This is a post for anyone out there who is wondering how to find God.
Pray “God I want to meet you and long to hear your voice, reveal yourself to me and give me faith” every day at least once, when I was going through a teenage agnostic phase I prayed that dozens of times every day. To say this prayer, especially aloud, is a good act of faith and all acts of faith, however small, gradually build up till suddenly one day you will realise you do believe in God.
It is not hypocritical to pray when you think you don’t yet believe in God. (of course part of you does believe in God otherwise you wouldn’t be praying at all) Act as if you have faith and faith will be given you, or fake it till you make it, or more accurately; show a little bit of faith and more will be given to you, remember faith is a gift from God, sitting in a Church pew and gurning in concentration will not give you faith. Just give God the opportunity to give you faith and faith will sneak up on you like a ninja. God does the impossible with insufficient means.
Praying for faith shows God you want to believe in him, do that and God takes notice and eventually your prayer will be granted. When it is granted it will be as clear as day, you will not be given any room to think you have deluded yourself, so do not fear. I’m not sure anyone would be Catholic unless they had at least one clear moment of divine intervention.
There is a big hoo-ha in atheist circles about people who are hypocritical about religion, hypocrisy is the last taboo in modern society. The thing is, they don’t understand that religious life is about trying and perservering especially in the face of not feeling like you are getting anywhere, or that you should even be in Church at all, it is even about persevering in the face of personal sin.
We are sinners in need of God, admit that and be happy, you are in the good and numerous company of all the saints, except Mary of course, who was without sin 🙂 Besides humans are naturally hypocritical, its called original sin, so why not join the rest of the hypocrites in Church?
Praying aloud helps us to make our prayers tangible, they become very definitely real, whereas prayers in the mind can sometimes feel as if they are merely a mental exercise. I know it can seem silly talking to yourself in your room, but you are not talking to yourself so it is OK.
What is prayer? just thinking, either aloud or in your head, directed towards God. If you don’t know who God is, then think towards the sky, it is the best natural way as a human to orientate oneself to the spiritual realm not of this world, even Jesus did it. I’m not saying that God lives on a cloud, just that it is sometimes helpful to pretend that he does.
Go to Sunday Mass, whether you ‘feel it’ or not. For years after converting every Sunday the devil would try to tempt me with all sorts of reasons for not going to Mass, ranging from “you are not worthy” to “God doesn’t love you, stay at home and do what you want!” You will have to recognise this voice for what it is and be determined no matter what to ignore it.
Is it really so much to ask that you set aside an hour and a half a week to God? the existence of God is of such infinite importance, so no, it is the bare minimum and is really not a great deal to ask, though of course the devil will tell you otherwise. Think like an athlete, they get up early in the morning to practice, do they think, “oh joy, I love training” every morning? no they don’t. If people can do this in the name of sport then it is certainly not too much to expect people should do this in the name of God.
Pray the Lords prayer daily: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. This is the prayer Jesus gave as an example of how we should pray, basically speaking its virtually impossible to go wrong with it.
Have five minutes of silent prayer a day (that is not even trying to pray to God, just sitting in silence and try to listen to him), tricky that one but worth it. I’m not very good at it but if you can manage it then you will be well on your way. Try saying to yourself “I’m going to pray in silence now” then try to do it, a bit of mental reinforcement probably helps. As disruptions crop up, which they certainly will when entering silence, deal with them by praying about them, and then return to trying to listen to God.
Pray for at least five minutes a day, start with intercessory prayer if you are struggling for things to say that are good or with the very concept of how to pray. It is always good to wish good for others, and less easy to go wrong than when you are asking for things for yourself, which can become selfish.
Go on a walking pilgrimage with good Catholics. Physically walking, traveling to a new place, placing yourself in a distinctly new and changing environment opens the spirit to new experiences. Doing this in search of God will open yourself up to God in a way that sitting on the sofa watching the x-factor or what ever other tripe is on telebox will not.
