There are seasons of our faith life where we are on fire for God–we are ready to worship Him, eager to tell the world about Him, and we feel like we can see His fingerprints on every aspect of our lives.
And then there are seasons where it feels like God has gone silent.
Maybe you're about to make a big decision, and feel like He isn't around to give direction. Maybe you feel like you're under attack from all angles, but no one is there to protect you. Or maybe, nothing is actually wrong. Life feels pretty natural–nothing great, nothing bad, but you don't sense God's presence like you have in the past.
Here are 5 things to do when you're feeling far from God:
1. Borrow Prayers
Henri Nouwen wrote, "The crisis of our prayer life is that our minds may be filled with ideas of God while our hearts remain far from him." If you're feeling far from God, this might describe your prayer life.
We try to pray and even though we are thinking about God, we are far from Him in our hearts. In seasons like this, I love to borrow prayers.
We have access to God's Word and so many countless stories of people of faith who prayed to God in a diverse range of circumstances. Borrowing prayers can give you the words when you have none. If you do feel distance from God, there is probably someone in scripture whose story you can connect to and whose words you can borrow.
In Luke 11:1 the disciples asked, "Lord, teach us to pray," and I think we can echo this and ask the Holy Spirit to continually teach us to pray through seasons where we feel far from God.
2. Read God's Word
If you're feeling far from God, reading His Word might be the last thing you want to do. But, I know personally that it's usually exactly what I need be doing to hear from God.
The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and He has a fresh word specifically for you every time you sit down to encounter Him. In seasons where we feel distant from God, it's likely because we are the ones creating the distance. God is constant, so He isn't far from you. He has given us access to Him and has allowed us to boldly approach His throne.
Get into God's Word if you're feeling far from Him. He is present and ready to speak to you!
3. Get in Community
When I feel distant from God in my own life, it's often because I can't see Him. Usually in seasons where I feel far from God, it's because I have no idea what He is doing in my life. I might still be grateful for what I have and excited for God to move, but it feels like in those moments that He is inactive, distant, and almost missing entirely.
The best way to counter those feelings is by being in godly community, because even when we can't see what God is doing in our lives, we can see what He is doing in someone else's and usually someone else can point out what God is doing in our life.
I've experienced this in profound ways throughout my life. In one particular season, I remember having a tearful conversation with a friend who had been forced to resign from her job. I had gone through a similar difficult transition a year earlier, and I was able to point her to where I saw God at work even when she didn't. I remember her leaving the conversation with new hope because of the parallels our stories had. She had a new perspective on her suffering now that she saw the hope that God would redeem it.
Community does this. Reach out to someone and share about what you're going through–maybe they've been there before too.
4. Stick to a Routine
I'm a seven on the enneagram so routines naturally aren't really my "thing." But, I've actually come to love them. One of the qualities of God that I love so much and adore seeing in other people is consistency. God is always the same (Hebrews 13:8).
Routines aren't meant to make us overly legalistic, inflexible, or "religious" in a negative sense. Instead, they're meant to protect us when other areas of our life are shifting or inconsistent. I think of routines like an anchor. Having a routine of prayer, worship, Bible reading, and community, allows us to draw near to God and put down an anchor so that we don't drift too far away when the weather changes or the waves pick up.
I saw this quote on Pinterest, "Your discipline or lack of discipline will protect you or expose you from disaster. Practice discipline. Be consistent."
Consistently showing up to draw near to God even in seasons where He feels far away allows our souls to stay anchored in every season, and by being consistent, we are being like God.
5. Start to Notice
If you've read anything I've ever written you've probably noticed I always quote Mary Oliver, and one quote in particular, "attention is the beginning of devotion."
In order to be devoted to anything, we have to first pay attention. I am convinced that one of the biggest attacks on our relationships with God is simply distraction. We are busy people who live hurried lives and often miss the point.
In C.S. Lewis' famous book The Screwtape Letters a demon writes to a younger demon about how to get a human further from God. He talks about distraction saying, "you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do."
When we feel far from God, I think it's often because we are distracted and our attention is somewhere else. God is always available to us as a friend and as a Father. When we are feeling far from God, we can start by practicing paying attention.
Take time to notice what God is doing in your life, in the lives of others who you know, in your community or in your church. Notice the little things throughout your day where you can see the presence of God in creation or in connections, conversations, or relationships. The more you notice God, the closer you will feel to Him and His Spirit because your attention will lead to greater devotion.