There are a lot of songs about drawing closer to Jesus, we hear pastors from the pulpits admonishing us to do so, even the Scriptures say, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8) Most of the people I meet seem to do just the opposite though, they fulfill Matthew 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”
Perhaps I am just meeting the wrong people, perhaps the reason is because that is the main group the Lord has called me to witness to, He knows, I simply follow and obey. I will give you some wisdom that was recently given to me from a man who has been dead for almost four hundred years now. “If you want to pray to God, you have to be in the presence of God.”
Our Lord does not accept long distance phone calls, He speaks to us face to face, as it were, He invites us into the throne room and into the garden, and He is available at any time day or night, He is never too busy or preoccupied with anything to stop and listen to us, but we must go to Him. Such is the nature of prayer, they do not float up to God like a balloon or a mist, we do not have to set an appointment or wait in line, or plead for a special invitation, anytime, anywhere, He is always available. It is why we always, or should always, start our conversation with the Father in praise and thanksgiving, knowing from that moment on until we are finished speaking that He has heard every word, and not just every word, but the intent of our heart, out true desires that we might not even realize behind every word.
It is a proven fact that the average persons ability to stay focused on a singular subject is less than a few seconds, then our minds begin to wander. I notice this in myself each evening when I lay my head down to rest for a few hours especially. The prayers begin to be interrupted by the thoughts of today, of tomorrow, of almost everything, and it takes a serious mental effort to draw them back to my prayers. The man who does not practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” during the day will find it quite difficult to remain in the presence of the Lord, if we do not “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thess. 5:17) our thoughts will wander throughout the day, and will be not only more difficult to control when the morning arrives, but will over the span of our lives begin to control us, to take us in directions that we once thought never possible.
If we follow Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” then we will have little time to search for the things of the world, and if we count all things as loss (Phil. 3:8) save for the Lord Jesus Christ, then our thoughts will be guided by the Holy Spirit towards Christ. It is a matter, in part, of the last fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, self-control, and it must be not a matter of prayer for today, but for the entirety of our lives.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21) And so, to keep every thought captive for Christ is to pray without ceasing and to concentrate those thoughts on our treasure. Too bad it’s not as simple to do as it is to write down and to read. I personally believe that one of the greatest rewards of heaven will be the ability to control our thoughts, to direct them instead of us being directed and detoured by them. We will no longer be bothered by the things of the world, Satan will no longer be able to tempt us, the lust of the eyes and flesh along with pride will be completely gone, and the “old man” (Eph. 4:22) inside of each of us, our sinful nature will be abolished forever.
We have a lot going against us right now, but we know Philippians 4:13 to be true, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Do what you can each day to control your thoughts, to keep your heart in check, to guard your lips, the Lord is nearer to us than any of us will ever know, and always willing to help in whatever way we need in these areas, all we need to do is ask.