I am of the opinion that man could go on pilgrimage to the moon and still find him there, oh wait that is exactly what did happen, one of the first things Buzz Aldrin did on the moon was take communion (even if he was a Presbyterian) It is the act of being on pilgrimage that finds God. Of course go to a good Catholic pilgrimage site regardless so you know what you are walking towards is God.
Go to a monastery and stay for at least a week attending the offices of the day. It takes at least three days for the mind to stop firing static so you can begin to enter into silence and potentially hear the voice of God. Stick at it, going for a weekend is good but you won’t enter into silence in that amount of time.
Be warned, stopping and embracing silence will be a strange and quite emotional experience, expect mood swings and parts of your subconscious good and bad, that you didn’t know you had to come a knocking… deal with these internally one by one, don’t try to ignore them because they will only become more insistent… Monks spend their entire lives practicing silence and I don’t think it is ever easy, but they do get great spiritual reward from it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Try to abstain from all things that you know are against the will of God. We are all sinners, and sin is the only thing that stops us from hearing God as clear as day.
Don’t pack it in if you do sin either, that is what the devil will tempt you with the second you stumble, him having five minutes before been telling you its not that bad really, as soon as you have done it he will be telling you, you are terrible just like him, you are worthless and God doesn’t love you. God always loves you, always, for ever and ever. Keep that in mind.
The Church teaches infallibly on questions of morality, so if in doubt, ask the Church either by reading up yourself or asking a good priest. God always wants the best for his flock, and always wants them to be joyful, God is not a party pooper, or a misery guts. Gods moral law is for our good, not his. Keep that in mind if this seems silly or difficult… don’t worry it will always seem difficult even after years of being a Christian and knowing 100% that God exists and wants the best for us.
Keep good Catholic company, hard to find I know, but pick people who are trying their hardest, that should hopefully make avoiding sin easier. No Christian is perfect, if we were we wouldn’t need Christ. I can only vouch unreservedly for Catholicism as a religion, it has the best theological and moral foundations and is philosophically sound, it will not slip out from under your feet.
Try reading about Christianity, there are plenty of good apologetic works out there to get your teeth stuck into in order to deal with every possible theological and philosophical question. I’m not going to go through the questions now because there are so many of them, but I can vouch that for every question there is a very reasonable answer otherwise I would not be Catholic myself.
Do also remember that Christianity isn’t just an intellectual exercise, there are intellectual barriers to the faith which will need to be overcome. You will not be able to find answers to all the questions all at once however, deal with them one at a time…
This is the problem of doubt, not the specific doubts themselves (which are good and natural, questioning the faith will eventually lead to answers), but the feeling of being overwhelmed by many doubts together… single doubts are often fairly easily dealt with if they are separated off from the nebulous morass of doubt and examined calmly and with an open mind in reference to sound Catholic teaching and logic.
As you deal with doubts one by one, just acknowledge that the rest of the doubts are there, and leave them be, live with them till you get round to tackling them individually. Don’t worry, none are insurmountable. Also Catholic theology is systematic, everything relates to everything else, as you begin to deal with doubts one at a time you will find the answers to one doubt will provide an intellectual avenue of attack for a different doubt.
Finally persistence is the key. Knock and the door will be opened onto you. So keep knocking. Rome wasn’t built in a day, don’t just pack it in after a week. If you don’t you can’t honestly say to yourself you have searched for God, and if you can’t say that why are you surprised that God hasn’t spoken to you? God wants to be with people who actively want to be with him. Otherwise God gives people a wide berth, it is about free will.
There you are, if you are wondering how to find God, try these things, there are probably other good things to do, but keep this up for a good period of time, say about a year, and if it doesn’t work then fair enough, you can say you tried and God didn’t show and at the last judgment you will be vindicated whereas people who knew God existed but did nothing about it will not.
But I 100% guarantee that it will work and if not I will eat my hat. Seek and ye shall find, God has promised us that!