By Drew Zuverink
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."
There are moments in days where I feel like God is nowhere near me. His presence feels so far away, too far away to comfort me, too far away to hear me when I cry out to him, too busy to focus on me when I want some of his time. Those are very real feelings and I am not alone in experiencing them from time to time.
Sometimes when I get down on my knees in my office or at home in my room, I start to pray and the same feelings of distance are still there. Even when I take the time to get away from everything else, even when I find a quiet place to speak with God, he sometimes still feels distant. This does not happen every time that I begin to pray. Sometimes there is an energy and a passion and a wonderful sense of closeness with him, but sometimes my praying feels empty, like nobody is listening.
I am not alone in these kinds of experiences. All past and present followers of Christ have experienced what I just described. Even the greatest Christian figure that you can think of right now experienced moments of emptiness during their prayers with the Lord. Why is this? Why is there not always instant intimacy and passion when we get on our knees before the throne of God? After all, isn’t he supposed to be our favorite person and greatest joy?
I don’t know why there is not always wonderful joy when we are praying to God. Perhaps our minds are sometimes distracted from focusing on who God truly is and what we want to speak with him about. There is a mental wrestling that needs to happen when we pray. On one side of the mental wrestling mat are all of our distractions, the things that our mind can quickly start to think about while we pray. On the other side of the mat is our determination to speak and hear from God almighty. This can be quite an intense battle, often going back and forth for a long time. I hope you understand this analogy. Our thoughts are often times hard to control and it can be a battle to try to remain focused on praying. This mental battle can feel like a wrestling match going back and forth between moments of focused prayer and distracted daydreaming. When you experience this, do not feel ashamed or alone, instead press on and fight all the more to spend time in meaningful prayer with God.
God told Jeremiah that people find him when they seek him with all of their hearts. There is an intensity involved in finding closeness with him. We cannot be people who give up easily when we begin to become distracted or bored during our prayers. If you throw in the towel and quit praying every time that you become frustrated with how hard it is to focus, then you will never become a person who knows how to pray, and prayer will always seem strange and pointless to you. This might even lead to feelings of guilt because the church often talks about the importance of prayer in the lives of each individual Christian. And it’s true, prayer should be a regular part of the Christian’s life.
Praying is not always easy but you get better at it the more that you do it, as long as you practice wrestling through distractions too. God does not want to remain distant from us. God wants to be pursued and found, he does not desire distance, he wants closeness. But he always wants you to think highly enough of him to be willing to spend time fighting in your mind to find him. He’s worth fighting for. What are we telling him if we give up so quickly on our prayers because it’s just too hard to focus? Surely that must hurt him to know that we do not find him worthy enough to seek after him harder.
If you really want to be close to God it’s going to take time and it’s going to take a little bit of work. Prove to him that you really want to find him. Don’t give up so quickly. Grow, improve, fight for him and you will find him … if you seek him with all of your heart.