There's a verse that I keep thinking about: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." I don't know where it is exactly in the Bible... this is just off the top of my head.
So, I need suggestions as to how to do just that! I appreciate that this is done by praying, reading the Bible, fasting, etc... the same standard answers, but those are not the answers I'm looking for. I need deeper answers. I need to know how to build a direct and personal relationship with God.
I heard a sermon by Abouna Antony this morning in which he explained that inside each of us, there is a "Judas" that betrays Jesus, and that the only way to get rid of that is to put our trust in God. So I was thinking that even if we put our trust in God, we won't be able to fully unless we have a close relationship with Him. Right? And this brings me back to my question: How do we do that?
I humbly respond, i pray the Holy Spirit guides you into Eternal Life
On a daily basis, set apart time for God.
Examine your life to see times where you rely on yourself too much by saying don't come to me Lord, my life is smooth, or im too busy for you or much worse turn to satan or people for sustenance perhaps out of lack of faith or impatience etc, those are opportunities where you could lean on God and know that he is a rock that shall never be moved, call on God, we leave the rock, the rock does not leave us, by staying on the rock we flee satan because then you will learn that there is every reason in the world to be with God and every reason in the world to flee satan.....Prayer is the key, spiritual songs, spiritual books, hymns....
Glory to the Lord forever. Amen
i deal with that same thing. I advise you to
look at these questions and answers by
HG Bishop Youssef:
I think what u didnt want to hear as an answer is
really an answer...but i understand how u feel.
You just have to know that growing closer to
God is a longtime process...u cant just see progress
in a day or week...just like when u eat. You dont
see yourself growing after the meal, but after a year..
u see the growth! So, you just keep praying and reading
the bible..fill your heart with that stuff...and u will keep
getting closer to God. Dont let the devil decieve u either
and say you are not drawing closer to Him, bc u are...
thats the best i can answer...i pray that we both
can grow in our relationship with God =]
kefleyohannes, I think your idea is very similar if not exactly the same as that of spiritual fathers who recommend setting aside spiritual time everyday. The thing is, though that sometimes, even during this spiritual time, one doesn't feel close to God. Do you know what I mean? I feel silly for saying this even, but the devil is really sneaky. He won't tell you to stop praying at all, but he will take your mind off of God and make you focus on other things. That for me, is the problem!
Abounasarecool, I really liked the links that you posted! I just kept reading and reading and even read some that were off topic... thanks for sharing :) I would recommend other people to read them as well! Do you know who the Bishop is, who serves that diocese??
& yes i feel the same way...
but i had a conversation about this with someone
and sometimes we try to see God through emotions
but He doesnt reveal himself to us in that way, but through different ways.
We try to see him in one way...but he reveals himself through different ways.
Like for example, the Holy Spirit. When we get up for church....thats the holy spirit
leading and directing us! same when we pray and read the bible..the holy spirit
is constantly working in us in everything we do =]
Anba Youssef is very wise and I really like how he answers questions from a scientific and spiritual perspective to make it more convincing and applicable to our lives. You are very blessed to have him! I wish we had a bishop...
I have the same problems sometimes (lack of emotion towards God), but I heard something from HH Pope Shenouda that helped me. He said when you pray, ask God for whatever your prayer is lacking. If it lacks emotion, ask God for emotion. If it lacks focus, ask God for focus, etc. Just offer whatever prayer you can, and tell God, "This is all I've got. You have to give me the rest." And this is even in the Agpeya. In the 2nd Watch of the Midnight Hour we pray, "Give me, O Lord, many fountains of tears, as You gave, in the past, the sinful woman."
I have only really begun to realize recently how easy everything is with prayer. God is incredibly accessible, and attaining virtues is as simple as praying for God to give them to you. I really feel that prayer is more important than any other spiritual activity. There is no substitute. If you simply pray for God to draw near to you, and in fact dwell inside you, do you think He will refuse? (Luke 11:13)
I know you said you weren't looking for the "standard answers" like prayer, but there's a reason they're standard. If you haven't found them successful, the issue is probably with the application, not the answer itself. Maybe try reading Orthodox Prayer Life by Fr. Matta alMaskeen? Also, this is amazing and relevant (sry if you've already seen it):
While you're at it, please pray for me :)
thanks for the post and the link--they are both amazing!
