Bible Christian Living Prayer

A.S.K -Feeling God is Far Away

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BIBLE READING: Psalm 13

TEXT: How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 13:1-2)

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Often I feel that God is far away. There are times when I really sense his presence but many more times when that is not the case. The worst times are when I long for his presence, but although I know he hears and answers, yet I do not ‘feel’. What are we to do in such circumstances? This short psalm really helps us.

David feels that God has forgotten him. He cannot see God’s face – this was a way of expressing that he thought that God’s favour was not upon him and that God had looked away from him. This caused him to wrestle with his thoughts and have sorrow in his heart. He felt that his enemy was triumphing over him. Things are not good for him – so what does he do? He prays in verses 3-4. He takes every circumstance to the Lord. His doubts, his fears and what is happening to him. We don’t just pray when we ‘feel’ close to God. Perhaps we need to pray all the more when we feel far away.

But you will notice that he doesn’t just pray for his own feelings, but he prays for God’s glory. That is what really bothers him. There is also an element of despair in his prayer. Sometimes the Lord lets us come to an end of ourselves so that we will truly turn to him. One of our great fears is that because of our feelings we think that the Lord has forgotten us. In that case we need to turn to the Word of God, and not our feelings.

What does God say should be the question – not what do I feel. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:14-15) Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

The fact is that our hearts will often condemn us – but God is greater than our hearts. Paul for example felt that he was under great pressure and despaired even of life (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But such trials are designed to bring us closer to God, not take us further away. Often what we thought were deep experiences of the presence of God were actually quite shallow. In order to go deeper sometimes God has to cut deep.

Recognising the problem – seeking the Lord’s face – asking him if there is any blockage, any hidden sin within us – and looking to his Word rather than our feelings will eventually lead to what David experienced in verses five and six. He Praises –There is a transformation in attitude if not in circumstances. There is no indication that what had caused his despair and feeling far away was changed. But what changed was his perception and his focus. Now he trusts in God’s unfailing love, not his feelings. It’s not that the feelings are unimportant. He wants to feel close to God. It’s just that he does not rely on, or begin with the feelings. He rejoices in God’s salvation and he is then able to sing his praises. That is often the pattern. For you and your family it is important to look to Christ and seek him as you find him in his Word. Pray, have fellowship with his people, and hold on in the dark hours.

I have often found books such as the one I suggest below really helpful, because they take time to assess our hearts and gently lead us back into the presence of Christ.

CONSIDER: Why do you think you might feel far from the presence of God? What is the danger of relying on your feelings rather than the Word of God? How important are your feelings?

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: The Bruised Reed – Richard Sibbes

PRAYER: How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:1-2

A.S.K – Loving Yourself

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2 comments

  1. Yes to:
    1 Praying for God’s glory. Easy to say but tried and tested in reality.
    2 Bruised Reed and much else by Richard Sibbes.
    I’d also add “Communion with God” and the Glory of Christ by John Owen: Banner of Truth.
    While off the radar to much of the church, Abide in Christ,(old version) by Andrew Murray, was used much by the Lord, during 6 weeks hospitalisation from heart attack and resulting by-pass op.
    Maybe it is seen as too much piety, too mystical, whereas John Owen is barely less so at times.
    What, actually, does Union in Christ mean or is manifest in reality?

  2. Thank you, a word in season to encourage my heart in a time when the cuts are deep, even to the core and assurance that our Heavenly Father is in control. His ways are perfect, LORD help me keep my eyes fixed on you and lead me in your will.

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