When You Want to Feel Closer to God

Sharon JaynesA Sudden Glory, Expectant Living, Living Fully 28 Comments

Have you ever felt that your love for Jesus has just grown cold? Maybe you feel that way right now. If so, keep reading…

Most of us come to Christ with a certain “inloveness”—a stirring of emotion mixed with an inexplicable knowing that we’ve discovered our reason for being. But some years into our spiritual journey, the wonder that swelled during the early years ebbs into routine religion laced with busyness. And we secretly question the point of it all.

There has to be more than this, we muse. What am I missing? What’s wrong with me? I’m doing all the right things, but God seems so far away. I’m trying as hard as I can, but it never seems to be enough. What does God really want from me anyway?

For decades, as I have had the privilege of ministering to women, I have heard the same heart-cry from those who desire to have a deep, intimate, exuberant relationship with Christ but don’t know how to find it.

Here’s part of one email:

Here’s the crux of my problem. After I gave my life to Christ, I joined a church and began reading the Bible daily. Yet, I never experienced that overwhelming feeling of change that so many others experience. In my quiet times, when I seek to know Him better and wait quietly for answers, I do not get the nudges that others talk about. I know that some people hit rock bottom and then experience a dramatic life change accompanied by an emotional high. I sometimes wonder if I will have to experience some great trial in order to have the wonderful feelings of a true relationship with Christ.

I try to start each day with quiet time, scripture reading and prayer. I try to have a God-focused day. Is something wrong with me? Do other women feel this emptiness too? Should I be feeling something more? What more should I be doing? I know Christ loves me, but something is missing and I don’t even know what it is. What should I do?

—Stephanie (Not her real name. Used by permission.)

Perhaps you can relate. You long to feel close to God but sense there’s just something lacking, that you’ve missed the mysterious formula to make it happen. I call this a “glory ache” —a persistent longing to experience God’s presence on a daily basis. Perhaps like most women, you’ve tried desperately to balance the montage of mundane demands and somehow slip God into the white spaces that are few and far between.

You long to spend time in the sacred with God, but find the desire crowded out by the responsibilities of the secular—the daily demands—that lay claim to your attention. You yearn to experience God’s presence, but feel far away from Him as you reach to click off the bedside lamp and collapse exhausted once again. Maybe tomorrow, you sigh.

The travesty is that we allow the busyness of life to crowd out the Source of life. As the Psalmist wrote, “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing” (Psalm 39:6

And most of us are quick to think ‘something more’ means ‘doing more.’ We ramp it up and gun the engines—sign up for a new committee, volunteer for a new cause, bake one more casserole to feed the sick.

We attempt to silence the hunger pains of the heart by feeding it the bread and water of duty. And at the end of the day, while we might feel a self-induced sense of well-being, the hollowness in our soul that can only be satisfied with God echoes with the grumblings of hunger still.

We long for a sense of closeness with God, but we have a hard time putting our finger on exactly what that closeness would look like. It’s just something more. Something different.

And we are quite right. We are craving the closeness that comes with an intimate relationship with Jesus.

In Acts 17:28 Paul wrote: “For in him we live and move and have our being” (NIV). That means every moment all the time. He also wrote: “Pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17 NIV). That means every moment all the time. But how in the world do we do that with everything else we have to do?

Here’s the key. It’s not a separate activity, but a lifestyle—a lifestyle of union and communion with God. It’s not an activity for your to-do-list to be checked off, but an attitude for you to-be-list to be wrapped in.

Dear Lord, soothe my glory ache with Your presence. Help me to stay in constant communion and union with You no matter what else I have going on today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

How would you explain “pray continually” to someone? Leave a comment and lets compare notes.

Do you long to feel close to God but sense there’s something missing? That you’ve missed that mysterious formula to make it happen? Do you have a glory ache – a persistent longing to experience God’s presence and working in your life, but not quite sure how to make it happen? If so, my book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More, is just for you. Join me and discover how to erase the lines between the secular and the sacred and experience a deeper more intimate relationship with God than ever before

And don’t forget to check out Sharon’s new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories! I know they can!

