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Offline Coppelia

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Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« on: September 29, 2010, 09:06:21 AM »
Hello everybody, I wasn't sure where to post this, so please forgive me if this is the incorrect place. It's quite a long post, so bear with me!

I have come here looking for some help in regards to my faith. I am not a practising Christian (yet), but I Googled 'Christian message boards' and you guys came up, and I don't know where else to ask about my problem. Once again I hope that this is all alright. I am by no means looking to offend anyone.

Any and all help is appreciated, but may I please make a polite request that nobody respond speaking at me in 'Biblespeak', as I find that actively off-putting. That doesn't mean not quoting passages from the Bible (I expect that could be very helpful), I just mean please don't tell me I'll burn in Hell for all Eternity if I don't honoreth This and That as quoth by Him and Him in Chapter-this Verse-that. Plain English will do just fine, thankyou!


Now, here's my story:

I have never been religious. I went to Sunday school for a few years as a young child, but God never meant much to me back then, and eventually I stopped believing in God in much the same way as I stopped believing in Santa Claus. No traumatic event inspired this, it just happened gradually as I got older and found out that there are many religions, and also whole schools of thought that follow none of them.

Despite not being a Christian however, I believe that I lead quite a moral life. In my every day life I am always respectful of all religions, and of each individual's right to follow whatever faith they want to. I'm not sacriligeous about any religious figure, not knowingly anyway! Whenever I go to Church I'm mindful that I am in God's house, and that the people around me feel that way even if I'm not sure. I don't drink or take drugs or sleep around, I don't steal or commit other crimes, I try not to lie or cheat at anything, and I try to treat people the way I'd like to be treated. I try not to be judgemental and I help people as much as I can.

Over the years I have ranged from lapsed Christian to staunch Atheist, and I am still not one to leap headfirst into a radical branch of Christianity and start spouting Bible verse at random passers-by, that is not my style. However, at this present point in my life, having considered myself Agnostic for many years, I am fully open to trying to 'find' God, trying to hear his voice, feel his spirit, etc. I hear Christians talk about him (sorry, Him) all the time, talking about the power of prayer and how they feel God's spirit and/or Jesus' love in their hearts. They talk as though they experience genuine physical feelings, and some of them even physical voices, visions etc.

Now I'm not expecting (or looking for) visions or speaking in tongues, but my problem is that I don't feel a thing when I attempt prayer. Or when I read the Bible, or even on the very rare occasions I go to Church (carol services with my grandparents or similar). I can admire the ancient history of Christianity, enjoy the stories of the Bible, agree with many of Jesus's teachings, be awed by the architecture of cathedrals. But when I pray, I feel as though I am just talking to myself.

This is not through lack of trying. I pray a lot considering I don't follow a religion. Most nights I talk or think outwardly, addressing Whoever may be out there. I don't feel any response from that either, but I still do it. I know a fair bit about Christianity and the Bible, through my own (non-religious but actively curious) study over the years. I have tried lots of different ways of praying, but generally I try to pray according to the teachings that I know. I never ask God to prove himself to me, I never question his great plan, I don't ask for special treatment for myself, I always include other people in my prayers, most of the time I ask for world peace and for all those who are suffering to be relieved, that sort of thing. I try to be humble and deferential and admit that I'm not worthy of his grace but that I'd like it anyway. I try to be completely honest, and I ask forgiveness for the things I've done wrong.

The trouble is, that despite all this, I just don't feel anything. It's not even about not feeling anything back, not getting a response, so to speak. I mean it is a little about that, but then I don't expect that God sends a personalised memo in response to every prayer, he's got a lot to do! It's mostly about the fact that when I'm praying, I don't feel like I'm doing something sacred. I just feel like I'm sat in a room, talking to myself. That nobody's listening.

Am I doing something wrong? Clearly I have my doubts about God's existence, but I've read about many Christians who sometimes feel those doubts but are still adamant that God is in their lives. I'm never going to completely rid myself of those doubts, simply because I'm a see-it-to-believe it kind of person, and religion by default is not based on tangible evidence. But doesn't the fact that I WANT to believe counteract that problem? I want to know God, my heart is open to him even if my mind isn't 100%, I'm actively trying to let/bring/ask Him and Jesus into my heart and into my life, but nothing happens. I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for some epiphany that never comes.

