Looking back over the years I’ve been a Christian, it has been an interesting ride for sure. There were times when God felt SO close, and times when I couldn’t feel Him at all. Times when I wanted nothing more than to devote my entire life to Him, and times when I struggled to care.
Isn’t that how it goes, though?
For better or for worse, our relationship with God is never something that happens automatically. Just like in a marriage or a relationship with a friend, a relationship with God is something that needs to be nurtured. It often requires time, work and discipline. And even then, there will likely come a time when you simply do not feel as close to God as you should.
At times like these, you have a choice. You can ignore the situation, letting your relationship with God slide onto the back burner. Or you can make the conscientious choice to improve your relationship so God doesn’t feel so far away. And here are six ways to do just that.
1. Evaluate Your Spiritual Life
The truth is, if God feels far away, it’s likely the result of something you are doing that you shouldn’t, or something you should be doing that you’re not. So, in seeking to restore your relationship when God feels far away, the first thing you need to do is to figure out what is causing the divide in the first place, if you can. Here are a number of questions you can ask yourself:
- Are you Earnestly Seeking Him?
How have your quiet times been lately? Are you reading the Word on a regular basis? Do you spend time in prayer? Are your prayers deep and heartfelt, or have they become shallow, weak and routine?
When it comes time to make an important decision, do you earnestly seek His will? Do you go to Him first in every situation? Do you look for ways to improve your walk and grow in faith every day? Are you surrounding yourself with other Christians and spending more time in Godly sources than in secular books and media?
Are you involved in a church and/or small group? Do you have Godly friends who keep you accountable? Do you put yourself in situations where your faith is strengthened, rather than diminished? Do you listen to Christian radio or watch Christian movies?
- Do You Have Sin or Disobedience in Your Life?
On the other hand, your distance may be caused by a poor decision you made, rather than a gradually wandering away. Ask yourself:
Is there anything God has asked you to do that you aren’t doing or anything He has asked you to stop doing that you have refused? Have you been sinful or disobedient in any area of your life, including the “more socially acceptable” sins such as worry, over-eating and jealousy?
Ask God to search your heart and reveal to you any junk you need to get rid of. Then do it.
2. Spend Some Time in Prayer
Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” In this verse, God is specifically talking to the Israelites, but I believe it applies to us as well. When we earnestly seek God, He will not hide from us. Even if it takes time, determination and repentance, we WILL find God when we earnestly seek Him with our whole hearts.
So, if God feels far away, have you tried specifically asking Him to reveal Himself to you?
No matter what you are feeling right now, your emotions are not too big for God. Your problems, worries, fears and frustrations are nothing He can’t handle. Even if He feels far away, know that He is listening and that He cares. Pour your heart out to Him in prayer and ask Him to reveal Himself and His plan to you in the process.
3. Dig in Deep to the Word
Far from just a dusty old book of rules, the Bible is full of trustworthy, inspiring passages that will give you the hope you need to make it through any tough time. Take these verses, for example:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Deuteronomy 31:6
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” –Hebrews 13:5
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” –Hebrews 13:8
If you want encouragement from someone who has been there, just read the Psalms. It will give you a whole new perspective and a big dose of encouragement no matter what type of trial you are going through.
4. Change Your Routine
Could it be that you’ve simply fallen into a rut, allowing your relationship with God to become routine? If so, a simple change of pace may be just what you need to liven things up a bit.
If you usually listen to upbeat praise and worship music, find some good hymns. Go for a walk outside or to a new location with a beautiful view. Try reading a different translation of the Bible or an inspiring new Christian living book.
Volunteer in a new area that is a little foreign to you. Pray Scriptures, traditional prayers or prayers from the heart–whichever form you aren’t as used to. Try Bible journaling, keeping a diary, or joining a new Bible study.
You never know what new habit or practice you’ll fall in love with until you try a few new ones.
5. Shift Your Focus
Sometimes, when God feels far away, it’s too easy to become inwardly focused and wallow in self pity. “Why me? What did I do wrong? Why is God doing this to me?”
And while it is good to take some time for self-examination, unfortunately, it’s also all too easy to become self-centered and selfish.
Fight this by intentionally placing your focus on others instead. Volunteer. Reach out to those around you. Get involved in church or another Christian community. Help others who have needs far worse than yours. Make a long list of all of the blessings in your life or all of the things you are thankful for.
Once you start focusing on meeting others’ needs instead of just your own, it won’t be long until you realize just how lucky you are and how good you already have it. And this spirit of thankfulness can really help you get back on track with God as you realize He’s still right there beside you, taking care of you, all along.
Related Reading: Why Christians Need More Trials
6. Wait Patiently
And lastly, if you’ve done all of that and you STILL feel far away from God, take heart. Just because you don’t understand God’s plan for you doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one. There may be something He’s waiting for, or it may be a matter of allowing His power to shine more brightly in your weakness.
God loves you and He will NOT leave you or forsake you, Hebrews 13:5 promises us that. Hang in there. There is a reason, and this season of waiting will not last forever. I promise.
Related Reading: When God Says Wait
Have you ever gone through a time when it seemed as though God was far away? How did you get through it?