What To Do When You Don’t “Feel” God

Let’s be honest. We all have those seasons.

 

Dry. Tired. Lost.

 

You think God doesn’t love you. You haven’t felt His presence or joy in days or months. You keep asking yourself, “what am I doing wrong? Am I being punished?”

 

Everyone goes through the desert. In fact I’d be hard pressed to find a Christian who hasn’t gone through that season of spiritual emptiness.

 

Too many times we want to zip through the valleys and only dwell in the mountaintops. The truth is without the valleys there’d be no such thing as mountaintops. Also we shouldn’t blame God when it rains in our life. Without rain, nothing grows. He knows, He is near, and we can trust that He is good and He is our Father. Instead of praying that God would take us out of the desert, we should pray that God would teach us while in the desert.

 

Whenever we have those dry spells though the enemy likes to creep in and spread a few lies in order to isolate us from our faith family and make us run from the open arms of God. Below are three things I’ve learned and have to remind myself of every time I’m in one of those seasons.

1. Stay in church community. Don’t go lone ranger.

Whenever we feel unloved by God, or like we have no “power or strength” from him our first inclination is to run. We feel dirty. We feel unwelcome. We feel unloved. We isolate and hide. The best thing we can do when that is happening is to intentionally surround ourselves with our brothers and sisters of the faith. They can pray for us. They can encourage us. They can share their similar stories. We are all in this together. Trying to weather a storm as a single tree will leave us completely shredded and uprooted. But if an entire forest is weathering the storm they all bend together and come back up together.

2. When you feel like praying the least, is when you should pray the most.

D.A. Carson said sometimes when we don’t feel like praying we have to “pray ourselves into prayer.” I’m terrible at this one. Whenever I feel dry I have not one molecule in me that wants to pray. That should be the first indication that is when I need it most. Set a time and keep it. Be silent. Be still. Ask God to speak to you through His word. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it feels like He isn’t there. But sometimes He shows up when you least expect it.

3. Be honest, transparent, and real with God and others.

I remember when I first became a Christian I thought I couldn’t be honest with God. I thought I couldn’t be mad at Him. I thought I couldn’t scream at Him. One day though after a set of events where it felt like God had “failed” me, I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost it. I threw my bible across the room and said, “this doesn’t even work anymore!” And it was in that moment I heard a quiet whisper saying, “now that you’ve dropped the charade, we can get somewhere.” It wasn’t until I was completely transparent with God that I started to see just how beautiful He truly is. We don’t need to always have a smile. We can cry. We can yell. We can be frustrated. And the best part of that is God actually wants us to cast all that stuff on Him (1st Peter 5:7). Has it ever shocked you how explicit and raw the Psalms are? Somewhere around 80 percent of them are laments. They aren’t all “worship” songs. Until we are fully transparent with our loving Father, we’ll never feel the weight of burden and anxiety off our shoulders.

 

What about you? What do you do during the dry seasons? What has God taught you in those times?

 

For further study below are a few books written to those in the valley:

 

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  • Chris Ramos

    i know exactly how you feel, and what you are talking about. i am feeling the same, it is confusing, and uneasy to live outside god’s guidance, that fire, joy, sight, the word within yourself. i feel like i can’t do anything right anymore, i feel dangerous to myself and others at times because of my agitation of not feeling, seeing clearly enough in god. i feel dead at times. i try to live without god, but none of it feels good. its difficult to describe god, and living in spirit, but i know im not in it, like i previously was, and it hurts. i feel like i am running myself ragged in hopes to be with god again. i feel like idk where i am, i feel like i keep screwing up spiritually. one thing i know is god transcends all. i think the biggest problem is not being able to see our own self worth to god, within god. we know that god is beyond us, but we are stuck in ourselves and our pains for god that it blinds us from god. i just want to say i love you, and i can tell you love god so much you would hurt for god’s love. its not even a religious matter, its spiritual. we are all in this together no matter religion, race, any of it. i wish i could give better advice, but all i can give is my love to you, and my understanding of your pain.

  • Chris Ramos

    you are not alone, many of us have gone through this, or are going through this right now. continue to live and grow

  • aNto

    that was a dope vid

  • aNto

    i used to dislike this dude, but dude got some dope poems. this really spoke

  • Sheri King Boone

    I feel the same way. I’m just not giving up. No matter what it looks like.

