Prayer is a spiritual discipline that most Christians are familiar with but most of us are frustrated with at times. Why don’t Christians pray more? We don’t know how. If you didn’t grow up in church, or even if you did, praying can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you grew up in a formal church where the pastor […]
If you’ve ever felt like God is distant or hidden, or maybe your pursuit of God is one big game of hide-and-seek (and God is a really good hider), here are five common reasons why it’s hard for us to find God:
1. We live too fast. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Stillness is the very opposite of how our culture is designed to operate. We create more technology so that we can work faster, do more, not miss out on anything. When the God of the universe chose to speak to the prophet Elijah, he did so through a still small voice, a gentle whisper. For most of us, me included, I think God speaks to us constantly, we’re just moving too fast to hear Him.
2. We live too self-focused. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” For us, that means that we say we love God and that He’s our first priority, but in reality He’s not. The reason many of us seek God is not because we’re concerned with His Kingdom, but ours. Many folks seek God merely because we want him to give us stuff, help us do good on our test, protect us, keep us safe, bless us with money. That’s not seeking God’s kingdom first. That’s asking God to bless our kingdom. It doesn’t work like that.
3. We live too sinfully. Ancient Israel had this problem, and God spelled it out for them in black and white. They complained because it seemed like God had gone silent, he had abandoned them. Here was God’s answer: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2 Sin separates us from God. One of the biggest reasons we feel separated from God is because of unconfessed and unrepentant sin in our lives.
4. We live too lazily. Some of us are like my kids. Please make me feel better about my parenting and let me know that your kids have done this. If you’re a parent you know that for young kids, just getting everyone dressed and out the door to go anywhere is a big chore. It’s an accomplishment. The one thing that frustrates me to no end is when my wife and I tell our older two to get their shoes on so we can go. Without fail, one of them will be on the couch, and they’re watching tv or playing their iPod, and they’ll call out to mom, “Mom, I can’t find my shoes!” They haven’t gotten up, they haven’t moved, but they’ve already decided they can’t find their shoes. Am I the only person to live through this? Here’s the point: How many of us have showed up to church one time, you tried praying for three days, and then you declared, “I can’t find God!”
What does Jeremiah say? “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:13-14 God promises that we will find Him when we seek him, but many of us don’t want to put the effort in. We’re too lazy. Remember, the God we’re talking about is the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. He is not our servant, supposed to come at our beck and call. Let’s not forget the Master and who’s the servant in this relationship. Some of us get lazy and treat God like a servant and then we get mad when he doesn’t come the first time we call.
5. We neglect the Holy Spirit. Right before Jesus left this earth, he told his disciples as plain as day, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” John 14:16-17
God the Father is too marvelous, too holy, too majestic for us. He warns humans in the Old Testament that want to see him, that if they saw him, they would die. God the Son, Jesus Christ, lived on this earth for 33 years, died, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day. For the billions of us who didn’t live back in first century Palestine, we missed out on seeing God in the flesh. But we have God the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus himself said that the Holy Spirit is the primary way that God will communicate and relate to believers after Jesus ascended back into heaven. We live in the age of the Holy Spirit.
So does it surprise anyone that if you grew up like I did in a denomination and a religious tradition that neglected the person and work of the Holy Spirit, that you might have problems connecting with God? You put all those reasons together, and I’m guilty of all five, then it shouldn’t surprise us at all that we feel like God is hidden from us.