Last night I went along to a worship night at my church. I had a really nice time, caught up with some friends, sung along to some familiar tunes, prayed and praised and generally did my thing.
As the night progressed, people around me were being stirred by the spirit. I watched as many started crying or speaking in tongues, and some were even laying on the floor. I closed my eyes and prayed that I too would be able to have the same experience and that I would be overwhelmed by His presence.
But I honestly felt nothing.
This is something I think we can feel ashamed of, but some of my closest friends have admitted to me that they too struggle to really connect with God, even when they have their arms in the air and their mouths singing out lyrics of worship and adoration.
So what do we do about this?
Don’t try to force it
Last night I felt frustrated and honestly a little defeated, which is exactly the opposite of what I should have been feeling as I was praising God.
After about half an hour of trying to force a connection that I couldn’t feel, I simply sat down on the floor and closed my eyes. I didn’t pray for a while. I just sat and listened, allowing the words to fill my spirit. I finally felt peaceful and began to enjoy the experience. I realized that I had been so focused on trying to connect with God that I hadn’t actually allowed him in. I had been questioning what I was doing wrong, what trick I was missing, rather than turning my attention to all that He is.
I focused on what I was lacking rather than what He was offering.
We can’t force a connection with God. Relax and allow Him to whisper into your spirit.
Give the distractions to Him
In order to hear Him talk, we do actually have to be listening. I am the first to admit that as I worship I sometimes can’t help but think about something someone said to me earlier that day or a deadline that I’d been putting off. My mind wanders.
Instead of allowing these wandering thoughts to get the best of us, why not try to be honest about our distraction and lift it up to Him, instead of pretending it doesn’t happen?
It’s likely that whatever is diverting our attention is something that’s causing us some kind of anxiety. Worship is the time to bring these distractions to God rather than ignore them.
Go back to basics
Sometimes there are verses or particular lyrics that move us, and that’s great. God inspires those lyrics. But the one thing that should never fail to stir us is the love story of Jesus dying for us. The story is beautifully simple, and as I repeated it over and over in my head last night I let the reality settle and calm me. There is so much to learn and discuss when it comes to the Bible, but we must never forget the power of the gospel. As used to it as we are, as well as we think we know it—it can be often overlooked when it comes to drawing close to God.
If you are struggling to feel God’s presence, why not strip back your faith to its very core and whisper these words over yourself? Breathe them in and take some time to let their power move you:
Jesus was abused, rejected, mocked, and hated by many.
He was nailed to a cross.
He died and took the weight of our sin on His back.
He rose again.
We can now enter into a relationship with God and live in freedom.
You were lost.
Jesus called you by name.
You became found.
We don’t have to shout and scream and kick up a fuss to get God’s attention. When He feels distant, He is still working things for our good. He hears and knows us, so relax, draw close to Him, and allow Him to talk.