  • Cr5564

    When I feel like God’s presence is not with me I feel like I have maybe done something to offend him. But I don’t give up, I listen to worship music and continually praise him throughout the day by telling him how good he is to us and how great full I am for his salvation and all the suffering he endured for us. It helps to keep seeking him be by watching the Christian channels on tv, hearing the Christian stationstation while in the car, praying, and sometimes falling asleep whIle listening to praise music. Doing all these things help build loyalty, discipline and a stronger relationship with God.

  • Hector Ossandon

    Jesus let me know this, there’s a door out of this desert, and we need to walk through with prayers and dedication to God Word, I am very happy because i was going through a dry season but just a few minutes ago i start to feel is presence in my heart while praying, i start to speak with him, its funny how i feel his love in my hearth, i have tears of joy. Have patience you will grow out of this and become stronger.
    Lord Jesus i thank you because you remove me from the path of perdition, drugs, video games, porn etc, now my live belong to you, i will love you forever, Please put a light at the end of the tunnel for all the person that felt like me Amen.

    • Natalie

      Thank you Hector! You are so right! God wants to see our commitment to Him too.

  • Amanda

    I most recently lost my passion for God. It seemed that no matter what I did and how faithful I was nothing was coming my way. It’s like all my friends and family are being blessed around me and then there’s me, nothing was happening, in fact things were just getting worse. I feel horrible because I know this storm I’m going through doesn’t last long but I can’t help but to be negative. I’m praying that God reignites that fire inside of me that I once had.

  • laurah

    I feel the same way too. I feel like i have sinned too much and God probably hates me right now thus i cant seem to be going anywhere with my life. I no longer have joy in christ, when i think of praying i cant help but tell myself “he isnt going to listen to a sinner like you” i go to sleep and wake up everyday with the same thoughts in my head “you’re a sinner and God hates you right now” but now that i have read this page i learned that i was actually sinning even more by having negative thoughts upon God. Its the negative thoughts i had for him that blocked my blessings and yet i thought it was the sins i had. I shouldnt have condemned God, instead at the point were i felt like the biggest sinner in the world i should have gone down on my knees and realized my sins and ask for my forgiveness and he would have forgiven me, as he forgave so many people in the bible and told taught us to forgive others like the way his father in heaven forgive his sinners… I dont know how to pray and i always thought that because my praying was poor God would probably not listen to me.. im knw going to pray and ask God to forgive me despite my weakness in praying imma still pray the way i know so because he listens to every one and forgives anyone.

  • Jim

    I wish I could say any of this helped, but it didn’t. Christians NEED God, and not just to get to Heaven by the skin of our teeth, but for our everyday sustenence! Despite this, at least for me, I have had NOTHING from God, at least that I can feel, for most of my Chrisitian life. I’ve kept going with it all i don’t konw how, but now I am so far down in a hole, that I simply MUST have at least a sliver of Him talking, inspiring, etc. me. So far, nada, and then when I go to church or prayer groups, all I hear is how much everyoe feels, hears, sees, etc. God, when I get NONE of this. Sooner or later, I will, of desperation, just bail on Him, as I am NOT going to be involved in a one-way relationship. I sure hope He comes, but I’m not counting on it.

    • Raistlin13

      I feel the same way. I feel like I must be doing something wrong. Then I start questioning whether I’ve just conned myself into thinking there is a God. Or why He doesn’t seem to care. I’ve read if there’s a distance then it’s my fault. But I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t understand the Bible, it’s all foreign to me. So maybe I never had God to begin with, or maybe he just doesn’t love me.

      • EbenB

        Hey there, I wanted to respond to this as I felt this way for years. First off, reading the bible doesn’t take a theology degree to understand. I would suggest going back to the gospels and reacquainting yourself with Jesus. It’s okay not to understand everything the bible says so don’t get frustrated, instead pray for God to show you what it means and then do your part and go out searching for answers. There are many great resources online to help you, but try and be discerning as well. If the information you’re reading or listening to denies anything involving the trinity or the death, deity of Jesus or the resurrection then run.
        Another thing is that God doesn’t just say to love him with our hearts and souls, he also says to use our minds. I’ve found that knowing some good basic apologetics can be very helpful during times of dryness. I would recommend reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity to get started. From there check out a site like Reasonable Faith. Having this sort of knowledge can remind us that despite how we feel, God is still out there and we have good reason to believe that. We can’t trust our emotions to tell us what’s real or not. Think of your mind as the compass to God not your feelings or you may end up in a constant up and down roller coaster of a relationship with God. Lastly I’ll say that it isn’t always something we’ve done that causes these feelings of seperation from God. Sometimes he may have a purpose in mind or lessons we are meant to learn, such as how to trust during difficult times. That being said we absolutely can be causing the feeling of distance as well so ask God to search your heart and reveal to you anything that has come between you and if you discover something then ask him to help and empower you to change it. These are just some thoughts to ponder, I hope it helps. God bless and know that he loves you so much that he came in the flesh, in the person of Jesus to die a terrible death for your sins that you might have eternal life. He loves you more than you could ever comprehend.

