God has placed one of the most amazing privileges available to us in our grasp - walking in the Spirit. The Father has chosen to release His presence and power of the Spirit in us and through us, but this promise will not simply happen in a vacuum. He made it clear that He would not release His power to us outside of an ongoing relationship with us.
Many times we wait and long for God to change our circumstances, come with physical healing, or come with breakthrough on our hearts – but we fail to realize He is waiting on us. He does not wait in anger, but He is so patient and kind towards us. What is He waiting for? He says “we can only move forward together if you consciously relate to Me and let your eyes, tongue, time, and money come under My leadership.”
Relating to God is simple for everyone to understand, yet almost too simple that so many actually never really do it with perseverance. In John 14, Jesus tells us about these two ways of relating to Him so that His power is manifest in us and through us.
Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it…. If you love Me, keep My commandments… He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:13-21)
Jesus promised to manifest His presence to those (v. 21, 23) who dialog with or ask God (v. 13-14) and who agree with the Holy Spirit’s leadership or keep God’s commandments (v. 15, 21, 23).
God longs for us to relate to him through dialog, or as we most often call it, prayer. But prayer is much more than going through our list, reading a verse or two and calling it a day. The Lord is looking for an active, ongoing conversation between our heart and His heart. When Jesus said if we would ask “anything”, we almost always first associate this with asking for possessions, more money, or increased influence in our outward circumstances. Those are certainly valid things to ask for, but the Lord constantly gives exhortations throughout the Word to give the most amount of attention to our inner life and how we carry our heart before the Him and before others. Our prayer list for our inner life should be far greater and more important than our prayer list for our external life. The promise of the Lord manifesting Himself to us first comes to our heart.
The other way Jesus told us to relate to Him is through obedience. “If you love Me”, He says, “keep My commandments”. It is impossible to get to a “plateau” in our life in God and then think we can simply stay there because we have obeyed in the past. The Holy Spirit says to us – “if you don’t want my leadership in your life, we’ll stop right here.” God will not force us to love Him and obey Him. We often forget this and get so accustomed to living a life with a dull spirit that we think it’s normal. This is far from normal Christianity! We were created to have a heart vibrant and alive with love. It is vain to think we can grow in experience in God if we do not let our eyes, lips, time, and money come under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
The blessing of God on our inner man is far greater than His blessing on the outside (money, possessions, blessed circumstances). As we dialog and obey, over time we begin to receive the most important blessing of all – a heart that’s alive, vibrant, and flowing with love for Jesus and for others. But God withholds the blessing that He intends to give us until we interact with Him in relationship. Pressure, pain and spiritual barrenness are meant to cause us to arise out of our passivity to more deeply relate to Him by calling out to Him. God does not need a relationship with us. He wants one. He waits on us to dialog and obey because He wants relationship. We can have people pray for us, read books about how to have blessed circumstances and a vibrant heart, and listen to lots of teaching but if we do not first have a fierce determination to experience God by ongoing dialog and loving obedience, we will never experience it in the way He intended us to. We must do our part and move towards Him.
The Holy Spirit continues to draw close to us only as we deliberately draw close to Him by asking for His help and obeying His leadership.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8 NKJV)
If we do not continually pursue an ongoing dialog and obedience, the light that we have in our inner man will become dark. We must grow in light lest we lose the light we have. Satan’s priority against the Church is to lead us astray from cultivating the ability to be responsive to God with wholehearted love and extravagant devotion. This takes time and effort. It is something we must do deliberately. Love does not automatically grow. On the contrary, it automatically diminishes unless we intentionally cultivate a heart response to God. Our heart is just like a garden. If we leave it to itself, it will grow weeds and the life will be choked out of it.
But what a glorious promise we have – as we obey God, feed on the Word, and talk to the Spirit, we put ourselves on the path of life to a vibrant heart and the blessing of God on our life in the age to come while we live empowered as a sojourner in this age.