“Lord be with us…” is an expression we often hear in public prayers. Sometimes it’s prayed as it relates to our family. Or in a closing prayer as we leave the assembly. Or in our daily Christian walk. I’ve also heard it applied to our services. “Lord be with as we worship today.”
I understand and appreciate the sentiment of that request. Nor am I critical of the expression per sae. However, maybe we ought to pray, “Lord, may we be with you.” James 4:8 admonishes, “Draw near to God and be will draw near to you.”
Drawing near suggests that God welcomes us to seek Him. To come to Him. To commune with Him. To communicate with Him. To enjoy fellowship with Him. In fact, Paul pictures God as calling us to leave behind the darkness of sin, and the fellowship of the world, and to come to Him. He declares that He will be our Father. And that we can be his children–His sons and daughter (2 Cor. 6:17-18). He desires that we be with Him.
Yet, the Bible teaches that the Lord is not “with us” when we engage in vain worship, defile the sanctity of the home, or fail to follow His Word in our daily lives. It is possible to draw near to God with hollow words. Jesus’ warning is real in this regard. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”(Matt 15:8-9).
If our worship is not in “spirit and in truth,” the Lord is not with us. If we fail to honor Him in our families, He is not with us. If we lack love for our “neighbor”, God is not with us. If we are dishonest in our business dealings, God is not with us. If we neglect our daily walk with Him, the Lord is not with us.
Part of the challenge may be our desire and effort to grow our relationship with God. In his book, One Holy Hunger, Mike Cope writes, “When our vision of God diminishes or fails to grow, Christianity becomes a tame, drab, lukewarm, safe religion that fits comfortably into our malnourished world view.” Could it be that we want to live as we please, asking for Divine favor, and neglect to “draw near to God?”
Our attitude needs to be like Asaph, the Psalmist, who penned, “But it is good for me to draw near to God;I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works” (PS 73:28).
As we assemble on the Lord’s day to sing, pray, listen to the Word, and enjoy fellowship. Let us draw closer to God, and pray that we be with Him. And as we leave to walk out into the world in which we live, work, and play, may we seek to walk in His way. Instead of trying to squeeze God into what we already feel, believe or practice, we need to draw near to God. Come to know His heart. His Word. His Plan for our lives. When we do that our Christian experience is enlarged and enlivened.
—Ken Weliever, The Preacherman