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Comments 28

  1. Pray continually…. give everything you do to God. If your driving have Him drive. Vacuuming, have Him help, cooking habe Him cook with you. Put everything you do all day to prayer!
    Not taking credit, this is an affirmation of what I heard this just morning in my Best Lent ever daily video!
    God speaks and affirms that shiny is good!

  2. I’d say, as we go about our “daily doings,” when any angst, fear, frustration, tasks that seem to come out of nowhere (those that normally scream for us to give it the attention it’s needs (a knob fell off a drawer😳), see these times as sweet invitations from the Holy Spirit to “have a little talk with Jesus…tell Him all about your troubles, He will hear our faintest cry, and He’ll answer by and by; when you feel a little prayer wheel turning, feel a little fire burning, you will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right!”

    1. I love this! Take those moments of frustration and have a conversation with God. Doesn’t have to be necessarily about the problem, but just let Him know you want to talk. He will most certainly answer you!

  3. Hi. Like the lady mentioned I too suffered frustrations and seeking that close intimacy with Jesu. Until I realised I was pushing my own will to hard. During lockdown I have been encouraged to dig deeper into the word of God, allowing myself the time and the love of who he is to sink into my soul. My time now is beginning to be transformed into a beautiful relationship knowing now his character and my true identity in him.
    I am in the process with my study group, reading a book called “The other half of Church” by Jim wilder & Michael Hendricks.
    We must remember at all times God is Love, a Hesed joyous love that we cannot deny ❤️🙏🏽

  4. This is my story! Every morning I pray that I will put God first and He will be my first priority ALL day. Them in the evening I adk-When was the last time I thought about God today?

    1. Marcia I am right with you! Each morning before I get out of bed, I tell Jesus I will keep him first and then each night as I crawl into bed I confess that I failed! It’s our job to keep on and keep Jesus First! We must just keep praying all day. May God richly bless you today,Marcia, in Jesus name,Amen

  5. I love how you explained this and I will be sharing it with my girls. So often, we want a formula (a to-do), but God just want my heart and my mind. Abide is the word that comes to mind, staying with Him throughout my day for all of it: acknowledging beauty in my walk, crying for help, coming often to die to self, interceding for a friend or a child, asking Him for the words to speak, giving Him thanks and glory for answers and praises, and waiting, which is the hardest.

  6. I pray everywhere.. I’m not picky about where it happens. Driving in my car, sitting out on my deck looking at the beauty God has created, when I’m sitting on St Simons Island beach, and just about anywhere else. When something strikes me I pray., maybe 2 sentences I have my daily struggles of feeling overwhelmed by this world and little snippets of prayer keep me sane. 😊😊😊

  7. Hi pray continually for me means keep praying even when you don’t feel like it. Its easy to pray when things are going well but it’s tough to talk and thank God when things don’t work the way I want them. Many times I fail to keep at it but the times I did continue praying during my many not so good excuses God overwhelmed me with His peace

  8. This is excellent, and full of the truth. Doing for God (Martha) and being for God (Mary) feels like the challenge of every woman. The answer for me is to sit at His feet more, to “be” more, not just “do”.

  9. Sharon, thank you again for finding an area that I think may afflict all of us at some point in our lives. One of the things that I have found that helps me in those “not quite there” times is being in a weekly study with other women. This gives everyone a way to share those empty moments and discuss them more in depth without feeling un-Chirstian . When you hear how God has worked , changed, encouraged, lifted, and refilled others; it will give you insight and ways to fill yourself again. There is no set things “to do” it has to start in finding contentment within your self and then understanding that no matter “how you feel” …God loves you with a never ending love, He knows your heart, your desires to be closer to Him, it is a deep acceptance of that knowledge over “feelings”. Continue to read His word but most of all pray…talk to Him..stop and look around at what all God gives to show His love. It may be seeing a hummingbird outside your window, a cool wind on a hot day, a beautiful sunset, beautiful birdsong, a child’s smile and giggle, God’s love is all around us. Accept and look for these things and you will see that He does hear and is showing Himself in even the smallest of things.

