A Busy Leader’s Guide to Pursuing Intimacy with Christ

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I will never forget my pastor’s prayer over me when introducing me to the congregation as the church’s new women’s ministry director. He prayed, “May Judy find delight in spending time with You in prayer and worship just because she’s Your daughter and not only because she’s a ministry leader. Give her a hunger to dwell in Your Word, just to be with You and know more of Your Word!”

I sensed he was praying out of his own heart’s cry as a pastor who had to prepare a sermon every week to teach a congregation of over 6,000 people. I can’t imagine that kind of pressure, and I’m sure it’s easy to fall into approaching God’s Word as a textbook to prepare the next message.

As ministry leaders, we can often fall into the trap of approaching our time in God’s Word as more of a “to-do” than a delight. And too often our commitment to seek His face through prayer can get pushed to the side in the midst of the tyranny of the urgent. The irony of that struck me after I had been a full-time ministry leader at my church for several years. I became a ministry leader because of my love for the Word and prayer, but it didn’t take long for that passion to diminish as I tried to meet ministry’s demands.

Perhaps you can relate?

Or perhaps you had set a goal to spend more time in prayer and the Word this year, and you already find it has been crowded out of your calendar. Instead of approaching “time alone with Him” as a task on our to-do list or as an elusive, guilt-inducing goal, let’s see it as a means to pursue intimacy with Christ. Here are some practical ways to do that while leading others:

1. Pray About It

If you want to pursue more time alone with the Lord, pray about it. At the beginning of this year, I cried out to the Lord, asking Him to take my prayer life to the next level. I told Him that I want to actually pray more than I talk about the importance of prayer. I’ve even chosen “prayer” as my word for this year, and I’ve asked my closest friends and family to hold me accountable by checking in and boldly asking if I’m praying more consistently.

Ask God to give you the margin to find more time to be alone with Him in His Word, to worship, and to pray. If your heart is really seeking more of Him and you cry out to Him, He will be faithful to help you make a way.

2. Find Time

This is where prayer can get tricky and cross over into a legalistic to-do list item rather than action out of a heart’s cry, but I have found that I must have a portion of my day devoted to time alone with Him or it won’t happen. Early mornings before work are best for my empty-nest stage of life. You know what works best for you.

Finding time to be alone with Christ may not seem realistic if you’re a mom of young children. One of the strongest voices I have found for practical ways to spend time with Jesus while mothering little ones is Asheritah Ciuciu. She is an author, a blogger, a Bible study teacher, and a mom of three little ones. Many of her books and blog posts are geared toward young moms who love Jesus. Asheritah describes how she finds creative ways to be in His Word in her Bible study He Is Enough: Living in the Fullness of Jesus:

Many of us may be tempted to skip Bible study altogether if we can’t fit in a 30–45-minute inductive study of Scripture. But we’re better off grabbing a bite of Scripture or a moment of prayer than completely ignoring our spiritual nutrition. After all, there’s no command in the Bible that states, “Thou shalt start each morning with an hour of inductive Bible study and prayer.” In fact, quite the opposite is true: throughout biblical times, we find great variety and creativity in the ways God’s people approached Him from morning through night—praying honest prayers saturated with Scripture, reciting memorized Scripture, offering worshipful songs filled with Scripture, and yes, even reading Scripture. And that’s okay. Because while we may consume Scripture in different ways in different seasons, nothing can replace God’s Word in our lives. As we nourish our souls in God’s presence, His Bread of Life will both satisfy us and make us hunger for more. But whether we eat this spiritual fare in one big meal or in small bites throughout the day is entirely up to us, and this may look different from month to month or even from day to day.1

3. Be Accountable

I have found that I am more consistent in my study of God’s Word and in prayer if I have a prayer partner or trusted friend holding me accountable. I’ve already shared how I’m doing that with some friends with my new focus on prayer this year. Having sisters in Christ asking you how you’re doing in finding time alone with Him is always a good way to remain consistent.

I encourage you to consider joining or starting a Bible study in your local church, or even online with other women who want to go deeper into His Word together. Revive Our Hearts, Moody Publishers, and LifeWay all offer excellent, in-depth women’s Bible studies with daily homework that you can do on your own or with a group of women in your home or church. Over twenty years ago, God began to draw me back to a love for His Word by leading an outreach Bible study with women in my neighborhood. I found that doing daily homework helped me form a habit of being in His Word every day which then continued as I led women’s ministries over the years.

4. Extend Grace to Yourself

So often, striving to have time alone with the Lord can shift into legalism or monotony. If that happens, extend yourself grace and return to crying out to God in prayer, asking Him to make you desperate for more of His Word and deeper intimacy with Him. He will be faithful in answering that prayer. As we are told in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” What a powerful promise to cling to as we seek to know more of Him.

I’d love to hear the creative ways you’ve found to remain consistent with taking time alone with God in His Word and in prayer. Share how we can be praying for you about this area in the comments below.

1 Asheritah Ciuciu, He Is Enough: Living in the Fullness of Jesus (Chicago: Moody, 2018), 10–11.

About the Author

Judy Dunagan

Judy Dunagan is an acquisitions editor for women's books and Bible studies at Moody Publishers. She has a heart for discipleship and making God's Word and prayer come alive in everyday life. She is the author of the book The Loudest Roar: Living in the Unshakable Victory of Christ. Judy and her husband Rick live in Colorado. Connect at Judy.Dunagan.com