How to draw close to God when he feels far away

Most of us will have experienced periods where we have felt lower than normal, and a little further from the Lord. And, although it never feels like it at the time, most of us know that these low periods do come to an end. CS Lewis referred to this phenomenon as the "Law of Undulation". He said: "As long as [man] lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty." It's just part of being human.


Which all sounds just a bit bleak.

While I agree with the ever-wise Lewis on the natural cycle of peaks and troughs, this landscape needn't inspire despair, but rather hope. When we're in the midst of those dark patches, we can stand on the truth that the light will return, and that our faith will prevail.

It is easy to hold onto this truth in the season of "emotional and bodily richness" but when you're experiencing the depths of "numbness and poverty", conjouring up hope can be a little trickier.

But there are ways to ensure that even when your faith is dwaining and your emotions are low, you stay close to the Lord, whether or not you feel that you are.

1. Pray anyway

There is power in prayer. It is easy when we feel discouraged to avoid prayer, to turn away from God from a place of hurt and believe he has turned his back on us. It is easy to feel that our prayers are hitting a brick wall, and that God isn't interested. However the Bible instructs us to "pray without ceasing", whatever our circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

It might feel like you are in no place to pray spiritually, and that you aren't even sure that you believe in the God you're supposed to be praying to, but remember the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13. God is not asking you for more faith than you have. He doesn't want you to wait until you are in a good place with him to pray. He is looking for the real, authentic you; not a polished, shiny version.

Don't even worry about not having the words; in our weakness the Holy Spirit intercedes for us:

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God," (Romans 8:26-27).

2. Read the Word

When we are in a season of low faith, it can be easy to feel far from God. We cannot feel his presence, we don't feel the joy of worship and we don't feel intimate with him.

But our culture arguably places too much emphasis on emotions. We can't simply judge our relationship with God by emotions because they lie, they grow and they wain. Some days we feel God's presence, and some days we don't; but either way, the truth is that God is present.

In times of dryness, we must temper our emotions with the truth that is found in the Bible. It might not be what you feel like doing, but reading the Word will bring you closer to God, and further from despair.

It says in Isaiah 55:11 that, "My word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Take this as an encouragement that when you read God's Word, he promises that you will grow.

3. Don't be ashamed

We all hit walls in our relationship with God, and we al go through periods where we feel emotionally low. It can leave us wanting to retreat; to isolate ourselves as a means of preservation. Whether from a place of shame, not wanting to admit our current state, or fear of being a burden to our friends, these low seasons can lead to withdrawal.

However, as CS Lewis said, the way you are feeling is not a unique experience. Tell a friend, a pastor or a family member. In all likelihood they have been where you are; they will relate and give counsel. Having been there, they will be able to see with a perspective that is impossible when you feel in the depths of it. Get them to pray with you, and allow yourself to be encouraged. 

4. Stay hopeful

God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). God often uses us in our weakest moments, and when we are feeling at the end of our own ability, he is there. One practical way of claiming and standing on the hope that God offers, even when you can't quite believe it, is to declare his promises. Find Bible verses that encourage you and speak them out loud. There is a power in the spoken word.

God is also the great comforter. A time of suffering spiritually or emotionally may allow you to learn new things of his character, enabling him to be your comforter and to bring you out of a place of despair. He always brings light to our darkness.


Remember, when you are feeling far from God, you are in good company. King David – described by God as a man after his own heart – had times of feeling distant from the Lord. He once prayed to God, asking "God, are you avoiding me? Where are you when I need you?" (Psalm 10:1) But even when David felt distant from him, he remained persistent in his pursuit of God, and was never left in his despair.

Follow Florence Taylor on Twitter: @flo_taylor