I Love You, Lord, But I Don’t Feel Your Presence

By Keith Miller | November 23, 2009

Keith, I’ve been praying on a regular basis with a sense that God is more “real” since I made a conscious decision to turn my entire life over to God. But very recently I’ve been distracted fairly often, and I fear that the sense of closeness and intimacy may have been only short term honeymoon type feeling. Has this been something you’ve experienced?

Grapeleaves

I was nervous waiting outside the hotel room for my appointment with Dr. Benton, who was conducting a series of seminars at our church. Finally, my turn came.

“I pray regularly,” I told him, “but so much of the time I don’t feel that God hears me. Not only that, but I don’t feel anything much, even when I tell Him I love Him. To pray at times like that seems insincere.”

As we talked, I confessed that frequently I didn’t feel anything during the communion service either.

The minister leaned back in his chair and thought a minute.

“Are you married?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you kiss your wife as you go out the door on the way to work?”

“Yes,” I smiled. “Every day.”

“Does it give you a great feeling of love every time you kiss her at the doorway?”

“Oh no,” I said, laughing. “If it did, I’d never make it to work!”

He smiled, and I went on. “I admit that sometimes I couldn’t even remember whether I had kissed her or not by the time I got to the office.” Dr. Benton identified with my experience, but said that occasionally when he kissed his wife, he was overwhelmed by how much she meant to him as a person. All of those kisses at the door were threads, weaving the fabric of their daily lives into the kind of relationship in which great feelings of love could be experienced naturally and fully when they came. As a Christian, Dr. Benton said that he felt the same way about habits of prayer and worship. Sometimes he did not sense much substance in his feelings for God during his private prayers or at the communion rail, but at other times he was almost overcome by feelings of hope and gratitude to God for His love, acceptance, and for giving him meaning and purpose for his life.

As I was going down the elevator, I could not help smiling when I thought if his analogy about marriage. I began to recall some of the “little things” about being married: the “accidental” touching of our hands in a church pew, and laughing about all the hamburgers and tuna fish salad we had to eat when we were first married, or even the agony of worrying together about a sick child. And I saw that Dr. Benton was right: a deep, loving relationship is woven out of a good many mundane responses which do not feel like love at all . . . at the time.

. . . this fervour is especially characteristic of beginners, and its drying up should be welcomed as a sign that we are getting beyond the first stages. To try to retain it, or to long for its return in the midst of dryness, is to refuse to grow up. It is to refuse the Cross. By our steady adherence to God when the affections are dried up, and nothing is left but the naked will clinging blindly to Him, the soul is purged of self-regard and trained in pure love.

H.A. Hodges, As quoted in Unseen Warfare

Lord, help me to need You and want You so consciously and continually that I will turn to You regardless of my religious feelings. Help me to be willing to walk into the problems of today representing You . . . even though I must go without the certainty of a bag of pat answers or perhaps even without any feeling of Your being with me. But so often I am afraid to take real risks without the sense of Your presence. I guess I am praying for faith, Lord, so that I can act on the reality of Your love. . . even when I cannot “see” it with my senses.

And what is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 NEB

2 comments | Add One

  1. Marcus Goodyear - 12/2/2009 at 4:05 pm

    So good to talk with you today! This idea of not feeling God’s presence really resonates with me too.

    I figure faith doesn’t always feel real–especially if we try to have faith in something disconnected from the world.

    God isn’t disconnected from the world, but we seem to talk about him as if he is.

  2. Andrea - 12/7/2009 at 12:50 am

    When I stay in a me-cenetered frame of mind, then it is God who is “far away,” and I don’t feel His presence. When I remember that God is the center of everything, then I can more easily recognize that I am the one who has gotten far away…wrapped up in my own world, in a coccoon that muffles the sound of God’s voice.

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