    1. Love your comment. After my divorce, my Lord along with my home group helped me tremendously. Sharing and fellowshipping with other believers are essential. Thank you and God bless you.

  10. Lately God is inviting me to slow dance with him. When I so often want to jitterbug or line dance. When you slow dance you have to follow completely and relax, let your partner lead. This is where I struggle, I often want to speed up the pace and I end up up stepping on toes. He has been telling me just follow, just relax, for His yoke is easy….trust Him to lead with soft hands. 😇💗🙏

    1. What a neat analogy. I love how you have described dancing with Jesus. Good food for thought. I’m not a dancer but I get it. Thanks

  11. I used to think that I hadn’t done enough because that’s what religion has taught us to do- “bread and butter of the heart”- I love that Sharon. Our initial encounter with Jesus brought us into a relationship, however we have elevated the disciplines of Christianity into religious doings, rather than recognising our being. Jesus never elevated his doing over his being, and we have done the complete opposite! Praying without ceasing for me starts with recognising that we are sons and daughters with God, and we are In Christ (one with God), and that we can’t be separated from him – the Psalmist said “where can I hide from your presence God?” Sadly religion has taught us that we have to do, to receive, and misguided us relationally. I think it’s the opposite in Christ. Jesus knew his Father – we have an invitation to know ours too, and as a by product, we can “pray continually” as Jesus did.

  12. Thank you Sharon + all comments above. I could echo/relate to it all too. I am blessed to be retired now. I can + do spend more ‘quiet time’ due to that and the pandemic. Listening to God is hard but I find the day will go better. I don’t hear His actual voice but just a feeling or hear just the right song. Open Bible and I will read just what I need. I do journal to Him as well – sort of like talking to Him about my days and prayers. It seems to center me. I used to sing 🎶 or pray on my way to work. Even if it is short, the day is more peaceful. If you miss, pray at lunchtime or nap time if you’re at home with a 👶. God understands busyness.

  13. ‘Pray continually’ ..being conscious of the presence of God always. ‘A thank you God’ when you experience those awesome intervention in your daily walk or work, a plea for God’s help when situations seem to overwhelm you. A word or a song of worship when you see the beauty of His creation in and around you daily. A heart of appreciation when you think of your family, your children especially, for His care and love bestowed on them.

  14. Pray continually means talking to God. Having conversations with Him throughout the day. I find myself saying thank you God often every day because I’m constantly being reminded of the little things God is doing. Those 3 words are prayer. I don’t want to miss the small things by always looking for the big miraculous.

  15. Thank you Sharon for addressing this topic. Prayer is such a privelege, a gift to us from God, made possible through our Savior Jesus Christ who intercedes for us. The Holy Spirit helps us, every day, to pray, bringing to our mind what and how to pray. Like all these women have said, it’s seeing YAHWEH in everything and talking to Him about anything and everything. HE is our constant companion that never leaves nor forsakes us. Praise You Lord and thank You for the gift of continual communion with You.

