Day 79

How to Develop Intimacy with God

Wisdom Psalm 35:13–18
New Testament Luke 2:41–52
Old Testament Numbers 7:89


The life and ministry of the American pastor John Wimber has had a great influence on my own life, our church and many other churches around the world.

He said, ‘The ability to hear what God is saying, to see what God is doing, and to move in the realm of the miraculous comes as an individual develops the same intimacy with and dependence upon the Father [as Jesus did].’ How did Jesus do what he did? The answer is found in his relationship with the Father. How will we do the ‘greater things than these’ which Jesus promised (John 14:12)? By discovering the same relationship of intimacy, simplicity and obedience.

God loves you with an intimacy that surpasses all your dreams. He wants you to have a close, personal relationship with him of intimacy, simplicity and obedience. This is an extraordinary honour and privilege. Moses, David and, of course, Jesus had an intimate relationship with God. But how do you develop intimacy with God?


Psalm 35:13–18

When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
   14 I went about mourning
   as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
   as though weeping for my mother.

17 How long, Lord, will you look on?
   Rescue me from their ravages,
   my precious life from these lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
   among the throngs I will praise you.


Openness, vulnerability and honesty

There were times when David was down; his soul felt empty (v.12, MSG). He was honest and open enough to talk about the challenges:

1. Opposition

David faced great opposition from those who repaid evil for good and attacked him. You also may face great opposition from those who repay evil for good and attack you (vv.12,15b). They may slander (v.15c), or maliciously mock (v.16a). Opposition does not only come through the world – it can even come from God’s people (v.16).

2. ‘Unanswered’ prayer

There may be times when your prayers do not seem to be heard: ‘My prayers returned to me unanswered’ (v.13). He says to God, ‘How long are you going to stand there doing nothing?’ (v.17, MSG).

3. Failure

We all stumble (v.15a). We can feel we are walking with the Lord quite happily and then suddenly we stumble. There may be times when we fail to meet our own standards, let alone God’s.

Like David, speak to God about all these challenges. Do not pretend that all is well. Speak from the depth of your heart. He will not be surprised or shocked by anything you say. It is this openness, vulnerability and honesty that draws you into an intimate relationship with God.


Lord, thank you that you listen to the cries of my heart. Thank you that you rescue me and enable me to say, ‘I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you’ (v.18).

New Testament

Luke 2:41–52

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and people.


Grow in wisdom

Even as a child Jesus had astonishing wisdom: ‘And all who heard him were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at his intelligence and understanding and his replies’ (v.47, AMP).

As someone has said, ‘Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad!’ Knowledge is horizontal. Wisdom is vertical. It comes down from above. It is far more important to grow in wisdom than to grow in wealth. Wisdom outweighs wealth. Intimacy with the Father leads to growth in wisdom.

After Jesus’ parents find him in the temple courts he says to them, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (v.49b). Or as The Message translation puts it, ‘Dealing with the things of my Father’ (v.49b, MSG).

On the one hand, Jesus’ relationship with his ‘Father’ was unique. On the other hand, he also enabled you to call God ‘Father’. He prayed to God as ‘Abba’ (the Aramaic word used by children on intimate terms with their father), and he taught his disciples to do the same (11:2). St Paul, writing about the Holy Spirit, says, ‘For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”’ (Romans 8:15).

We can learn four things about the wisdom that comes from intimacy with the Father by examining Jesus’ example in these verses.

1. Wisdom comes from listening

Wisdom is willingness to listen to and learn from others. Jesus was ‘sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions’ (Luke 2:46).

Sir Isaac Newton said, ‘I find intelligence is better spotted when analysing the questions asked rather than the answers given.’

Often, those who know most speak least. When we are talking, we are usually merely repeating what we already know. When we are listening, we may learn something new.

