Many Christians no longer attend a church, though they still believe in God and Jesus. I’ve seen the survey results.* Those surveys also found than many of the de-churched, as well as some who still attend a church, feel that God was missing from their experience of church. Maybe that’s why so many people leave—they go to church looking for God, but don’t find Him there.
Have you gone to a church looking for God? I think you needed to look somewhere else, for as Jesus said:
“On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:20, emphasis added)
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, emphasis added)
You’ll find God by looking within yourself. Want more assurance? How about this:
“And I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, … declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:14, emphasis added)
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” (1 John 4:15, emphasis added)
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Convinced? So how do you find God and get a sense of His presence? How can you feel God within you? Here’s the path that worked for me:
- It starts with faith.
- A growing craving for God’s presence.
- Keep praying, and wait for God to reveal Himself to you.
First, you need to believe you can feel God’s presence within you. You need to believe in the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ promises about He being in you, and you being in Him. As Jesus and God are one, so can you and Jesus be one. And like all things, to experience it you must first believe it.
Faith will automatically lead to an ever-growing hunger for God’s presence. And, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Hunger will lead you to prayer. I’m talking about an unceasing and silent prayer, not an asking-for-favors prayer, but a prayer where you’re listening and looking for the Spirit of God and Jesus within you. The more you pray and look, the sooner you’ll find God. And,“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)
So keep praying, and waiting. This part, the waiting part, requires patience, the hardest part for me—I hope your wait is shorter than mine was. But while you wait, read the Bible and look for where God and Jesus promise their presence. Let their promises encourage you and strengthen your belief. For me, waiting was where I grew the most. So I think waiting is as critical a step on this path to God as the others. “Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
* You can see the survey results for yourself in two very interesting books, both by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group. “Churchless; Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them,” and “unChristian; What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity.”