    • John Urrey

      I was in a spiritual desert for years of my own making. I allowed a sin to remain in my life for years, though I would frequently repent. I would not get serious about real change. I was stunting my own spiritual growth. I’m fighting it now, for real (with God’s help) and things are slowly beginning to change.

    • Courtney

      God doesn’t choose to love some people and not others. Jesus died for everyone’s sins and the Bible says it is not his will that any man should perish. God isn’t going to conform to the way you want him to be, but he loves you and has blessed you in tremendous ways. Otherwise you wouldn’t still be alive. Tell God how you feel, he loves you and he is listening. The Bible says to persevere and not grow weary. Paul preached the name of Jesus and ended up in prison, and still loved the Lord and kept his faith. God does not and will NOT abandon anyone EVER! seek him with all your heart. Nock and the door will be opened, seek and you will find. This is what the Bible says and no one can prove these things wrong. I’ll pray for you. God bless.

  • Jim

    Holly, I know exactly how I feel. I want to be praiseful towards God, and feel His presence, but, honestly, in over 20 years of relationship (If you can call it that) with Him, nada. I have come to the conclusion that I simply must either abandon Him, or accept the fact that He chooses, for reasons I know not, to stay away from me. I admire Sheri Boone who says she’s not giving up, but, frankly, I do not have the emotional, spiritual or physical (yes, it’s draining physically!) power to keep going without a SCINTILLA of a touch from Him.

  • Groud Frank

    How are things 8 months later? I’m curious my sister.

  • Joy Knowles Kane

    Dear Holly,
    I can relate to you and know how sad and discouraged you must feel as I too have gone and am still going down this path. I pray for you that God would restore you to a wonderful relationship to himself until it is felt/perceived and that you find your trust and love for him and in him again. God bless…..joy (try to recall things he has done for you in the past and dwell on them for a while….just read a psalm each day if that’s all you can handle at present) He does hear you even though you don’t feel it.

  • Robert

    I know exactly how you are feeling right now. I have been and still am going through the valley. It’s souch a lonely feeling. Hard to deal with when you feel so alone. Being with other Christians hasn’t been a choice for me, it’s like God wants it to be just me and him, so I have finally come to the decision that that is what he wants right now, that he wants to be the one to transform me into what he wants me to be like. I hunger to be with other Christians but i feel he wants to work and mold me first. So I listen to sermons, Christian music, and read and pray when I can. It’s even hard to do these things that I should be doing but I press on. He keeps working on my heart and mind, my spirit. He has been delivering me from sin and growing me but still letting me walk through the valley. I’ll just keep moving on for him, trusting that he knows what he is doing. You should be in church around other believers that’s what I should be doing but I’m having the hardiest time just making it through each day. I’m just going to trust him. Praise God in Jesus name. Amen

  • River Mudd

    We also have the theodice problem, stated by David Hume: If the evil in the world is intended by God he is not good. If it violates his intentions he is not almighty. God can’t be both almighty and good. There are many objections to this, but none that holds since God is ultimately responsible for the existence of evil. Besides, if only God can create he must have created evil. If somebody else (the devil) created evil, how can one know that God, and not Satan created the universe?

    Beyond the Cosmos: What Recent Discoveries in Astrophysics Reveal about the Glory and Love of GodIt is true that God cannot be both almighty and good if you restrict Him to our level – three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. However, this God is not the God of reality or Christianity, since both the Bible and science would indicate that God must exist in more than three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. The Bible says the universe cannot contain God (1), indicating He must exist and operate in dimensions of space and time other than those to which we are confined. The Bible also says God created time and was acting before time began (2), confirming that God exists in at least two dimensions of time. A single dimension of time (a line) has a beginning point and can only travel in one direction. Two dimensions of time (a plane) has no beginning or ending so that a being existing in such a plane would be free to move to any point along any line of time within that plane.