I suppose I am mostly looking for an insider's perspective, as it were. What do you feel when you pray? Do you absolutely unquestionably feel God's presence in your heart, and if so, does every other Christian you know feel that way?

A heartfelt thankyou to anybody who is still reading after all that, and I eagerly look forward to everybody's input.

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Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« on: September 29, 2010, 09:06:21 AM »

Offline Catholica

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 09:38:53 AM »
Hi Coppelia,

I came from a sort of similar background to your own.  I grew up in a family that was simply irreligious.  No religion at all.  We had a Bible, but to us kids it was just a vestige of when my parents had once been religious, before I was born.  I grew up completely ignorant of any religion whatsoever.  Yet I still believed that there was a God because I always went back to the beginning of the universe and simply made the lead that, for there to be something instead of nothing, there had to be a God.

I came to be religious when I met my girlfriend (now my wife) in high school, though she wasn't exactly devout then.  The one thing she wanted was to get married in a Church, and I was fine with that, I went through classes and the whole nine yards.  I thought the religious service was interesting, I got a lot out of attending church each week though I didn't know what was going on, all I knew is that I wasn't allowed to receive the bread and that at the very end we said "The Mass is ended, thanks be to God" and always chuckled because I was a silly kid then and saw how someone could misconstrue those words (though I wasn't the impatient one). :)

As for praying, it took my awhile to get used to it.  I don't think that we should ever count on a feeling inside when we pray.  I know the kind of prayer that you are praying, and I still pray it sometimes.  I just want to know God.  I believe in him now, but I still strive to know him more.  There have been plenty of times when I have felt close to him after a time of intense praying.  It will come.

I'd say, be yourself, ask him the questions that are the most dear to your heart.  Speak to him in the best way that you know how.  Trust that he is there for now.  Also seek to gain knowledge of him.  If you want a starting point, private message me and I will help you find some resources.  It is easier to pray, the more we know about God, the more that we know we can reasonably ask of him and exactly what he wants to give to us.

I will pray for you too.  I hope you come to the place of believing as I have.  You start to finally understand life and your place in it.  Just as for all of us, know that God has a purpose for your life and he wants to reveal it to you at the proper time.  It seems that by knowing Jesus, we can suddenly have our eyes open to the world and life, and through carrying our cross and following Jesus we can finally be free of the slavery that we all find ourselves in.

God Bless you.

Andre

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 09:38:53 AM »

larry2

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 12:34:12 PM »

When I pray, I feel as though I am just talking to myself. This is not through lack of trying. I pray a lot considering I don't follow a religion. Most nights I talk or think outwardly, addressing Whoever may be out there. I don't feel any response from that either, but I still do it.


Acts 2:21  Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
 
Romans 10:14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

You talk of God and so I assume you are calling upon God by praying. I'm not sure what you expect to feel to know you have been heard by God. Christianity is having faith that what God has promised in His word He will deliver and the manner in which we get that faith to grow is through taking in the word of God.

Offline Coppelia

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 12:39:05 PM »
I don't expect anything specific Larry, just something. As I said in my original post, I hear a lot of Christians (of all denominations) speak about how they feel God's presence and his love. Many say they've felt it their whole lives, others say they had epiphanies. Obviously faith is a part of that, but it's not all of it. I could believe that I feel God's love in my heart, but I still wouldn't feel it.

Thankyou for your post Andre, it made me feel a little better. Maybe I am in too much of a hurry with this, that could be the problem. Maybe God wants me to strengthen my faith on my own before I can feel him around me?

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 12:39:05 PM »

Offline Catholica

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2010, 01:35:16 PM »
Thankyou for your post Andre, it made me feel a little better. Maybe I am in too much of a hurry with this, that could be the problem. Maybe God wants me to strengthen my faith on my own before I can feel him around me?

