Sometimes, despite regular prayer and frequenting the sacraments, God feels distant from us. Why do we feel far from God, and what can we do to fix it? Fr. Mark Matthias, parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Bayside, Queens in the Diocese of Brooklyn, joined Morning Air® to discuss this question.
“Every so often someone will come to me and say, ‘Father, I’m coming to Mass and I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and I’m praying, but I still feel as though God’s not near me—that he just feels so far away,’” said Fr. Matthias. “We have to keep in mind that every time that we enter into prayer or conversation with Our Lord, we’re not always going to have possibly the same charismatic experience as we do on some occasions. I find that this is one of the reasons why people feel as though God’s not there. Because when they started spending time with him in prayer and receiving the sacraments more, they really felt his grace being poured into them. So unless they have that same intense feeling, they feel as though God has wandered off.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth. And how do we know that? Well, because God tells us in scripture that he’s always near. In fact, the very last words that Jesus speaks in Matthew’s record of the Gospel are: ‘And lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.’ Also, in the Old Testament we hear in Isaiah’s writings, ‘Fear not, I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God.” And even in the Letter of James it says, ‘Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.’ Which, again, doesn’t mean you’re always going to feel the presence of Our Lord, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not there.”
Though God is always near us, we may not feel close to him. “We may think were putting enough time into our relationship with God, but in reality maybe we’re not doing everything he commanded us to do. And at first, we reach out to Him in prayer or in service and so he made his presence more known. But then he wants us to go to the next level; he wants us to put more effort in yet again, and then he will respond to say, ‘You’re going in the right direction—keep going,’” explained Fr. Matthias.
“And so sometimes when we experience a bit of desolation or a feeling as though God’s not in our lives, it may be his message to us to say, try harder to get through to me. Say an extra prayer, do an extra good work, and don’t stop drawing near me because I’m here, but I want it to go to the next level of intimacy.”