People ask me how to maintain a vibrant relationship with Jesus. What they are asking is how they can feel strong all the time. I am not sure that we can feel anything all the time. We can't feel joy all the time, but we can be joyful. We can't feel content all the time, but we can be content. We can't feel strong all the time, but we can be strong. We have a source to find what we need when we need it and it is found in our relationship with Jesus. There really is only one secret to maintaining a vibrant relationship with Jesus but it's not even a secret. Everyone knows about it but it is simply something we don't make allowance to do. We need to pray.
People give all kinds of excuses why they don't pray, forget to pray or mean to pray but just don't get around to it. I have lots of excuses as well. But the truth is we find time to do whatever is important to us. If we want to watch our favorite TV show, we make time to do so. If we want to hang out with a friend, we shift things around to make it happen. If we want to spend hours on FaceBook or Tumblr, we manage to find the time, often at the cost of other important activities like sleep. So prayer isn't all that important to us, even though we like to think it is.
Some people don't pray because they don't know how. They don't understand it is a conversation. A one sided conversation you might say. Hardly. Anyone who has developed any measure of habitual prayer will tell you that it is a true communion with Jesus and answers are given, direction is made clear and rich fellowship is enjoyed. Prayer is done in an attitude of worship, with singing and maybe even some dancing. It is filled with expressions of adoration. There are times of talking, others of listening,and periods of incredible silence. It involves the Word and a list of petitions. It is filled with insight and revelation. It is always enjoyable. For each person it takes on a different method or form but the foundation is always the same: spending time with Jesus.
Some people don't pray because they feel they have not yet earned enough favour. They think their life does not merit any response from Father and so they look around for a righteous person to pray on their behalf. They fail to understand that Father has declared us all to be righteous according to how he sees us. We are to walk in righteousness, desiring to be obedient but we need to understand why we go to him with our requests and petitions. Daniel, the prophet, knew why, maybe better than some and the longer you spend time with Jesus the more you will understand too:
O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. (Daniel 9:18)
And that is the truth of the matter. We don't have a leg to stand on. We have no right in ourselves to be able to approach the Throne. There is no reason in us why Father should even entertain our requests. But he changed all that. We don't approach him in our natural selves because he changed all that. We approach him in the blood of the Lamb, in relationship with Jesus Christ, adopted as the children of the Father. Mercy is when we do not receive what we have earned, which is death, but in his mercy and goodness Father gives us good things. We pray with confidence because of who he is. It is not about us and all about him.
Nothing is going to happen in your life, nothing is going to change, there is no way you will become what he desires of you unless you develop the habit of prayer. Let me put it this way: You are not going to get to know Jesus and become like him unless you spend time with him. Do you want a life of conviction and power? Then spend time with the King. Make it your number one priority every day. Carve it into your schedule. Treat it like eating or hanging with your best friend. It must become essential to your day. Not a hurried two second prayer but a coming aside and sitting in his presence for an hour or two if need be. Work at it. Develop it. Allow it to grow. It is awkward at first, even difficult, but the longer you do it the more natural it will become and the more sensitive to the Spirit you will be. Whatever it takes, however long it takes to remain connected to our Vine of life. Just do it.