The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth
Psalm 145:18

Last summer I was hanging out with a teenage friend of mine at Caribou Coffee.

“Sometimes when I pray,” she said, “God feels so far away.”

I knew how she felt. Sometimes prayer feels like a ball you throw that no one catches. Or a text you send that no one reads. A door you knock on but no one ever opens.

So what do you say? How do you encourage your kids to pray when it seems like God is far away?

Question: How come God feels so distant? How come I don’t feel things that others say they feel when they pray? 

What a parent can say

(Put this in your own words. If you’re comfortable, show your kids the verses mentioned, so they can see it for themselves.)

The absolute truth

Have you ever been incredibly excited to see someone? A cousin you only get to see once a year, a grandma you love to the moon and back, or your dad who’s been away on a looong trip?

That’s how excited God is to spend time with you. He loves to be near you and can’t wait for you to come near to him. That’s the absolute truth; it’s the desire deep in God’s heart. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).

So why doesn’t it FEEL like God is near? 

A couple reasons. Feelings are like a caboose. They aren’t supposed to lead; they’re supposed to follow. That’s because feelings change. They come, they go. They’re up, they’re down. So…truth isn’t decided by how you feel. 

You might not feel like you’re growing every day, but you are. You might not feel like you’re standing on an earth that’s round, but you are. God may not feel near, but he may actually be very near. 

But I don’t feel things others say they feel when they pray?

Your friendship with God is unique. It’s not going to look like his relationship with someone else. He shows up differently to different people, so don’t get confused when what happens to you is different from what happens to someone else.

Can’t I do something about it?

Ask God why He feels so far away. Seriously. Remember my teenage friend from the introduction story above?

“Sometimes God feels so far away,” she said.

So I suggested, “Let’s pray and ask God to show you why that is.”

And we did. We prayed and were silent, waiting for God to bring something to her mind.

After a minute or so I asked, “Did God bring something to your mind?”

“My cell phone. I think I need to spend time away from my phone.” In those quiet moments, God told her what was drowning out his voice. 

Sometimes God is just quiet. He doesn’t talk on demand. What you can do is just be sure you’re listening when he does.

Some things actually can separate you from God like…

  • Our busyness can make God seem far away.
  • If he’s said something to you before and you’ve ignored him, he can seems far away.
  • If you have sin in your heart and won’t let go, God can seem far away.

IF there’s a specific reason and you ask, he’ll let you know. You do not need to try and figure out the reason–just ask! God is near to anyone who calls out to him “in truth” (they really mean it) (Psalm 145:18) and quick to forgive if you ask. (1 John 1:9).

What a parent can say (the bullet point answer)

  • Know the truth: God can’t wait to be close to you. 
  • Feelings change ALL the time, so build your relationship with God on faith and fact, not feelings.
  • Your relationship with God is unique and can’t be compared to anyone else’s friendship with him.
  • If you ask God if there’s a specific reason he seems distant, he’ll show you what it is. 

Copyright © Carol Garborg 2019

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