May God bless you and reward you.
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15
I recommend that everyone watches it!
im sorry u dont have a bishop =[
But know that we all come together at
the altar and also in heaven =]
Teji, I actually have seen this clip before, but I enjoy listening to it over and over again because the more I listen to it, the more it makes me think... it helps me to remember. So, thank you for sharing! Abounasarecool, are you sure you don't mean Marmoura instead of Mabsouta? lol I agree with you though that we will eventually come together, but having a bishop is such a great blessing that we're missing over here!
i saw one of the british bishops at the weekend, baraka kibeera, really a blessing.
i will pray for those who don't have one and for their priests, that God keeps them strong until they get a bishop.
anba antony was explaining about the peace that is given us by Jesus, we must leave everything else (things that keep us from God) and draw near to God, and this peace is what we will receive.
please pray for those churches without a bishop, that all the people will work hard to help their priests and support them and pray for them.
but it's very rewarding.
start each day with a prayer, eg say 'our father...' and add your own praises and petitions.
now it's lent, so it's a great time to kneel in prostration at the start and end of the day, and confess your sins.
as you leave the house, thank God you have a reason to leave the house and ask Him to guide you in the day.
when you have a break at school/ work, spend a few minutes in prayer, eg go for a short walk, take the stairs when others take the lift, pray on the way to the bathroom etc.
pray before you eat. thank God when someone smiles at you. (btw some old guy smiled at me quite randomly today, i was feeling stressed, i definately didn't smile first, but i thanked God for reminding me of His love in the old guy's face.)
ask God for love and mercy when someone is mean to you, and thank Him for the chance to show mercy.
pray when you get home, and make time for Bible study, if you didn't already do that in the morning.
pray when you're about to relax with your favourite tv program or favourite website (this one, of course!) and ask God for guidance about what you watch. if you didn't already pray that day, probably God's guidance will be to switch it off and go and pray! be willing to give things up for God.
think about all the people who annoy you, and pray for them. repent of your low tolerance and pride (sorry, i'm assuming you may be sinful like me!)
think of the people who bless you and pray for them. maybe call them and encourage them as well.
if you drive, pray for all the stupid drivers on the road, that God will show them His mercy. it's better than shouting at them!
go to church. pray from the agpeya. pray with other Christians.
so, in short, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and the Holy Spirit will be given to you.
may God guide us all in this holy fast to be more like Him.
Sodr2, I understand that righteous works are also very important in developing a spiritual life. However, I truly believe that one cannot serve selflessly without haveing a true and honest relationship with God first. Anyone can "serve", but it can be for selfish reasons (ie. I want to look good infront of others, it makes me feel good, I want to show off, I want to feel like I did something good, etc...). Yet, it is God who gives us selflessness and true love with which to serve. He gives us the patience to deal with others, He gives us the love to put others before ourselves, He gives us a spirit of repentance so we don't become proud or arrogant... without Him, our service and "good works" are completely meaningless!
I said doing the will of God, not "good works." Doing what God wants us to do. Love isn't a feeling.
Love is not a feeling.
Indeed in the Christian life feelings do not matter so much at all. Those feelings which do come to matter are the fruit of deep and spiritual experience over some time. An abiding confidence in God, for instance. A sustaining sense of his presence with us at all times and in all circumstances. But these are not feelings in a superficial emotional sense.
We are called to be obedient and faithful. Everything else is a gift.
For example, if I pray and I don't feel like God is listening (although I know He really is), then after a while I'll get tired of talking because it would feel as if I'm speaking to myself. However, if I pray and my emotions get stirred up, then I'll "feel" God's presence and want to pray more often. I know that God is always present in our lives, but at the same time, I believe that we need to feel His presence to further our relationship with Him.
I know that this doesn't come overnight but takes lots of work to achieve, but I can't help reading the lives of the saints and wishing that I had this relationship with God myself. They started somewhere and I want to start on the same path that would lead me to have that close relationship with God.
I believe that God wants us to have this relationship with Him. Yes, we are called to be obedient, faithful and trusting of God, but God is also our Father and one does not trust or obey one's earthly father without having a good relationship with him and loving him.. so why not with God?
I know you don't mean this, but what you say sounds a little like - I will love God if he gives me reasons to love him.
