Knowing God For Who He Is (Reading Notes)

“Galatians 4:6-7 says that the Spirit leads us to call out passionately to God as our loving Father. Paul refers to this experience as ‘knowing God’ (4:8). That’s the ground motive of Spirit-directed, Christ-mediated prayer – to simply know him better and enjoy his presence.

Consider how different this is from the normal way we use prayer. In our natural state we pray to God to get things. We may believe in God, but our deepest hopes and happiness reside in things as in how successful we are or in our social relationships. We therefore pray mainly when our career or finances are in trouble, or when some relationship or social status is in jeopardy. When life is going smoothly, and our truest heart treasures seem safe, it does not occur to us to pray. Also, ordinarily our prayers are not varied – they consist usually of petitions, occasionally some confession (if we have just done something wrong). Seldom or never do we spend sustained time adoring and praising God. In short, we have no positive, inner desire to pray. We do it only when circumstances force us. Why? We know God is there, but we tend to see him as a means through which we get things to make us happy. For most of us, he had not become our happiness. We therefore pray to procure things, not to know him better.

All this changes when we discover that we have been mired all our lives in forms of self-salvation, and we turn to Christ. When we grasp his astonishing, costly sacrifice for us, transfer our trust and hopes from other things to Christ, and ask for God’s acceptance and grace for Christ’s sake, we begin to realize with the Spirits’s help the magnitude of our benefits and blessings in Christ. Then we begin to want almost desperately to know and love God for himself. His love and regard make popularity and worldly status look pale and thin. Being delighted in him and delighting him become inherently fulfilling and beautiful.” (Tim Keller in Prayer)