After a while, my conversations and my thoughts about religion and spirituality can begin to run together and become confusing. On this walk of mine, I now understand that speed can kill, whereas a slower pace, a more deliberate pace can prove to be much more enlightening.

At these times it is more important to be still rather than be quick to do something. Given the pace of what is going on in this world, things like prayer, peace, personal intimacy and balance take on new meaning when it comes to and through God.

I know you’ve heard many a preacher ask the question, “Do you have a personal relationship with God or Jesus?” Most people who profess to be Christian and are saved, categorically say yes. I know I have. But when I think about it, I oftentimes have to ask, do I really? This is when being still becomes very important (to me). How do you get personal with another human being, let alone God?

Personal relationships are the result of a whole set of experiences, challenges and events shared between people. Once established, like it or not, personal becomes a permanent state between you and that person(s). I just happen to believe the same is true between you and God.

You see, you can’t be intimate with another being until you’ve become personal. That’s just a fact. Look at how many relationships start with what you think and fool yourself into believing is intimacy, only to discover later when you want to relate personally, you find yourself trying to relate to an otherwise absolute stranger. If that can and does or has happened to you in this world, it should be easily understandable that it can happen in your dealings with the Lord.

In order to become personal, you have to share at some level who you really are, flaws, faults, secrets, dreams and aspirations. And yes, maybe even sin. Like a close personal friend or lover, you also have to confide in the Lord and through Jesus know He’s listening.

When I slow down and deliberately still my consciousness, that’s when it really makes sense to pray. Prayer as we know is a personal conversation, the kind that you have with someone whom you care about or someone who you believe cares about you. Prayer is an essential mechanism to relate those things you’re involved in, be they crisis- or love-based; those things of the body, mind and soul.

Let’s see then. Intimacy can be achieved only by establishing a close personal relationship. A close personal relationship can be established only by a conscious, consistent attempt to be transparent to someone else; no games, no defense mechanisms, no hidden agendas.

Prayer is the vehicle by which one establishes a framework for spiritual intimacy with God. This appears to be the key to the peace and balance I spoke of earlier. I’m not saying this is easy. I’m saying God has a wonderful way of reminding us to be still. Stop playing around and listen. Better yet, open yourself to His hugs and kisses. Cry on His shoulders. Ask for His help. Recognize that His counsel, much like that of a good, good friend, is maybe not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear because it is grounded in unconditional love for you.

Maybe you can deal with this on the fly, but I can’t. I just know if I equate my relationship with God to my best relationships here on earth, then I’ve got some work to do. There are still conversations (prayers) to be had, things to reveal and guidance to follow. I’m working to focus on the many blessings God has provided just for me. Jesus tells us being still is a good place to start. For what it’s worth, maybe you should stop, look and listen also.

May God bless and keep you always.

James A. Washington is the publisher at Dallas Weekly. He can be reached at dallasweekly.com.

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