Becoming Intimate With God

You’ve probably said something like: “I really felt God’s presence during worship in church this morning.” Of course you know God is always present everywhere, but that time the experience was different – more intimate – more satisfying. What happened THAT time? What was different?

Jesus, in John 4:24 speaking to the Woman at the Well, told us “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

May I suggest that when you most felt the intimacy of God you were “in the spirit.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could experience that whenever you wanted to? I think you can and should. Jesus’ comment to the woman at the well suggests that worshiping in spirit and truth is something we control – an issue of our souls.

Worship does not mean just showing up at church on Sunday morning. And it is more than singing and praying and listening to others extol the virtues of Christ. I believe we experience our most intimate worship from within a particular state-of-the-soul. In order to do that we must not only be aware of what the term state-of-the-soul means, but for our own benefit, we must learn how to achieve it.

C.S. Lewis said “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body”.

The term soul is defined here to mean “The invisible aspect of a created being.” In humans the soul is comprised of a mind and a spirit. The term “mind” or “animal mind” used here is the same as Paul’s term “flesh”(Gal 5:17). The term “spirit” as used here is that aspect of our invisible being that can communicate with God by way of the Holy Spirit (Jn 4:24;Ro 1:9, Ro 8:16). All physical creatures other than humans have souls that lack that aspect and are therefore unable to communicate with God. (Gen 1:27)

There is constant contention for control between mind and spirit (Gal 5:17), It is important to be able to distinguish between those contenders and to recognize when we are functioning “in the spirit” as opposed to functioning “in the mind”. (Note that mind and spirit are not enemies, but inseparable companions. Separating the two can lead to insanity. Separating them from the body defines physical death.)

True worship requires each worshiper’s personal spirit to be engaged and leading. It means their animal mind, which is unable to commune with God, should not be leading during a time of worship. That’s the condition that defines the state-of-the-soul that is essential for the most rewarding and intimate worship of God.

For some people functioning in the spirit comes very easily and that may be true for you. And you may be able to function in the spirit whenever you want to. Not everyone can do that. Yet Christ teaches that we must be able to do that in times of worship. That tells us that everyone can learn how and, in fact, must do so.

Can you tell the difference between mind and spirit? Do you really know when you are ‘in the spirit’?

Paul lists in Galatians 5:19-21 some things associated with the animal mind. Such things are not the animal mind itself, but rather things it can produce. When those things dominate our thoughts we are functioning in our animal minds.

When we are easily distracted by such thoughts and other thoughts of the material world – by sights, sounds, smells or some physical discomfort in the body – our animal mind is in control.

Paying attention to these things during a time of worship can help you to learn to distinguish between your spirit-self and your animal-self.

Once you have ‘learned’ that distinction, you can begin to train your animal mind. Your mind has probably already learned to do any number of tricks such as talking, playing a musical instrument or doing mathematics. And it has also learned some things about social behavior, but it must also learn to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ while the “spiritual you” is engaged in worship.

It is impossible to enter a state of worship when our animal mind is in control. It is possible, however, to enter into a state of worship when our spirit is in control but our animal minds, while not in control, are undisciplined. But in that case, the state of worship may be frequently interrupted and not so satisfying.

An ecstatic state is not necessarily a part of being in-the-spirit, but some may experience reverent worship in a way that leaves them nearly oblivious to their surroundings.

For most of us, training our animal mind to behave requires patience and practice. However, be gentle with yourself in this training because not only do you become responsible for what you have tamed, but harsh treatment of yourself is unchristlike.

A good way to develop the practice of being ‘in the spirit’ is through daily, private worship. Worshiping alone is not the same as reading a daily devotion. Private, daily worship is a time you set aside to be with God. It is a time for engagement – in many ways very much like you would experience during corporate worship. It might include such things as prayer, reading and singing.

Ultimately we each stand alone before God and each of our styles of private worship is unique. That concept is developed and expanded in the book “Worshiping Alone” available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you haven’t read it, please consider doing so.

I would be very interested in hearing about your progress as you intentionally walk the path of sanctification.

Copyright © 2022 Sam Dronebarger

I ask only that this copyright notice remain attached and visible – otherwise feel free to use this material

One thought on “Becoming Intimate With God

  1. A key point for us to remember is that we are souls with a body, not a body with a soul. It is most important to nourish our souls. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.

    Like

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