    Both of these descriptions of God are confirmed by what we know from science. According to particle physics and relativity, at least nine dimensions of space existed at the creation of the universe. God must be able to operate in all of those nine dimensions in order to have created the universe. A verse from the book of Hebrews indicates God created the universe out of some of the dimensions of space and time which are not visible to us (3). Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose extended the equations for general relativity to include space and time (4). Not only space, but also time has a beginning – at the moment of creation. Therefore, if God created the universe, He was acting before the creation of time, indicating He exists in at least two dimensions of time. If God existed in only one dimension of time, then He would have had to have been created at one point. The Bible says God was not created, but has existed from eternity past to eternity future.

    The main problem with this argument is a lack of understanding of the reason for the creation of the universe. The universe was not created to be good. God created the universe as a temporary testing site for creatures to choose to love Him or reject Him. God is good, but He has allowed His creatures free-will to do whatever they want within their limited dimensionality. God has designed the universe to operate under a set of physical principles, which He, only occasionally, suspends. If God were to suspend the laws of physics on a regular basis the universe would be a universe of chaos and unpredictability. Such as universe would not be a good testing ground for confused mortal beings. The purpose of the universe is to allow God’s creatures the choice to love Him. Love is not possible without free-will. Therefore God chooses to allow His creatures the ability to do evil for the purpose of permitting them also to love. If God controlled everything we did, we could not demonstrate love, since we would be pre-programmed to respond. A computer cannot love, but free-will beings can.

    The temporary nature of the universe and created beings requires that the universe operate under the law of entropy. If there were no entropy, we could not be tested since we would, by definition, be eternal and not have to face the mortality of our existence. Such an existence would not require our dependence upon God, since we would never have to face Him. The law of entropy guarantees our mortality and that we will suffer pain and death at some point. Neither pain nor death is evil from a Christian perspective. For example, pain is a necessary function in our lives. If we could not feel pain, we would end up causing serious damage to ourselves. Whenever I get burned, I move my hand rapidly away from the source of the pain. If I had no pain receptors, I would probably continue to burn my hand until I noticed the smoke. This would obviously not be a good thing to do. Likewise, death is required in a universe governed by entropy. Without animal death, very soon all the carbon on the earth would be bound in living organisms, with none available for photosynthesis.

    Most atheists define evil according to their own interpretation. By defining evil as things they don’t like, they have created a circular argument guaranteed to “prove the non-existence” of God. The Christian definition of evil is anything done by one of God’s spirit beings (humans or angels) against Him (or His created beings). As such, God is never responsible for evil – only His created spirit beings.

    Atheists say that since only God can create, therefore He must have created evil. However, at this point the atheist has redefined the meaning of create. Evil was not created. Evil is manifested (committed) by free-will beings. Nice play on words, but it doesn’t stand up to examination.

    • John Mumford

      Evil is manifested and committed by free-will beings huh? What part of free will creates stomach cancer in an eight year old? You haven’t solved the problem of evil, you’ve just cast god as some kind of mad scientist cackling, “Will you still love me now?” as he unleashes deadly tsunamis and earthquakes.

  • Moses

    I will like to place a balance here. Everyone goes through this phase cuz its a must-pass for every true believer. But we must understand that God has the Holy Spirit here to comfort us. Jesus said He would not leave us comfortless. So it’s either He lied or our theology is wrong. The phase of dryness is when everything about life becomes tiring, frustrating and excruciating. In a situation where you don’t feel connected again, you must first of all not condemn yourself. Believe God remains faithful. Seek Him more than ever cuz he wants you to do better than you’ve been doing. Make time out for Him to show you mean business. Speak more in tongues. Understand that He never left you. Or else you’ll gas out in your wait. Make sure you have brethren that are filled with the WORD around you. And make commitments to stop doing what you think you indulge in that God is not pleased with. Always be God-minded. I’ve been in this phase of my Christianity. All I’ve said have been practiced so I’m able to speak experientially. And lastly cry for His grace cuz the arm of the flesh cannot please God. Ask Him to release grace to thrive and not survive

  • Chris

    I don’t fit in with any of the churches in my area. In fact I feel as if I wouldn’t want to be anything like them. Hypocrites the whole lot of them and I’m certainly not anyone “they” would want to learn from. In their minds I’m lower than dirt. I ask why I would want to be around people like that and what do I do when they wont help and I’m already breaking. The bending is long since past.