Even if we never have any sense of God's presence, even if everything seems to go wrong in our lives, even if every day we cry out, 'My God, my God why have you forsaken me?'. Even so, we should seek to be obedient and faithful every moment.
We should pray, Lord, I feel no warmth in my prayer, no sense of your closeness, yet still I offer this humble sacrifice of praise asking only that you be glorified.
If we only want to pray when we feel good then we have not begun to pray at all. A close relationship with God is always within our grasp, but we must abandon any sense that God owes us anything, or that we deserve anything but condemnation. If the Lord grants consolations then we should receive them while they last with gratitude. The great Christians tend to live with long periods of dryness and a sense of God's absence. If we must always feel something then we will be like the seed sown on shallow soil that springs up enthusiastically and then withers away when things get tough.
Spiritual life only comes through death, like the seed that is buried in the ground. We must be willing to die to every pleasure, every sense of enjoyment, every hope for our future and live only for God, who will then grant us much more than we could imagine. But if we will not die to ourselves and all pleasure and enjoyment of life on our own terms then we will not be in a position to receive grace from God. True faith is praying when there is no emotional sense of God being there for us at all, just a bare and immovable foundational conviction that he is there even though we cannot sense him.
May the Lord sustain us all
Spiritual life is so hard =[
The refining of precious metal in a furnace is hard.
The shaping of a precious jewel is hard.
Our Lord has plans for us, that we might shine like that jewel, but none of this can be obtained or acheived without pain, suffering, effort, hardship, perseverance and patience.
It is for the hope of the glory set before us that we endure all things. But especially for God's own glory.
The moments of light and life are just enough to sustain us when the going gets tough. He will never test us beyond what we can bear, and always provides all that we need to be obedient and faithful.
Thanks be to God
Have a rule of prayer, bible reading, and study. Worship regularly. Receive communion.
And ask God every day how you can serve him. Ask him to show you ways of service, and to give you all the grace you need to serve. And don't look for big things, but small and humble means of service in your own home, and among your circle, and in your congregation.
Put yourself second and others first when you have a choice. All we need to do is begin and persevere. God will do the rest.
Thank you for your patience with me. I know that sometimes what I write does not correspond with what I mean to say.
I do pray regardless and I do ask God to bring me closer to Him, but I don't want prayer to consist of just words. I want to "feel" my prayers. I'm not sure if even that explains what I mean! When I pray infront of a picture of Christ, for example, or a cross in Church, I feel God's mighty power and His presence. I know both mentally and psychologically (if I can even use that term) that He's listening to my prayers. This is not consistent, however. One day I get that and another 10 I don't. How do I get that from every prayer? I hear about people becoming so taken by prayer that they might start to cry while praying and I've even done so myself a few times, but I want it to be consistent. I want to be able to pray from my heart and not just superficially.
Of course I understand that this, like any reward, takes much work and perseverance but I want to start on the right track and work towards that!
keep praying! cultivating a deep and fruitful prayer life takes time, and we don't always "feel" close to the Lord when we pray. sometimes we do, other times we don't.
there are some who say "if you don't feel awesome and on top of the world and full of joy when you pray, you're doing something wrong", but i disagree. even the great saints went through difficult periods when prayer was tough, felt mechanical, dry, or difficult to get through.
praying short, simple prayers throughout the day may be more helpful at times than trying to concentrate on longer prayers. a simple "Father, help me to do Your will and to love You today and serve You for Christ's sake" said with love and earnestness is a good prayer. also, tell the Lord about Your spiritual lowpoints. "Father, i feel low and dry... i can not always feel Your presence but i would like to. help me to trust You, and to know that You are with me, Lord. Your will be done in my life, amen".
keep praying Marmoura, and remember that we can offer Him our sorrow and disappointments, too.
This is so true, I was thinking of the same thing, about how drawing near to God.
I just like to say that tasbeha.org is such a amazing forum, full love, wisdom and peace,
and I feel we are all brothers and sisters from each other. I thank God for give us this great blessing,
and I hope we all continue like this, helping each other and leading each other, and encourage each other.
Love you all brothers & sista's :D
+God Bless and Remember me in your prayers!+
First, I'd like to welcome you to this site. I hope you enjoy it and benefit from it as much as we all do.
Second, I would like to ask you to clarify if you could, please. I'm not quite sure I understand exactly what you mean.