For intro, see #1 in this series.
Barely visible against the sliver of moonlight penetrating the darkness of the plain, simple house, the figure of a man carefully stepped between the sleeping figures lying on the rug of woven reeds that lined the floor. Easing the door open, he stepped out alone into the dark coldness of night, carefully closing the door behind him. Leaving the comparative comfort of the house, he headed for a desolate hillside, faintly silhouetted in the darkness. There, unseen and unknown to the world around him, he spoke to God. As a son speaks to an affectionate Father.
The story is taken from Mark 1, where we're told: 'rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed' (v.35). Why do I share this story? Not (you may be pleased to hear) because getting up and going outside in the middle of the night is a necessary part of relating to God personally! But as an illustration of the fact that relating to God personally is something we will usually need to be deliberate about. At this time in our Lord Jesus' life there was little time for anything during the day. Earlier that night, at sunset, the entire city of Capernaum had gathered at the house where he was staying. In such circumstances, setting aside quality time to relate deeply and personally to God was impossible. Can you relate to that?
We don't face the pressures the Lord faced, but we face pressures nonetheless. Because we're influenced by the world (which largely ignores God), the 'flesh' (our old human nature, which tends to drift away from God) and the devil (those forces of spiritual evil, led by Satan, who oppose God) relating personally to God is rarely something that will happen naturally unless we deliberately choose to do so.
This is not to make us feel bad (see #1!), but to encourage us to be intentional about our relationship with God. Whether we go for a long walk once a month, set aside a time every day, meet to pray with a Christian friend - or leave the house tonight and head-out for a desolate place to be with the Lord! - let's gladly nurture life's most precious relationship as we would life's most precious relationship. Deliberately.