When God Seems Far Away

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Sometimes, no matter how much or how hard we pray, we crash headlong into the silence of God and seemingly unanswered prayer. Silent cries, wordless waiting, or banging away on heaven’s door is all part of a relationship with the One who is good and beyond us and our control.

If you’re struggling with unanswered prayer or a feeling that God is far away, try practicing these disciplines:

Show up. God is present in the middle of illness and busyness, even when we aren’t present to ourselves. You don’t need a perfect place or time. Be present to where you are, who you are and to the reality that God is with you.

Pay attention. Identify where you most experience God’s presence. Where does the veil between heaven and earth seem thinnest to you? Is it when you lie in bed at the end of the day, sing, hug your family, study, break bread with friends or worship with God’s people? Go to that single place and wait.

Tell the truth. Tell the truth about your failures, anxieties and doubts. Even if this makes you obnoxious, blaming and on edge, be honest with God.

 Detach from the outcome. God is not a cosmic vending machine, yet sometimes our prayers are so riddled with expectations about how God should answer that it feels like standing at the roulette table. Sometimes we are so attached to one outcome that we can’t see what God is doing. Step back and pray for God’s will and presence in the situation.

Give thanks. Gratitude (even if through gritted teeth) changes our perspective and gives us hope. As we practice giving thanks, the Holy Spirit rewires those complaining fight-or-flight neural pathways. Prayers of thanksgiving keep us connected to the heartbeat of love and life.

It doesn’t matter what technique you use. Just make some space to nestle against God’s side and sooner or later grace will come.

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photo credit: Dale Hanson Bourke

Adapted from True You–Overcoming Self-Doubt and Using Your Voice by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun and Tracey D. Bianchi. To order a copy, go to resources.