father. Just as we can’t hear his voice, we can’t enter boldly into his presence if we have a faulty foundation. See Resource Sheet 9 – What is God Like as a Father?
If we do not know God as Father, Saviour and Counsellor we may believe the relationship is one of servant of a King, that God is remote and to be obeyed rather than loved. If we have grown up without being shown unconditional love, having to earn love and acceptance, with others being given what we have to work for, we will doubt that God loves us for ourselves.
As John Belt describes in Pursue God in the secret place of intimacy – discover your true identity and destiny:
Everyone who has been rubbed with the mud of religiosity and condemnation, where intimacy with God has grown cold, has a hard time receiving anything from God or believing that God would do anything good for them. They believe they are last on the Father’s list. But the reality is that the Father wants to place His robe upon us, His signet ring of authority and have a banquet of celebration for our lives. See the story of the prodigal son:
But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:22-24)
The Father’s inheritance is for all the sons of God. The older son represents one bound by the spirit of religion. He represents one who boasts in works and achievements but never finds true joy because of lack of intimacy with the Father. The older son was jealous and upset, not realizing the inheritance was always for him as well.
Our Perspective about Intimacy.
Different people have varied understandings about what intimacy consists of. This is the result of our differing personalities, parenting, growing up experiences, cultural pressures, and many other things.
One difficulty is particularly common for men – the perception that intimacy is something for females, men are supposed to be ‘above’ that ‘soft’ stuff. Yet, inside every grown man is a little boy crying out for love and closeness. We only have to look at the example of how Jesus lived on earth to see how robbed men in our time have become. Jesus was passionate, open and vulnerable in his relationships with his friends, his family, and his Father. Jesus is the true model of manhood, not some Hollywood stereotype!’
Our Hearts Are Divided
If we do not, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart”, if there is another god sharing the place God alone should have, this will block our intimacy. The Holy Spirit is grieved and fellowship hindered. We often hold some ungodly desire in our heart and are self-deceived and unaware. These can sometimes be very little things but, as the Song of Solomon 2:15 reminds us, it is important to “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” We need the Holy Spirit to reveal what is in our hearts (Romans 8:27). Sometimes he will speak as we read the Bible. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12). If we long to be closer to him God will always answer our sincere prayer and search our hearts (Psalm 139:23), “for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you;” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
True marriage is my spouse being in my heart and me being in my spouse’s heart…It is about abiding in each other’s heart… Often we turn our Christian lives into something very complicated. We want to be good Christians according to the letter and try to do all kinds of things to please Him – pray more, read the Bible more, get more involved in ministry, or even sell our houses and work full time for the Lord. None of this is wrong in itself, but let us push all of it over to the side for a moment, and ask ourselves: “Does God live in my heart, and am I living in His? That is what love is all about! What do you think is the joy of God’s heart – to mark in a book how many hours you prayed or read your Bible, or for Him to simply live in you?” (p. 111-112).
We Aren’t Hungry for God
This is partly tied to having a divided heart. We can fill our lives with other things so that the Lord is pushed out. If a relationship matters to us, we will invest time and effort to maintain it. We have already caught a glimpse of how much God loves us, the cost he paid so that we could be reconciled and restored to intimacy. “When we look into His heart, He reveals to us what He looks like emotionally and what we look like to Him. The result turns our brains and hearts inside out. You can’t get over it! It’s like falling in love for the first time. He absolutely burns with love for you!” (Mike Bickle, After God’s Own Heart, p.13).
Jeremiah 29:13 (Amp.) promises, “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”
David’s response to the Lord’s call was immediate: You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. (Psalm 27:8 Amp.)
James 4:8a encourages us “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the heart that Jesus demonstrated all his life, “I have come to do your will, O God.” “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” As the prophet exhorted the wayward children of Israel: Seek the Lord [inquire for Him, inquire of Him, and require Him as the foremost necessity of your life], all you humble of the land who have acted in compliance with His revealed will and have kept His commandments; seek righteousness, seek humility [inquire for them, require them as vital]. (Zephaniah 2:3 Amp.).
Brian Doerksen has put it this way:
More than oxygen, I need Your love;
More than life-giving food
The hungry dream of.
More than an eloquent word
Depends on the tongue;
More than a passionate song
Needs to be sung.
More than a word could ever say,
More than a song could ever convey;
I need You more than all of these things.
Father, I need You more.
More than magnet and steel
Are drawn to unite;
More that poets love words
To rhyme as they write.
More than comforting warmth
Of sun in spring;
More than the eagle loves wind
Under its wings.
More than a blazing fire
On a winter’s night;
More than tall evergreens
Reach for the light.
More than the pounding waves
Long for the shore;
More than these gifts You give,
I love You more.
Copyright © 1994 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing/