Unfortunately, too many of us Christians, have asked this question. Some may call it burnout, others drifting away. No matter what you call it, feeling like we are not close to God is an awful feeling. More than an awful feeling it stops us from being effective for kingdom purposes.
There are several things we can do as Christians to avoid drifting away and getting closer to God again.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4 ESV)
These verses warn us as Christians to pay closer attention to the salvation we have in Christ so that we don’t drift away. We can do that because we can trust God. Before Christ God’s people could trust God because the angels gave them God’s truth. We now have God’s word in the Bible. We know this is true because it was declared by God, was seen by human eyewitnesses, and was made clear through God’s power.
If we keep our eyes on Christ and the Gospel we will not drift and can be closer to God again. Here are 8 ways to get closer to God again. These 8 ways are prescribed in scripture and can be seen done by Jesus and his disciples throughout the New Testament.
1. Read God’s Word
We are called to put off our old selves and be renewed in the spirit of our minds. We can do this by being in God’s word.
“…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV)
Reading God’s word can be done in several ways. You can read it for breadth, intaking a lot of chapters in a day. Or you can do it more slowly studying and meditating on it. We will cover studying God’s Word and Meditating On God’s Word later in this article. For this section, we are going to cover reading it for pure consumption.
This is something that you will not just fall into. It must be a practical thing you plan on doing. Set your alarm earlier in the morning. Or place your Bible on your pillow so you can’t go to sleep without deciding to move your Bible or read it. You can also choose to listen to the Bible on your phone. You can play it during your normal daily routines when you are in the car, or as you lie in bed.
The reason we read the entire Bible is to expose you to the greatness of God. As you read large amounts daily you may not understand all of it, but you will begin to see God moving throughout the story. Keep your eyes open to the big picture of how God has always had the plan to redeem His people through Christ.
2. Study God’s Word
This is different than just reading the Bible. This is reading the Bible intending to understand the meaning of the text. We do this so we can know what God intended scripture to say rather than just reading it through our own sinful and cultural lens.
Begin first by observing what is in the text. Just like in English class as a kid find who, what, when, and where. See if you can recognize what kind of writing it is, perhaps it is a story, law, song, or revelation. Observe if there are any repeating words or interesting thoughts. You can even jot down questions you may have.
Second, read additional study notes to help you study. There are some great study Bibles out there. Remember God’s text is always the most important and inspiring. However, there have been some great study Bibles. Ask your pastor which one they think would be best.
Third, apply this to your life. You don’t want to simply know God’s word and not allow it to affect you. Even the demons knew God’s word. We will discuss applying and obeying God’s word later in this article.
Be careful not to jump to the application before first observing and studying. Some have the practice of doing this and are in danger of taking God’s word out of context and making it fit their sinful desires.
Commit yourself to studying God’s word. This will take a significant amount of time throughout your week to study. But if you are feeling far from God it is so important that you make the time and effort to study God’s word. He will draw near as you draw near.
3. Meditate on God’s Word
Meditating on God’s word is not like meditation that the world promotes. You are not clearing your mind, but rather filling it with God’s word.
While reading God’s word for breadth there may have been a passage that stuck out to you. Or perhaps the section of scripture you studied that week is challenging and impacting your life. Take these verses and think over them for 15 to 30 minutes a day.
This doesn’t have to be all at once, actually, as you think about it throughout the day you will begin to meditate more and more. Think about what that passage teaches you about God. Think about how it challenges you or perhaps is calling you to repentance.
You can journal as you meditate or talk through the verses you have been meditating on with others.
Meditating isn’t hard, simply think about a passage of God’s word, come back to it over and over again throughout the week, and keep it in front of you throughout your day.
4. Memorize God’s Word
Memorizing may seem like a daunting task. Or may even remind you of a task you did as a kid. It may even still feel like a task. However, this is a discipline that will help you draw closer to God. That’s because it puts the living word in your head and heart, where no one can steal it away.
It’s easy to just look up a verse on the internet and so it may seem like a waste of time to memorize God’s word. However, knowing God’s Word allows the Spirit to minister to you and others when you need it.
5. Pray to Our God
Prayer connects us to God. It may feel intimidating at first. And we should always approach the throne of God with reverence. But there should also be a comfort as we come before a God who chose us, forgave us, and is sanctifying us until the day Christ returns.
As you have been in God’s word it should begin to inspire you to pray. This website has many prayer prompts if you need help getting started on specific prayers. You can also get into the psalms and pray through God’s word.
We are also promised that the Holy Spirit will guide us, especially when we don’t know what to pray. So simply come before the Lord almighty and talk with Him. Share your thoughts, praise Him for who He is, repent of your sins, ask for guidance, and simply talk to Him.
6. Solitude and Silence Before God
This is a hard one in this busy world we live in. We are tempted to always be moving, getting things done, and accomplishing much. We are tempted to make much of ourselves but being in solitude and silence before God puts life into perspective.
When we slow down and are silent before God He can speak to us. Often it’s through bringing back to mind the scripture we have been reading, studying, meditating on, and memorizing.
Be careful not to confuse your thoughts with God’s revelation to you. When God speaks to you during these times of solitude and silence it will always be backed up with truth found in scripture.
7. Apply and Obey God’s Word
As you read, pray, and spend time with God you will become closer to God. It’s important not to just keep this closeness to yourself. As Christians we are called to glorify God with our lives, to love Him, and love others.
So take what you have been learning about and apply it to your life. Let God’s word transform you from the inside out.
Many will try and apply and obey before being filled by God first through His Word. This is when we begin to drift. Applying God’s word and obeying what He calls us to do is important but must be out of a heart that is filled by God.
The Spirit wants to use the Word in your life to help you grow closer to Him not cause you to drift away. So allow God to draw you close through His word so He can use you in the lives of others.
8. Church Membership
God gave us a beautiful opportunity to be part of His body and He organized this in what we call a church. As you get into God’s word it is clear that being part of the church body is an important part of our Christian walk and will help us get closer to God.
The conversations you have with other believers should encourage you to get into God’s word and live a life that is honoring God. They will care for you in your weakness and give you opportunities to share God’s love with others.
If your church has church membership, join. Observe what it looks like to be obedient to older wiser Christians as you seek to draw closer to God. If your church doesn’t observe church membership speak with a pastor about how you can be more involved. The church should not be an observer activity but an active one.
As you get involved with your church you will begin to not only feel closer to the church body but also feel closer to Christ.
If you feel that you’ve drifted too far away from God, then don’t be afraid because as long as you seek His light you will find Him. I understand that it’s not always easy, especially when you feel that you’re alone in this journey, but you’re not alone.
I pray that you will begin to take the steps of getting closer to him. I pray that today you open your Bible, pray again to God, speak to him, and search for him in his written words and his home the church.
I pray that you begin to live out this beautiful life God has called you to and you can share your struggles and how you are combatting drifting away from being close to God. If there is a prayer you seek that can bring you or your loved ones closer to Him then comment below so we can share more prayers with you and pray with you as you draw near to God.