Q: How Can I Know God Well?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Lately, I have this feeling that’s been eating me up inside about God. I am a saved Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior by faith alone. But just recently I’ve been pondering this: why won’t God interact with me more? Like, if I were to sing a song of praise just in my bedroom or something, I could know He heard me, but I don’t get any special feeling nor does He give me a sign or anything letting me know that He loved my singing or something. Maybe I’m going too much by my feelings, but I just feel like He should be doing things with me. It makes me angry or jealous in church or on TV when people say stuff like “God told me to tell her to come on this show!” or “God took me to the book of Luke.” I know I’m saved, but I don’t ever feel like God does that with me. It’s sort of frustrating. God does answer my prayers consistently, but I just feel like He should speak to me or interact with me. Does God not want to reveal Himself too much or something? Perhaps it’s my sin or maybe it’s because I haven’t been to church in a month. …Please realize that this is so frustrating for me. I just want to know God really well. I want to be closer to Him. Maybe I need to read the Bible more, maybe I’m not spiritually mature enough, maybe I’m just being fooled by Satan. Whatever the problem is, I’m just tired of this. I want greater interaction with God.

A closer walk with God is what you seek. That is a good place to be. That is exactly where He wants you: to be desiring Him more and more. It is a process, learning to walk closer to God. I remember as a child wanting to grow up quicker so I could do adult things. The same is true as a Christian; we want to mature quickly but sometimes don’t realize it is the time and the trials which bring us closer to Him as we learn to fully trust Him with our lives. God does want to reveal Himself to you; don’t ever think differently. But it is a process, and don’t think that it’s going to happen overnight. Also, be careful what you ask for; usually God uses the worst times in your life to cause you to draw closer to Him! So, He may be getting you ready for some major difficulty in your life to teach you how to trust and walk with Him more. During the trial, it may seem He is distant, but oh, the sweet gold at the end of the refining fire is worth it.

It is normal to feel at times that God is distant. I encourage you to read through the Psalms. Many times, the Psalmists is clearly distraught, looking for God but not finding Him. Check out these verses from Psalm 77:7-10:

Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?
Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?
Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah.
Then I said, “It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

He sounds very frustrated, just like you. Read the rest of the Psalm to see what he did to remind himself of the truth and build his confidence in God back up. What I’m trying to say is that this is normal, even in the lives of the godly people who wrote the Bible! God Himself ordained these things would be written so that we could take comfort as we experience times like this, to know we are not alone.

I’m convinced God lets this happen so we seek him even more. Acts 17:26-27 says that God pre-planned where and when all the nations would exist so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say He also directs the course of our individual lives through ups and downs for the same very reason.

I know what it is like to desire a feeling or a sign that would help me know God is there and loves me. I’m not saying this never happens, but we don’t want to go chasing “feelings” either. I’m concerned for people who are always looking for a feeling because feelings can be artificially construed. Many times, worship leaders at churches are successful in creating a certain mood through music, drama, lights, etc. in order to spark feelings, but we need to be careful here because a good movie can do the same thing! I’m not against feelings and emotions; they are a wonderful part of the life God has given us, but they can be an unreliable guide. I think if we fill ourselves with God’s truth (His Word), emotions and feelings will flow out of that, and we can express them through songs, prayers, etc. But don’t chase the feeling in and of itself for its own sake.

To know God is there even when we don’t see Him (or feel Him) is what faith is all about. Read 1 Peter 1:6-9:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I am very leery of people on TV who say God verbally told them to do such and such. When you hear that, get up and turn that thing off! Get out your Bible and let God speak to you through His Word. I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides us and directs our thinking as we ask for wisdom, but to verbally hear from God is going a little too far. In my experience, most of the time when people say stuff like that, they are trying to impress people with their spirituality. So again, my advice is not to strive for receiving some special message from God. Fill your time with reading the Bible and pray for the Holy Spirit to help you think correctly and give you wisdom to walk with God and know Him more deeply. Part of faith is waiting on His timing too. He may want you to struggle with this for a while until you learn to trust Him and be patient for His instruction. I’ve found that if I have a big decision to make and just can’t make up my mind, then I need to put it on hold and wait until I get clearer direction from Him. Sometimes it never comes, but I take that from Him too, by faith.

All the things you mentioned are right: praying more, reading your Bible more, rooting more sin out of your life, etc. But it’s not a formula either. You can’t hold God to an equation and say, “If I do ABC, then you should do XYZ.” Be patient. Ask people to pray for you about this. I have prayed for you about this. God does want a deep relationship with you, but He may take you through difficult times so you learn to lean on Him even when you don’t “see” or “feel” Him. Read through the Psalms, and you will find many things that relate to what you are going through.

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