End Your Long-Distance Relationship with the Lord
As a priest, people often talk to me about their lives and their problems. Inevitably, I ask them how their relationship with God is. I can usually tell from their response if they have a long-distance relationship with the Lord. The language they use reveals that a deep, personal friendship with God is somewhat of a foreign concept. For example, they’ll say, “Well, I say my prayers at night before I go to bed,” or “I go to church,” or, my favorite, “I talk to the Big Guy in the sky; we’re tight.”
Great. Saying prayers at night and going to church is a wonderful way to deepen our relationship with God. But saying prayers at night and going to church does not necessarily mean that we have a deep, personal friendship with the Lord either. And as for “talking to the Big Guy in the sky,” that’s simply not Christian spirituality; it’s deism. In fact, therein lay the problem: too many people think God is “out there somewhere” rather than very close to them.
It may sound like I’m being judgmental; however, that is not my intention. Those of us who claim to have a relationship with the Lord most likely at one time had a long distance relationship with Him. I know I did; and, truth be told, there are some days that I still do. The point is that the Lord does not want us to think of Him as “out there somewhere.”
God is with us…
In the scriptures, Jesus is called Emmanuel (God is with us). God loves us so much that He became one of us in the Person of Jesus Christ. God became man to reconcile us with Himself. In Jesus Christ, we contemplate the face of God. In our prayer, as we gaze into the eyes of Jesus, we see the love and tenderness that the Lord has for us. Jesus lived, suffered, died, and rose for us. He’s alive, and because He’s alive we are able to have a personal relationship with Him. Not only did God become man in Christ, but He loves us so much that He continues to remain with us in the Holy Eucharist; for God is love, and love keeps on giving. What a grace!
…and within us
In Catholic theology we believe that through the sacrament of baptism the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) actually comes to dwell in our souls; He makes His home in us. We possess divine life in our souls (so long as we live in the state of grace and do not forfeit His divine life through serious sin). The Lord is not “out there”; He’s “in here.” This is what we traditionally call the Indwelling of the Trinity.
Many saints and mystics possessed such a deep awareness of the indwelling Trinity that their lives literally became immersed in God; it became a lived experience for them (St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross wrote beautifully about this experience). What a beautiful grace: to be so deeply aware of God’s presence that we become immersed in Him; for, to be immersed in God is to be immersed in love. And don’t we all desire to be immersed in love?
What difference would it make in your relationship with the Lord if you realized that He dwells in you? Would it help you enter into deeper conversation with Him? Would it change how you see and treat others? Would it change how you see and treat yourself?
Yes, God is with us (Emmanuel). He’s not far away. Having a friendship with Him is possible, and it begins by being deeply aware of His presence in our souls and entering into that presence every day.
But how do we do this? First and foremost we must remember that prayer is about a relationship, a friendship, with a Person. He wants to be in a relationship with us. He’s not a million miles away. God, the Creator of the universe, the One who saves and redeems us, dwells within our souls. We need to ponder this amazing reality!
If you feel that you currently have a long-distance relationship with the Lord, here are some suggestions for your prayer so that you can begin to draw closer to Him:
- When you pray, close your eyes and try to become deeply aware of the Lord’s presence in your soul. Realize that He loves you so much that He has come to make His home in you. Simply sit in silence and know that the Holy Trinity desires to embrace you in love and enter into a deep friendship with you. You don’t need to say any words in your prayer. Just dwell with God and know that He gazes upon you in love.
- See yourself in the place of John, the Beloved Disciple, at the Last Supper (John 13:23-25). See yourself resting your head on Jesus’ chest and listening to His heartbeat for you. This may seem strange or uncomfortable if you’ve never prayed like this before; but, remember, Jesus wants you to know that He is alive, a real divine person with whom you can share the deepest friendship. In your prayer, rest in the Lord. Don’t be afraid to get close to Him.
- Carve out some quiet time in your day to take a walk with the Lord. Ask Him to make His presence known to you in a very deep way. Tell Him that you don’t want to have a long distance relationship with Him; rather, you want to be very close to Him.
Yes, God is with us!
Previously published on Father Najim’s his former blog. Used with permission.
Art: The Helix Nebula from Blanco and Hubble, 2014 October 12, NASA, Public Domain. Partial restoration detail of Vision of the Holy Trinity [with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila], anonymous Brazilian painter, 17th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; detail from Ultima Cena (Last Supper) at former San Simpliciano Cloisters currently holding the Faculty of Theology, artist unknown, Giovanni Dall’Orto photographer, 25-3-2007, PD-anyone for any purpose; modified detail of Adam and the God from the tapestry Paradise Bliss, Jan de Kempeneer after Michael Coxie, circa 1550, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; all three Wikimedia Commons.