The Promise is to You

A Simple Way to Grow in Intimacy with God

Even more than we crave knowing God’s love, God thirsts for us to know him intimately. 

Jesus declared, “As the Father loves me, so I love you. Abide in my love” (Jn 15:9). The apostle John confirmed: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 Jn 4:16).

This desire for union was so vital that when Jesus was about to die he prayed to the Father, “The glory that you have given me I have given [those who believe], so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17:22-23).

Jesus was telling us that we are loved by the Trinity the way the divine persons of the Trinity love each other. Infinitely. Completely. Penetratingly. Intimately.

In this pure love, God sees us as we are. He accepts us. He cherishes us. He wants us to experience the closeness of his love. It was for this reason that Jesus became man, suffered his passion, died, and rose again. And for this reason God sent his Holy Spirit to live in us so that we may be united to him even now.

This is not about warm feelings of consolation. God’s love for us is more like the mature love of a husband married for decades whose romance with his bride keeps growing through their times of joy and delight, tediousness and storms, laughter and quiet, tears and peace.

God wants intimacy with us in every area of our lives so that our union with him will be complete. He has given us many ways of drawing closer to him: the Sacraments (particularly Baptism, the Eucharist, & Confirmation), his Word in Scripture, and many forms of prayer.

There is a particularly simple method of prayer, similar to Lectio Divina, that can help us grow in intimacy with the Lord in all the areas of our lives. Whether we take ten minutes or an hour, this prayer disposes us to both hear the Lord and respond to him.

1. Read the daily Mass readings or another Scripture or spiritual reading.
2. When something in it resonates with you, stop there.
3. Consider why it resonates: Are you excited about it? Bothered by it? Learning something new? Does it relate to a situation in your life? Does it bring you peace? Does it connect with your hopes and dreams? Etc.
4. Talk honestly with God about your response in #3.
5. Listen for God’s response to you. (For some tips, click here: Recognizing the Lord’s Voice)
6. Continue the dialogue as long as needed.
7. Make a concrete response: Decide how you are going to live out what he has shown you. Ask him for the grace to do it, and thank him for the ways he is drawing you into deeper union. Write your response in a journal to make it clearer and more memorable.

As you use this method regularly, you’ll see the different areas of your life become part of your dialogue with the Lord. He will bring his love, healing, wisdom, and blessing to those areas. You will be transformed. And since the degree to which we are in union with him is the degree to which we can give his love to others, his love will increasingly shine through you to the world.

The Lord has much more for us than we could ever ask or imagine. Below are some writings from mystics that draw back the veil a little so we can glimpse more of this reality.

I would also love to hear your thoughts on growing in intimacy with God. Please post them in the comments below.

Sacred Heart image

Meditations on intimacy with God:

     All the soul’s seeking, teaching, prayers to God, and meditations are for this one purpose: to get into the presence of God and become Love, and to live a moral life with the purity that is the signature of true love. Such a soul always considers what it is and what it ought to be, what it possesses and what it lacks.

    With its whole attention, and with great yearning and all its strength, the soul tries to keep itself pure and to shun everything that could burden it and slow it down as it works to accomplish spiritual growth. The soul’s courage never weakens, and its will never hesitates in seeking, asking, learning, gaining, and keeping everything that can
help bring it to Love.

    The soul must live in hope. -Bl. Beatrijs of Nazareth, Seven Manners of Living

    God is our husband, faithful and true, and we are His much-loved wife and much-adored lady, with whom God is always patient and always gentle, never harsh. That’s why God likes to remind us, “I love you, and I know you love Me. And don’t forget, our love will never suffer through divorce.” -Julian of Norwich, Revelations

    God’s endless love embraces our human weaknesses that are always ready to offend our Creator. The medicine for our sickness is Love’s fire. You can never exhaust this love.

    We receive this love as medicine when we see how the standard of the most holy Cross is placed within us. In fact, we’re the rock in which this Cross was fixed because neither nails nor wood would have been able to hold the precious, spotless Lamb, unless love and affection had held him there. So when we realize how sweet and precious a medicine we have right here within us, we must never lapse into indifference. Surely we’ll stand up instead and dedicate our emotions and desires to God.

    We’ll feel the self-contempt a sick person has who hates being sick. We’ll stretch our hands out for the medicine the Doctor gives then, and we’ll love this medicine. -St. Catherine of Siena, Letters

    Rejoice and be glad in the God who accepted you and made your soul the bride of the King and of the dazzling Lamb who walks before you. Run after your Bridegroom’s footsteps, and let the journey be sweet. Don’t look to the right or to the left, and you’ll come to Him.

    The Lamb will lead you up into the upper room of His tent, and you’ll eat with God and He with you. In the Bridegroom’s tent you’ll rejoice with the angels. You’ll smell cinnamon and balsam and the sweetest fragrances. Before the throne of God you’ll hear beautiful music, too.

    There’s no more weakness there, and no trouble of any kind to bother you. God offers you this joy. God lives and rules forever and ever. Amen. -Elisabeth of Schonau, Letters

Quotes taken from “Incandescence: 365 Readings with Women Mystics” by Carmen Acevedo Butcher

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