Let that soak in a bit and then join me and others who confess that we could be closer to God in our relationship with him, but we are too busy with the kids, with work, with movies, with vacations, with__________ (you fill in the blank.)
From what I detect in the study of those Bible characters we consider "successful" in their relationships with God, there is one element they all seem to have in common. That element is the art of listening. God spoke and they listened to him. Could that be part of our problem?
While I have never heard the audible voice of God, I do know God speaks to us. The whole purpose of preserving his words and his dealings with the people of old is for our good as much as theirs. We gain tremendous insight into the workings of God when we are familiar with the Bible stories of old, and countless times we can receive God's instruction for us, simply by reading how he handled similar situations for the people of the early Bible stories. So he speaks to us through the Bible, his Word.
There is more for us to consider. If we are the redeemed people of God, then we have been promised he lives in us, in the form of his Holy Spirit. The function of the Spirit living in us is to comfort us, direct us, lead us, and help us. That is another way we can listen to God, if we pay attention to the nudging and leading of the Spirit which lives in us. The Holy Spirit has been known to lead us in the direction to meet someone that needs to hear about Jesus, or to someone that needs our prayerful attention.
That's how important listening is to the child of God. Those who think they would be more successful in maintaining a right relationship with God if they had lived in biblical times, need to understand the concept of intense listening today! But, there's more.
I have noticed these which we call the "successful" Bible characters not only listened to God, they were obedient to God. Here comes part two of our failure to have the closeness in our relationship with God. We have conditioned ourselves to believe knowing ABOUT God is the equivalent to knowing God. Simply reading the Bible will let us know about God. We can memorize the entire Bible and quote it word for word and know as much as anyone else about God. Actually knowing him in a one on one relationship requires action on our part.
So God speaks, and we listen. The intimacy of the relationship can only exist when we are obedient to the things he says.