Asking good questions is the key to being a good conversationalist. It was said of President J.F. Kennedy that he made you think he had nothing else to do except ask you questions and listen, with extraordinary concentration, to your answer. You knew that, for the time being, he had blotted out both the past and the future for you.

2. Wisdom leads to simplicity

Wisdom brings clarity. Jesus knew where he should be and what he should do. He declared, ‘Didn't you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ (v.49). Knowledge leads us from the simple to the complex; wisdom leads us from the complex to the simple.

3. Wisdom is holistic

Wisdom is shown not only in what we say, but also in how we live: ‘Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them’ (v.51). Wisdom is about the whole of life, rather than just our intellect or our words.

4. Wisdom should grow

Through his intimate relationship with God, ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and people’ (v.52) – a very similar description to that used of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26).

Wisdom should grow as we get older. Not that Jesus’ wisdom was flawed or imperfect, but it grew as he matured, as it should with us.

This is a prayer we often pray for our children – that they would grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and people.

Above all, Jesus’ wisdom came from his intimate relationship with God. God was his Father. He knew he had to be in his Father’s house, and his intimacy with his Father was the foundation of his wisdom.


Father, thank you that you have given me the Spirit of adoption by which I can cry, ‘Abba, Father’. Thank you that you call me into the same relationship of intimacy that Jesus had with you. Help me to grow in this relationship of intimacy, simplicity and obedience. Through your Spirit may I grow in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and people.

Old Testament

Numbers 7:89

89 When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the LORD spoke to him.


Stand still and listen

You cannot develop an intimate relationship with God without setting aside time to communicate with him. ‘When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him… and he spoke with him. The Lord said to Moses…’ (7:89 – 8:1).

God spoke to Moses (8:1; 9:1). Moses spoke with God (7:89). It was a two-way conversation. God spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a person speaks with a friend (12:8) – talking and listening at the same time, watching for each other’s reaction.

In the age of the Holy Spirit you are in an even better position than Moses. You no longer have to go to a particular place, like Moses did, you can be with God wherever you are. By the Spirit of adoption you are brought into an intimate and eternal conversation with God the Father (Romans 8:15–17,26–27).

This was the pattern: ‘The Lord spoke to Moses… So Moses told the Israelites… The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses’ (Numbers 9:1–5). The Israelites’ whole way of life was built upon obedience to what God had said to Moses in the place of intimacy. Your intimacy with God needs to overflow into the way in which you live your life. Put into practice the things that God shows you in the place of intimacy.

There are times when it is not always clear how God is guiding us. Again, Moses’ example is a good one. When the people asked Moses a difficult question to which he did not know the answer, he replied, ‘Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you’ (v.8). If you don’t know the right answer it is wise to ask people to ‘wait’. This gives you time to pray and to find out from God the right way forward.

Eugene Peterson translates, ‘Give me some time; I’ll find out what God says in your circumstances’ (v.8, MSG). The Amplified Bible says, ‘Stand still and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.’ In the busyness of life stand still and listen to what God wants you to do.


Lord, thank you that I can meet with you each day, speak with you and listen to you. Help me to hear what you are saying to me and to live today in this relationship of intimacy, simplicity and obedience.

Pippa adds

Looking at the Luke 2:43 passage, I have always wondered how Mary and Joseph managed to travel for a whole day before they noticed their son wasn’t with them. Although I do have to confess that once we went out to supper with some friends friends only to arrive at our destination to discover that we didn’t have one of our children. I felt rather embarrassed explaining this to our hosts and also a little anxious as to whether our child was safe and not too traumatised. I wonder if Mary and Joseph had the same discussion on the way back as we did as to whose fault it was. In both cases, thankfully, the children were safe. Jesus was in the temple talking with the religious leaders and our child was watching the TV!

Thought for the Day

When we are talking, we are usually merely repeating what we already know. When we are listening, we may learn something new.



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John Wimber, Healing Clinic Notes, (Pasadena CA. Fuller Seminary. 1988), 9.05.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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