Absolutely.  Every Christian struggles with this, if they are honest.  The Lord often requires us to wait, until we are ready.  Just the fact that you, a self-professed former "staunch atheist", are even asking these questions is a sign that God is calling you back to him.  And there is truly a lot of growing for each of us to do. 

This might seem cryptic, I hope not so much so, but .... God is Love, but he is not an emotion.  We can learn what Love is by reading the gospels, focusing on the fact that everything that Jesus did was Love.  Love works: love lays down its life, love makes sacrifice, love forgives, love suffers.  Sometime, you will receive consolations (comfort in your suffering from God), and I think you will find that the harder you try to know him, the more he will reveal himself to you, the more he will teach you to love him, and real love will come forth from inside you, and then you will feel something, a real love.

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2010, 01:35:16 PM »



Offline chestertonrules

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2010, 05:10:20 PM »
Hello everybody, I wasn't sure where to post this, so please forgive me if this is the incorrect place. It's quite a long post, so bear with me!

I have come here looking for some help in regards to my faith. I am not a practising Christian (yet), but I Googled 'Christian message boards' and you guys came up, and I don't know where else to ask about my problem. Once again I hope that this is all alright. I am by no means looking to offend anyone.

Any and all help is appreciated, but may I please make a polite request that nobody respond speaking at me in 'Biblespeak', as I find that actively off-putting. That doesn't mean not quoting passages from the Bible (I expect that could be very helpful), I just mean please don't tell me I'll burn in Hell for all Eternity if I don't honoreth This and That as quoth by Him and Him in Chapter-this Verse-that. Plain English will do just fine, thankyou!


Now, here's my story:

I have never been religious. I went to Sunday school for a few years as a young child, but God never meant much to me back then, and eventually I stopped believing in God in much the same way as I stopped believing in Santa Claus. No traumatic event inspired this, it just happened gradually as I got older and found out that there are many religions, and also whole schools of thought that follow none of them.

Despite not being a Christian however, I believe that I lead quite a moral life. In my every day life I am always respectful of all religions, and of each individual's right to follow whatever faith they want to. I'm not sacriligeous about any religious figure, not knowingly anyway! Whenever I go to Church I'm mindful that I am in God's house, and that the people around me feel that way even if I'm not sure. I don't drink or take drugs or sleep around, I don't steal or commit other crimes, I try not to lie or cheat at anything, and I try to treat people the way I'd like to be treated. I try not to be judgemental and I help people as much as I can.

Over the years I have ranged from lapsed Christian to staunch Atheist, and I am still not one to leap headfirst into a radical branch of Christianity and start spouting Bible verse at random passers-by, that is not my style. However, at this present point in my life, having considered myself Agnostic for many years, I am fully open to trying to 'find' God, trying to hear his voice, feel his spirit, etc. I hear Christians talk about him (sorry, Him) all the time, talking about the power of prayer and how they feel God's spirit and/or Jesus' love in their hearts. They talk as though they experience genuine physical feelings, and some of them even physical voices, visions etc.

Now I'm not expecting (or looking for) visions or speaking in tongues, but my problem is that I don't feel a thing when I attempt prayer. Or when I read the Bible, or even on the very rare occasions I go to Church (carol services with my grandparents or similar). I can admire the ancient history of Christianity, enjoy the stories of the Bible, agree with many of Jesus's teachings, be awed by the architecture of cathedrals. But when I pray, I feel as though I am just talking to myself.

This is not through lack of trying. I pray a lot considering I don't follow a religion. Most nights I talk or think outwardly, addressing Whoever may be out there. I don't feel any response from that either, but I still do it. I know a fair bit about Christianity and the Bible, through my own (non-religious but actively curious) study over the years. I have tried lots of different ways of praying, but generally I try to pray according to the teachings that I know. I never ask God to prove himself to me, I never question his great plan, I don't ask for special treatment for myself, I always include other people in my prayers, most of the time I ask for world peace and for all those who are suffering to be relieved, that sort of thing. I try to be humble and deferential and admit that I'm not worthy of his grace but that I'd like it anyway. I try to be completely honest, and I ask forgiveness for the things I've done wrong.

