Recently, I was asked to share what I do when I do not feel close to God. In the hope that you may be encouraged (as I was as I formed my answer), here is how I responded.
When I find myself not feeling close to God…
First, I remind myself that this is a frailty common to man, and while it should not be treated lightly, it is not unexpected. God will work this, too, for my good!
Next, I thank God for making me aware of this lack of closeness and causing me to care about it (because I know there are many who are not close to Him and do not even realize it or care much). As I pray, I recall former times when there was a sweet intimacy and I ask Him to work in my heart, pulling me away from whatever is currently usurping or disturbing my affections, and again moving my heart toward Him.
I read works written by people who know/knew God well. I find many Puritan works especially helpful, such as those by John Bunyan, John Flavel and Jeremiah Burroughs.
I spend time meditating on the greatness of God–
- His sovereignty
- His power
- His love for His people
I tell someone close to me, such as my husband, how I am feeling and ask him to pray for me (sometimes I will ask a few others as well).
I review all I’ve learned from the psalmists who felt far away from God. I read and reread psalms such as Psalm 73, 77 and 88 and review the notes I made when I first studied and wrote lessons on these psalms.
Finally, I wait on God. Intimacy with God is not just something I can wish into being or produce on my own . . . as with everything else, it is a gift from God. I know He is faithful and will bring me into greater intimacy with Himself in His own timing. So, as I thankfully and expectantly wait, I do the things I know to do which foster intimacy (Bible reading and study, prayer, meditation, confession, talking about God with others, etc.) and I constantly remind myself that even though I do not feel close to God, He is close . . . and my lack of feeling does nothing to diminish the reality of His care and love for me.