Ilearned to protect my intimacy with God early on in my Christian life. It is not that I hoard my relationship with God for fear that another person will become His favorite. It is just that somehow the very intimate aspects of a relationship seem to me to become common and profane when verbalized.
Everyone who has ever been in love knows that code words,” special things people say to each other, would sound silly or worse if exposed to scrutiny. There is such an intimate level of knowing God that we must seek privately, and it has much to do with prayer.
I am not an expert, but I think of prayer in terms of levels, and I have found at least five. Each level is important and each serves a different purpose.
Beginning with the least intimate, the first level is a public prayer, perhaps saying grace or adding an “Amen” in church.
The second level is the prayer of concern, which involves more consciousness. On this level we bring serious petitions before the Lord, express concerns, remember those things for which thanksgiving and praise are due to God, and offer up those praises and expressions of thanks. While we may think of this as spontaneous prayer, it is often based on verbal patterns that we’ve learned to use. Biblical Psalms as well as spiritual songs or hymns often serve as a basis for these prayers. One way of entering into the attitude (position) of prayer is by reading or singing or repeating from memory these Psalms or hymns.
The third level involves wrestling with God—holding on to that which we earnestly desire, as Jacob held on until he received the blessing. Such wrestling takes more than a few moments. It might be interspersed with Scripture reading. Often this is the level at which we add fasting to raise our level of awareness.
The fourth level is usually non-verbal. It may include moanings, groanings, laughing, and possibly ecstatic utterances. But there might also be regular words at this level. I believe we are most likely to hear God speaking to us on the third and fourth levels. The Bible uses the word “meditation” in reference to the personal and intimate prayer that I’m speaking of as levels three and four.
The fifth level is the most profound level I’ve found. This level is usually silent, but it is beyond contemplation or meditation. Perhaps it is best described as a non-verbal communion of soul to soul, an inexplicable experience of spiritual touching and feeling. I wouldn’t say much more than this because the experience loses something in the telling. I would just encourage you to take the time with God where you open yourself to this level of intimacy with Him.
I would also suggest exercises in what I call “C&M,” meaning Contemplation and Meditation. Read the Scriptures, then stop and consider what you’ve read. See if it evokes any prayer in you. Sometimes it might bring a song to mind. If you’re in private, even if you don’t consider yourself a singer, sing it. Sometimes the Scripture will bring a question for you to ask God. Sometimes it won’t bring anything. But just stop for a moment. “Be still and know that I am God” is His commandment to us.
*This is part of a lesson Moishe delivered to the staff.