The trouble is, that despite all this, I just don't feel anything. It's not even about not feeling anything back, not getting a response, so to speak. I mean it is a little about that, but then I don't expect that God sends a personalised memo in response to every prayer, he's got a lot to do! It's mostly about the fact that when I'm praying, I don't feel like I'm doing something sacred. I just feel like I'm sat in a room, talking to myself. That nobody's listening.

Am I doing something wrong? Clearly I have my doubts about God's existence, but I've read about many Christians who sometimes feel those doubts but are still adamant that God is in their lives. I'm never going to completely rid myself of those doubts, simply because I'm a see-it-to-believe it kind of person, and religion by default is not based on tangible evidence. But doesn't the fact that I WANT to believe counteract that problem? I want to know God, my heart is open to him even if my mind isn't 100%, I'm actively trying to let/bring/ask Him and Jesus into my heart and into my life, but nothing happens. I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for some epiphany that never comes.

I suppose I am mostly looking for an insider's perspective, as it were. What do you feel when you pray? Do you absolutely unquestionably feel God's presence in your heart, and if so, does every other Christian you know feel that way?

A heartfelt thankyou to anybody who is still reading after all that, and I eagerly look forward to everybody's input.



I'm a convert to Catholicism.  I was raised Christian but it didn't all make sense until I joined the Catholic Church.

A key to Christianity that is often overlooked by protestants is the power of the Eucharist, that is the consecrated bread and wine that have become the body and blood of Jesus.

I know this will sound crazy, but look up your local Catholic Church and find out when they have Eucharistic adoration.  You should be able to find the schedule on your local Catholic Church's web site.

This is a time with the Eucharist is displayed for prayer and meditation.   In my experience, and the experience of millions of others, you will never feel closer to Jesus on earth than when you are in his bodily presence in the Eucharist.


Don't knock it until you've tried it!




Offline Gabrielle A

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 01:32:20 AM »
Hi Coppelia!
Quote
suppose I am mostly looking for an insider's perspective, as it were. What do you feel when you pray? Do you absolutely unquestionably feel God's presence in your heart, and if so, does every other Christian you know feel that way?

I may be a little late coming in on this thread but I thought that i'd like to share a little of my own personal experiences, although you may have already found some answers by now. I can only speak for myself and hopefully, I have expressed it in such a way that you may understand.  (without the jargon...Lol!)

When I pray, I feel at peace knowing who I'm praying to and also knowing that he (Jesus our Lord and saviour )  hears my prayers. This sense of knowing has come from a relationship which has been forged through trials and hardship, and also reading my bible.  ::reading::

 There is truly something special about knowing that there is no one else that one can turn to or truly rely on when the chips are down. It causes you to believe with everything youvé got...that he hears our prayers and answers them in his own divine way. This sense of knowing has also been founded by reading the bible. My bible has given me an understanding of God's character. Knowing his character builds that much needed relationship and intimacy in prayer and in all areas of my life.
An example of this can be found in our every day life...with our friendships. We get to know our friends really well after spending some time with them We get to understand what they like and dislike and how far we can go with them and where their boundary lines are...It is very much like our relationship with God and prayer. His word is unchanging just as he is...

Some times I feel the Lords presence when I pray and sometimes I do not. In the times that I do not, I know that he has heard me anyway because we are in fellowship with one another. Not just in prayer but in my daily life...

I hope that this helps...

Bless you!
« Last Edit: December 15, 2010, 01:38:57 AM by Gabrielle A »

Offline hwyangel

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2012, 07:01:45 PM »
I wasn't raised with a religious education either.  As a state ward the various homes I lived in were secular so I always believed that religion was just something other people did and had nothing to do with me. To make a long story short I will save my testimony for another time.  When I first became a Christan it was hard to pray. I don't think that I could go 15 minutes. without becoming distracted.  Can you imagine keeping a relationship with only 15 minutes a day? I realize some may disagree with me but I believe that it's not us waiting for God to speak,  it is God waiting on us to seek him. And it is his word that allows us to recognize his voice.  Knowing God is peace and joy. Have you ever witnessed a miracle?  Like seeing your newborns face for the first time, saying "I do", or watching a beautiful sun set that takes your breath away.  This is what it feels like to know God. This is what it means to be a witness of his glory. 

