One of the biggest challenges people face within the church is actually feeling like they can connect with God. My sermons can be excellent. The music can be great. Sunday school can be fun and engaging. Books can be read, bible studies attended, and service projects completed. And still people will feel distant from God.
More and more I’m growing convinced that we are our worst enemy when it comes to connecting with God. You and I, as people, seem to be quite gifted at creating barriers to connecting with God. Some of them may be intentional, but I suspect most are not.
Here are 5 things I think stop us from connecting with God:
Distractions: You ever try to have a nice conversation where you connect with a friend or spouse, only to be interrupted by a glowing light and beep from a phone? Maybe you’ve agreed to talk with your spouse intently, until that call from work comes in.
We do this to God all the time. We never really give our full attention. (And for the record, I’m terrible at this, so I’m not just blaming people. More of a self accusation.) We either say “I’ll pray in the shower/on the drive to work” or “I only have five minutes, so make it snappy.”
Connection and intimacy require intention and focus. Carve out time and space. Turn your phone off. Or leave it out of the room. I can hear parents reading this: “I’m always distracted because of my kid(s)”. Why not include them in the prayer time? It’ll take practice, and it won’t go well at first, but eventually, you can teach them the importance of giving God their full attention.
Pride: This is likely the biggest barrier between us and God. And we’re most likely unaware of it. Pride says that “I’m too busy (self importance)”, “I’m too bad/unworthy for God” (other end of the spectrum, where we’re too unimportant), “I don’t need it” (pretty obvious flaw there).
Our lives, particularly in America, can be so good that we don’t ever feel a need for God. Many times, we’re unwilling to let God in “because we’ve got this figured out”.
Fear of Conviction: What if you pray and God challenges you to change your behavior? What if you come in contact with the Almighty, and there is something in your life that He doesn’t like? It’s easier to avoid the awkward confrontation altogether.
Too formulaic/Structured: Can you only connect with God using hymns, creeds, and pews? Does God only appear to you when the lights dim and the band begins playing? Does something just not “feel right” at any other church? It’s okay to find God in the familiar, but every relationship needs some spontaneity. If it takes the right music, in the right place, with the right people, you might have the wrong God.
Not structured enough: The “I just didn’t feel like praying” syndrome. Creeds are too rigid, the Lord’s Prayer isn’t genuine, and following a reading plan doesn’t “give the Spirit room”. Your relationship with God should not be solely based on the way it makes you feel, because feelings change, while God does not.
Connecting with God takes time, energy, and most importantly, practice. Just like every relationship.
What helps you connect with God? Do you need more structure? Less pride?
Let me know below.
And remember, I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.