One of my favorite prayers is that of Sir Richard (1197-1253). He studied and taught at Oxford University and became the Bishop of Chichester (a city in England). It is said that on his death bed, he prayed the following words:
“Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us; for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly; for thine own sake.”
We have much to be thankful for as Christians, for we have been blessed greatly by Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. My attention to Sir Richard’s prayer was drawn to the part that talks about knowing, loving, and following, in that order; knowing more clearly, loving more dearly, and following more nearly.
In my own personal experience, the more I have gotten to know Jesus on a personal basis, not just have knowledge about Him, the more I have come to love Him; there is so much to love. As my love for Him has grown, He has become more dear to me, and my desire to walk more closely with Him has increased as well.
It is in getting to know someone on a more personal basis that our love either develops more fully, or falls by the wayside. As an example, I thought about my married life. There were times in our marriage when we didn’t necessarily like each other too well, but with the passage of time, and my discovery of the real person, my love for her has grown by leaps and bounds. We have learned what trust is all about, and how to look beyond self to the needs of others. And out of that loving relationship has come the desire to walk together more closely each and every day. We have been walking together on our journey of life for over sixty-two years.
One of the major problems facing people who get married today, is the fact that they haven’t taken the time to get to know each other very well. Building a close relationship requires a heavy investment of time and effort on our part. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
In a like manner, many people are satisfied to know a little bit about Jesus, and never grow to develop a personal relationship. What a shame! Once we get to know Jesus as a person, we cannot help but love Him, and it is in the love that accompanies that knowledge that we are able to surrender self unconditionally to Him, and trust Him to show us the way we should go.
Get to know Jesus; you’ll grow to love Him, and it will be so much easier to follow Him all the way.