We live in tough times. Killings. Wars. Sickness. Financial struggles. Racism and anti-Semitism. Constant distractions. For believers, it is challenging to feel God in our lives. Yet, letting God in might be the best way to get through one’s day.
“We live in an age of noise and distraction,” noted Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), an organization that promotes understanding between Jews and Christians and builds broad support for Israel.
“Our TVs, computers, and smartphones pull our attention in a thousand directions at once. We’re bombarded daily with stories and images that seek – that seem to demand – our immediate attention, whether or not they are worthy of attention,” he said.
This constant bombardment of information does not necessarily bring one closer to true wisdom nor to a relationship with God, claimed Rabbi Eckstein. The continual distractions make one lose sight of the things that truly matter: a relationship with God, family and friends.
Rabbi Eckstein, based on Proverbs 2:6 (“’For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding”), advises that the way to come close to God and receive true wisdom is through “prayer, reading Scripture and quiet reflection. It means being silent and listening for God’s word to us.”
Here are additional actions one may take to build a closer relationship with God and feel His presence.
- Free yourself from distractions for short periods of time. This leads to a greater chance to “be in the moment” which can often bring you to recognize that God leads your life and is with you, even in challenging times. Pockets of silence open a space to “hear God’s word” and can bring clarity and Godly connection into view.
- Study scripture. The Bible is the written word of God. Set aside even a few minutes a day to become familiar with scripture. The Talmud says, “Words from the heart, enter the heart.” As the Bible is the word of God, this is a sure-fire way to become closer to Him.
- The Bible states that God is never-changing even as the world is constantly evolving. There is comfort in knowing that God is stable even when the world and your life is off-balance. Placing faith in God’s strength does not lead to weakness. Rather, it brings strength and builds a Godly relationship.
- Spend time each day in personal or formal prayer. During personal prayer, one should speak to God in one’s own words as if speaking to a best friend. This humble devotion awakens your spirit to the realization that you are not in charge. Rather, God runs the world as He sees fit. Prayer can lead to a greater understanding of His kindness and compassion. Additionally, through prayer, you can recognize that, though things may not turn out as you had hoped or expected, they always turn out for the best and are part of God’s ultimate plan. Rabbi Eckstein recommends that people pray often while ensuring that your words come from their heart. In addition, Rabbi Eckstein teaches, “He wants you to pray for other people so that they will repent and be healed.”
- Volunteer and help others. By serving others, you emulate God, who supports us 24/7. Through interacting with those who experience challenges, people often more readily see God’s blessings in their own lives.
- Keep a journal. You should include your prayers along with the outcome of your prayers, as well as things for which you are grateful. By counting blessings, a person realizes that God has granted him much more than he deserves. This can be a humbling wake-up call to more clearly see God’s intervention in your life.
- Be honest. God knows the truth of what is in your heart. However, sometimes people are challenged to hear their true voice, feel their true feelings or acknowledge their true actions. The more you are honest, the more you will feel God in your heart and see God in your life.
- Spread love. Through emulating God’s loving grace, you can more easily feel His presence in life. As it says in Jeremiah 31:2, “Hashem revealed Himself to me of old. Eternal love I conceived for you then; Therefore I continue My grace to you.” Place importance on other people’s needs, forgive offenses, encourage others rather than envy them and show compassion towards the pain of others.
- Choose to make God a priority. By starting your day recognizing that God is the One in charge, this creates a strong influence in feeling God’s presence. Start the day by thanking God for returning your soul. Ask God to grant a successful day. By preparing to see God throughout the day, you will see God throughout the day.
By controlling the daily influences in one’s life, choosing to connect to God through prayer, asking Him for wisdom and guidance, serving others and recognizing the blessings in your life, you will find your spiritual life and connection to God growing and expanding. And that’s a blessing.