Now as for being "good", LOL.     Christains are no better or worse than anyone else, just ask an atheist,  they will tell you, LOL.

Being a Christan is not about being good, it's recognizing that we're not good and in need of divine intervention.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 07:56:21 PM by hwyangel »

Offline hwyangel

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2012, 11:42:13 AM »
‘Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

Offline lynx

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 11:53:27 AM »
Have you baptized yet? That's when I received the Holy spirit and actually feel his present.

Offline Lively Stone

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2012, 10:15:40 AM »
I know its an old post but for anyone reading here's my opinion:
I say give atheism another go. Like me you have confidence in yourself, you know you are a good person, you are respectful and an all around genuine person. This life, Earth and the Universe are too beautiful. I say open your mind and seek knowledge of reality. It seams such a shame to me when people give up the search and settle for the easy answer "god did it"

No one is a good person.

Have you ever lied? If so, you are a liar.

Revelation 21:8 says that all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

Have you ever taken something that isn't yours?  If so, you are a thief.

1 Corinthians 6:10 says that among others, those who are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Have you ever lusted after someone? If so, you are an adulterer.

Matthew 5:27-28
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

1 Corinthians 6:9
 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality

James 2:10 says that the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.


You say the earth is beautiful and good. It is only because God is beautiful and only God is good. That is reality.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 10:43:36 AM by Lively Stone »

Offline Lively Stone

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2012, 11:10:20 PM »
That is a very cynical view of humanity and a pessimistic world view. Sure i have done most of the things you mentioned. And i still know i am a good person. I have learned from my mistakes and have grown as a person from my life experiences. I dont need fear of eternal damnation to remind me to be a good person. I dont require writen laws to know not to kill, rape etc it wories me that you feel you do.

It is my opinion the earth and humanity are beautiful because they are real. God is not. Feel free to PROVE me wrong

Nothing cynical about the truth. No one can measure what goodness is unless one measures against the perfect goodness of God. He is the standard.

God is a consuming fire. Fire burns and destroys whatever is subjected to it. There is only one way to avoid it and it isn't being what you think is good.

The universe is beautiful because God made it. His Creation reflects Him.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 11:23:07 PM by Lively Stone »

Offline PeterEnergy

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2012, 06:19:11 PM »
I suggest you start by meditating. Train your mind to STOP THINKING. Doing this is not as easy as it seems. Our minds are like a storm in the ocean with waves crashing all about, demanding to have something to process. Only after you learn to quiet your mind can you open yourself to the infinite.

After you practice this for several months, let us know how it is going and we can go from there.

Offline Lively Stone

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2012, 06:41:11 PM »
Meditate on God's word!

Joshua 1:8
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 119:27
Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
    and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 145:5
I will meditate[a] on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.

PracticingHisPresence

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Re: Help please: I don't feel God's presence?
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2012, 08:44:37 PM »
Coppelia,  I just came to this site from a search as well. Your dilemma is most common. Your sincerity and honesty in what you wrote will pay great dividends in what you seek. To know the presence of God by prayer.  Knowing His presence can’t be forced or manufactured.  It is a subtle presence that comes from within, not without. 

Think of it like this.  All men and women have an eternal spirit within them.  A spark from an eternal God that created us.  It makes no difference if a person believes that or not for it to be true.  Coppelia, it is the externals (outside world) of man that mostly move him: what they see, what they think they must have to be happy, content and satisfied. Yet you know as well as I that the exterior of man is in a constant flux.

Yet the interior part of man is in reality stable and sound, I am talking about his spirit, that little spark of God.  And it is prayer that connects our soul to the soul creator, God.

The Bible teaches a way in which Prayer is the lighting rod to the very presence of God.  Tell me before I explain it, is this what you are looking for?

David.