Living Close to God – A Review
Some people seem to be naturally spiritually bent. They not only love God passionately but also find times of prayer, Bible-reading and communion with God as natural as eating or breathing. For others, this is certainly not the case. They find quiet times to be laborious, with their mind wandering and their heart lacking some kind of overwhelming emotional sensation. It is not that people in this second category don’t genuinely love God. They do. But they seem to be lacking something that others have. This latter category was certainly the case for Gene Edwards, author of Living Close to God – When You’re Not Good At It, who opened Chapter 1 by describing himself as “spiritually handicapped.” (1)
Edwards writes this book for people like himself, people who “are not spiritually inclined.” His goal? Not simply finding some textbook way to act or feel while spending some kind of obligatory time with God daily, but rather finding a vital Christian life. In his own words: “I was not looking for an experience; I was seeking a walk.” (4, emphasis original) The remainder of the book, then, is a telling of the author’s spiritual journey through this process. Along the way the author shares practical steps that helped him make progress in his journey.
One of the things I particularly liked about the book is the transparency with which the author writes. You can feel the weight of his struggle through this spiritual journey even through the titles of the first two sections of the book: “A Beggar Looks for Bread” and “From Praying to God to Fellowshipping with Him.” Another thing that I appreciated was the simplicity of the author’s practical steps toward seeking this “walk with God.” While he said the standard admonitions of “read your Bible and pray” was not the answer, he did not give up either of these spiritual disciplines in this process. He simply approached them in different ways. In fact, the things that made the biggest difference in the author’s life were both reading the Scripture and prayer. However, rather than simply enduring these activities as obligatory tasks, he instead approached them as personal fellowship opportunities with God.
He began reading the Scripture in a personal way, beginning with Psalm23. As he really slowed his reading process down, he sensed his spirit crying out, “Lord Jesus, You are my Shepherd.” (22) As he continued to express his heart personally to the Lord in prayer, he says something amazing happened: “I discovered that while I had sought prayer, what I found was beyond prayer. I had found Christ.” (23) In the remainder of the book, Edwards explains how he discovered that, rather than simply holding the answer, Christ was the answer to his search.
Edwards offers many practical tips for approaching this fellowship time with God. He doesn’t give them as a formula everyone must follow, but as many suggestions for people to try for themselves. Edwards explains how self-evaluation showed him that his times of prayer was more about asking God for things, rather than simply fellowshipping with Him. He tells how he changed his morning routine to include simple fellowship with God without asking anything of Him. Edwards was not saying we should never ask anything of God. He simply realized that it is easy for our “relationship” with God to consist exclusively of asking God for things, rather than our asking flowing from our relationship with Him.
If you are one who struggles to have consistent quiet times and feel that a relational “walk with God” is something that eludes you, you might benefit from this book. The book also includes a study guide that can be used in personal study or with a small group. Let this book point you toward ways that you can begin to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
(FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.)
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