  16. Dear Sharon:
    I am 54 years young and in 2014, when I and my family were facing many challenges: my dad diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, my mom diagnosed with dementia, and my marriage was in big trouble; my youngest, 15 years, had health issues that required major surgery and there was never a cause found for that, but he also suffers from severe anxiety and depression since than. He did attempt one overdose on Benadryl a week before his senior pictures, 2016.
    I just remembered seeing girlfriends in god posts, and I prescribed to that and still read them daily and reread my favorites. (Which are many and I save them and some uplifting scripture and images to my phone and iPad, so that when I am at work or wherever I can be reminded and uplifted by God and you wonderful women of ministry! )
    I feel so blessed and did not know it at the time in 2014, January. All my life I have felt Jesus in some form or ways he was listening to me.
    But I gave my life to god and asked Jesus to take over in 2014, I could barely function and I am a nurse.
    I don’t have a schedule I give myself grace and have made and continue to make mistakes! I am thankful for everything I have and most importantly I have God and with Jesus in me all things are possible I have learned! I get that from my mom who was a prayer warrior, she was the best person I ever had known! She passed from Alzheimer’s last year right before this pandemic, which was a blessing because not being able to see her would have been terrible on both sides, my dad passed in 2014. My son is struggling more Andrew since mom passed he had a wonderful relationship with Mom.
    I keep asking God to bless me with another day, and iwilldomy best to be a better person than the day before! I ask for his blessings to help be quicker to listen slow to speak and slow to anger!
    I am loving this life, learning the Bible scripture and what it means for the first time! I work full time , and I make time everyday whenever I have a chance to thank God for my life! I love you all for what I have learned and continue to learn! I am who God says I am, and I am ok that I am still figuring it out but I know I am a child of God!

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  17. Shelly, your story is almost a mirror image of mine!! Mom and Dad admitted to Hospice care on the same day. Mom had battled Alzheimer’s for 13 years and my Dad was suddenly diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer. Dad passed away in 2006 and my Mom in 2009. My daughter adored my Dad and she took it hard. Panic attacks, mental health issues, suicide attempt, several voluntary admissions to hospitals then she turned to drugs and wound up addicted to cocaine. We had taken her to church every Sunday, she went to our church preschool, Sunday evening little lambs program; but still I asked how did this happen. We finally had to give her an ultimatum – hardest thing her father and I had ever done- and she chose to leave our house when she was 19. We didn’t know where she was for 6 months. She finally hit rock bottom and went to a friends house who went to church with us and had tried to help her. My friend called me and said she was there and wanted to talk. My preacher and I went to see her and it was shocking but she finally wanted help. She’s been clean ever since. Still struggling with the mental health issues but has a strong faith. Through all that I relied strongly on God. I confess that since then I feel like I’m lost. I know I need to work on my relationship with God and make it my top priority but I just feel empty. I think deep down I’m still angry over losing my parents and all the stuff my daughter went through and still is going through. I’ve just never admitted. Thanks for listening and I would appreciate your prayers as I’m sure we all need them. Take care everyone

  18. Someone has been reading my story, I feel this way and it is such a strong hold in my life. When I first became a Christian, wow I was on cloud 9 , I got to experience His anointing in my life and words cannot express His overwhelming joy , but as I got older it changed and now I feel like I’m in the desert. But not giving up hanging in there until I get back to. It is like a marriage, you fall deeply in love when you first get together, but as time goes on things get in the way. And your love seems to drift apart. And you feel like you have both gone in different directions. So for me you never give up. on Him and His love will draw us back to Him

  19. “Oh Abba,

    I DESIRE to BREATHE you in, moment by moment.
    I will not stop wrestling in prayer and communion, till my whole being mirrors YOUR SON, CHRIST JESUS.

    All for Your glory alone!”

  20. Personally, I have found that many times when I feel distant to God, it is because of sin in my life that I am not fully aware of and have not confessed. When I finally accept that SOMETHING is wrong, I quiet down, ask God to show me and read the bible to hear His response. He is always faithful to show me.. although my flesh does not like it!

  21. I am 56 years old and if I have learned anything about myself with regards to my relationship with the LORD it is that I am consistently inconsistent. Thankfully, He is faithful regardless of my unfaithfulness. I remind myself that there is nothing that can separate me from his love and that his love for me is not dependent upon the way I feel or what I do (or don’t do).
    There is one thing I do that always makes the connection I crave to have with God happen and that is to worship him. I put on YouTube videos (Bethel music, Hillsong, Natalie Grant, etc.) turn up the volume, close my eyes, and sing out loud. I close my eyes because I can easily become distracted by things I “need” to do. When we worship our Father we are drawing close to him and scripture tells us to draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).

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