3 Steps to Feeling Closer to God
Have you ever felt like God was a million miles away? Or that the intimacy with Him that you so longed for feels like a one-sided relationship?
Perhaps you go to church, serve on a few ministry teams, even read your Bible and pray daily, but still–you feel no closer to God.
Don’t worry. This is normal. It happened even to the greatest saints.
Step 1: Focus Outward
You may be wondering, How does focusing outward impact my closeness to God? James 4:1 shares: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
Often times our lack of intimacy with God can point to a root issue of selfishness. When we are stuck in selfishness, we cannot connect to the presence of God.
Instead, focus outwards. I don’t mean point the blame outwards! Go help others in their time of need. Look to have better relationships with others. Not like the relationships James is referring to where there’s constant quarreling because of selfish motives.
Also, in your focus outward, surround yourself with others who ignite the flame of faith.
A few words of caution for an outward focus: be careful that it doesn’t turn in to a love for the world. For James 4:4 says: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Be careful that you don’t start loving what the Lord hates.
Step 2: Focus Inward
This may seem the opposite of step 1, but 2 Corinthians 13:5 reminds us to examine ourselves. And examination requires an inward reflection. So what do we need to examine?
Two things: Our heart and our hands.
Jump with me to James 4:8: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
So… are your hands clean? James is referring to a blameless, clear, innocent, guiltless life. It means you have nothing that the enemy or anyone else can use against you. Is there sin in your life?
If you want to feel close to God, this must be eradicated. There’s no way around it. Sin separates you from God. (Isaiah 59:2)
My friend, cleans your hands of sin and iniquity and you’ll be another giant step closer to the presence of God.
Regarding your heart, you don’t have to commit the physical act of murder, simply having hatred on your heart is the equivalent.
Sin is a heart issue. It always starts in the heart and even if you do your best to not manifest it outwards, it’s still sin… in your heart.
Step 3: Focus Upward
If you truly want to feel close to God, your focus must be on God. James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
So how do we draw near to God? I believe it’s encapsulated in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Our job is not to battle the devil. Scripture is clear that we are to first submit to God, and then resist the devil. Our mandate is simple—submit to God. I understand this isn’t easy. But I assure you with time, it gets easier. Especially when you see the miracle-working power of God at work in your life and feel His precious presence.
James 4:9 then says: “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”
Wait, doesn’t scripture tell us that our weeping will turn to joy? Yes, but there are times where God wants us to be mournful for our actions and behaviors. This leads to repentance. And true repentance leads to true joy. You can’t fake this one my friend.
And lastly James 4:10 says,“ Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
God opposes the proud. Period. There is no justifying it. The world may say humility is weak, but if you are looking to be closer to God, you will have to chose…. will you follow the world’s value system or God’s?
There is no shortcut to intimacy with God. We don’t have to earn God’s love but just like intimacy takes work in an earthly relationship, it also takes work for a heavenly relationship.
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