Oh goodness. There have been many many times in my life when I couldn’t feel God’s presence. Sometimes I would practically beg Him to “show up”. I was there; why wasn’t He? I’ve been angry, I’ve been sad, I’ve been frustrated – I’ve even wondered why I still believe in Him if He wasn’t going to be there for me. I would even get jealous of others who seemed to have it all together when it came to being close to God. They just seemed so SURE of themselves and of God. They were so joyful, so peaceful, so content because God filled their hearts. And then, there was me. Asking God, begging God, yelling at God to get into my heart already. I sometimes felt like I didn’t really believe in God – that I wanted to believe but I really didn’t. And yet, when the going got tough, I’d turn to Him. When things were really good, I’d thank Him. It was such a paradox.
The more mature I become in my spiritual journey though, the more I realize that God wasn’t the problem in our relationship. You know the old “It’s me, not you”? Well that was completely true. It was all me.
The question then became, what to do when you can’t feel God’s presence in your life. Practical steps, not airy fairy philosophical ideas, that would allow me to really work towards a closer relationship with God – that’s what I was looking for!
- If I can’t feel God’s presence, it’s most likely because I have put up a wall between us. God is there, on the other side waiting for me to break it down and invite Him in. REALLY REALLY invite Him in – not just by saying hollow words but by backing those words up with actions. If you really want God to be a part of your life, then you will really want to change your life to truly make Him a priority. Just remember, God has been there all the time even if it felt like He was far away.
- What can you do to truly put God first? Get more involved at Church. Seek out Christian entertainment. Form a Christian study or prayer group. Read more Christian literature. Sing Christian songs. Find ways to add a godly focus to every aspect of your life.
- Search your heart and soul for any sin that has taken hold there. Ask God to reveal it to you. Take steps to move away from your sin.
- Spend more time in quiet prayer. “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. God never hides from those who seek Him. We are the ones who put up the roadblocks. Invite God in and make Him welcome.
- Read your Bible more. Get some study guides to help you really dig into it. Read it and when you find passages that truly speak to you, read them again. And again. Write the passages down and post them around your house so you can be reminded of those words.
- Shake things up a bit. Do you usually listen only to traditional hymns? Try some more modern Christian music. Bored or feel like you can’t get into God’s Word? Try a different translation. Take your worship outside. Pray in the morning sunshine. Talk to God while walking along the beach or through the forest. Try a new way of praying like Lectio Divina. Talk to God through a prayer journal. Learn a new method of Bible study.
- Stop thinking about yourself (and feeling sorry for yourself) so much. Reach out and help others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, for the prayer ministry at a prison, or in a shelter. Giving to others will show you a different perspective and make you feel good. Ask others how they are and truly listen. Ask them what you can do to help them.
- Simplify your life. Perhaps you just have too much – too much stuff, too much activity, too much everything to be able to really hear God speaking to you. Get rid of the excess. Give items away to those who truly need it. Trim your schedule to what really matters.
- Take care of yourself. Sometimes when we are overtired or not eating well or otherwise living a less than healthy life, it’s hard to put any effort into anything beyond existing from day to day.
- Bring God into all areas of your life. We don’t have to set aside special time – church, Bible study, prayer time – and think that these are the only times we can invite God in. Chat with God while doing the laundry or cooking dinner, sing songs of praise while driving the kids to school or running errands, ask God to show you how you can do your job in such a way as to please Him.
Know that this happens to everyone. We all go through our spiritual deserts and even though those around you seem to have it all together and have the “perfect” relationship with God, you just likely aren’t seeing their struggles. Don’t run away from God. This is the time to reach for Him even more. Keep going and keep the faith.