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Struggling with my Faith
  • So I've really been struggling lately with my faith and I need some guidance and could use all the help. I so not have a personal relationship with God and don't see Him in my life and I don't know what to do. I pray but i feel that it's empty because I don't feel Him there so I'm I think no one is listening. I've tried to change before but I know with out seeking God out first it would never work. Not having God in my life really has out a huge hole in my heart and I know I have been filling it with worldly things I just don't know how to change it. Any advice? Any books that I can read? Anything? I can also use your prayers.

    P.S. I know you'll say talk to your FOC but due to some problems I no longer have a FOC and it's really hard to find a new one.
  • Hi Mary, I'm in the exact same drought as you are. And since I'm in the same position, I can't offer any words of my own. But I did find this, and I think it'll help us both. 

     
  • You know what? I'm exactly like you. So who am I to provide these sites when I can't even use them to help myself?

    You're going through a faith-crisis? Me too. I'm starting to believe that fasting doesn't work. The arrow prayer doesn't work. It's all in my head. So I hope someone who's actually close to God can help us out here.

    So please forgive me for acting like I know what's going on, when really I don't. I used to. Not anymore. Nothing else to say.

  • there are not any simple answers, because each person's situation is different.
    but many people have felt low and far from God and then developed stronger faith after.

    things that can make you feel this way include mental health problems like depression, so if you are having trouble eating and sleeping and feel worthless, please see your doctor.

    other things that make people feel far from God are sins. so if you have some bad habit that you slipped back into, now is the time to be determined to overcome it.
    you can enjoy God at the same time as enjoying your sin.

    if it's neither of these, then it's probably just the common problem (we have all been there) of being overwhelmed by the negative aspects of life and taking your focus off God.
    if you have tried everything but nothing works, then simplify your spiritual life by praying short prayers (like 'our Father') once or twice a day and only fasting as much as you know you can.
    read a small piece of the Bible each day, and spend lots of time praying to God asking for direction and confessing your sins to Him.
    praise Him for His might acts and endless love (He is worthy, even if we don't 'feel' like it) and take any opportunity you have to help the poor or lonely people.

    did you listen to this? i love this sermon more than all others!

    may God bring you peace and spiritual healing, through the prayers of the virgin saint mary, pope shenouda 3rd and all the saints.
  • If you want I can email you my book Reasonable Christianity, its all the factual evidence that led me to where I am now. Any number of my books may help as they all deal with defending the faith and give some excellent arguments for the faith. PM me if interested.
  • Dearest friends,

    While I and the others here would love to help, there is little we can do beyond offer prayers on your behalf because as was said previously, each spiritual situation is unique and requires a special touch.

    The best advice I can offer is to be open and honest with your spiritual father/father of confession regarding these feelings. His on-going relationship with you through the mystery of repentance will be of great help, both in his ability to guide you spiritual and in your own spiritual struggles, since through repentance we affirm our need for God's grace in our life and ask Him for it.

    If you are willing, I will try to offer what little advice I can, not as someone particularly close to God (truly indeed, I am a sinner); but rather as a fellow traveler who believes we all experience these moments in our spiritual life.

    It seems that each of you is experiencing a similar condition, which is a struggle for faith, but arising from a different cause.

    @CoptPride seems to be acknowledging a weakness in prayer along with an inability to change it. If I am understanding you correctly, it seems you struggle to even establish a spiritual routine, and this is felt acutely as a separation from God or a weak relationship with him?

    @CopticStrength seems to be acknowledging a struggle to maintain a routine because of an apparent lack of results?

    If I am incorrect in this, please forgive me my ignorance and if you are willing, try to explain again.

    I'll try to offer what little I can based on my understanding as outlined previously.
  • @CoptPride - My own spiritual father gave me some advice that I think may benefit you in building up a spiritual routine. He reminded me that God does not always focus on our "success" but rather on our "struggle" for success.

    The question to ask yourself is, are you making a struggle? If so, then let this struggle reflect in your prayers. Acknowledge your weakness, and ask God to grant you grace. Even if it's only as simple as "God, how I want to pray, but I don't know how. Please teach me to pray."

    If the answer you find is that you're not making a struggle, then you should ask yourself why, and focus repenting of this, especially through prayer & confession.

    I am reminded of a beautiful prayer from Abba Arsenius, related to his desire to live a life of repentance before God:

    Oh God, do not leave me; for I have done nothing good in your sight. Only now, according to your goodness, please allow me to make a beginning of good.

    Tradition teaches us that he used to pray this when being attacked by demons.

    Another technique you may wish to apply, but only with great care and the advice of your spiritual father is self-directed anger. 

    Some of the Fathers of the Desert write about the "Incensive" or "Irascible" faculty of our Soul, which we can apply positively to our spiritual life by directing a little anger at ourselves to kick us into gear. "Why am I neglecting my spiritual life, when God is so merciful and patient with me?"

    St. Ignatius of Antioch, an early Christian Martyr offers us this advice:

    Why do you increase your bonds? Take hold of your life before your light grows dark and you seek help and do not find it. This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.

    St. John Climacus (a favorite among many Orthodox Christians during the Holy Fast) offers us this advice:

    While a wound is still new and warm, it is easy to heal. Old wounds, carelessly left to fester are not easily healed, but require much effort, cutting, dusting [with medications] and cauterizations. With time, many wounds become intractable but for God everything is possible (Matthew 19: 26). The later the repentance, the more arduous it becomes.

    I think the most important thing to grab from that in a sense of urgency in repentance, combined with acceptance as God as the true source of the strength. Without Him, we can do nothing, however with Him all things are possible.

    Please remember me in your prayers.

  • @CopticStrength - This seems to be a more difficult issue you face, please forgive my inability to offer anything other than my prayers.

    If you are willing, I would like to ask some questions to gain a deeper understanding.

    When you say "fasting doesn't work" what is it that you are hoping fasting will accomplish?

    The same for the application of the "Arrow Prayers," what is the expected outcome?


Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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