Living Close to God (When You’re Not Good At It) by Gene Edwards was written for the spiritually handicapped. Edwards describes the “spiritually handicapped” as those who struggle with intimacy in their fellowship with God, who falls asleep during prayer, who has a difficult time focusing during prayer, or someone who lacks the “spirituality” displayed in other Christians.
The chapters are short and the text is easy to read and understand—even a new believer would be able to grasp the exercises suggested. Edwards explains how learning to fellowship with God need not be limited to rigid devotional times, or lengthy eloquent prayers. One doesn’t need a college degree, a high-school diploma, or even be able to read. Edwards makes some intriguing points concerning the education level of most of Jesus’ followers in the Bible, notably that they were 98 percent illiterate.
Living Close To God makes several suggestions to aid the “spiritually inept” in their journey to experience Jesus and hear His voice. Consistent throughout the book was the importance of slowing down–slowing way down–and speaking words of praise to Jesus. Edwards also talks at length about repeating portions of specific Scriptures out loud to God, along with proclaiming one’s love for God, rather than focusing on prayers of request or personal need. The author makes several useful suggestions that may help the reader “remember” to focus on the Lord for at least a few seconds every day.
I believe a new Christian would benefit most from this book, or perhaps someone who finds it easy to read/study things about God, but hasn’t developed an intimate relationship with Him. The person who seems to be too busy to slow down or the person raised in a legalistic environment who focused solely on “doing” may also find the tips in Living Close To God helpful.
The only problems I had with this book were of feeling pity for the author and the constant redundancy of the text. He stated many times how he had never been told how to experience Jesus on an intimate level while repeating the same “techniques” to aid in intimacy over and over again. I found it difficult to accept that he had never heard about praying Scripture before. Edwards also talked about the church not coming together to experience the presence of Jesus in this way, and I had to disagree with that. I’ve been to many churches that pray Scripture, encourage slowing down, being still, and listening to God.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone I know mainly because my Christian friends already adopt the tips he suggested. As I mentioned before, however, it may be perfect for a new Christian or one who, like the author, has never been shown how to rest in God’s presence, listen to His voice, and spend time praising Him through word and song.
(I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group and was not required to give a good review.)