Spending time with God or my delusions and imagination?

I want to spend time with God (“with Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament” and otherwise throughout the day), to talk to him, but whenever I go before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel that I’m answering my own questions. It seems to me dishonest for people to advertise prayer as “conversation with God” when God never talks back.

I once discussed the matter with a priest in Orlando, Florida, who replied, “Well, God isn’t going to talk to you. You know his will through the Scriptures and the Magisterium; he’s already said everything he needs to say, the final word being the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ.” He encouraged frequent reception of the Eucharist and reading of the Scriptures.

I intend to finish reading the article “Prayer” from the Original Catholic Encyclopedia (OCE); it seems to concur with what he was saying, that prayer changes us through the action itself, as one of the primary effects of and reasons for prayer. This strikes me as a strike against the existence of God, that it’s all self-hypnosis and self-convincing, i.e. “faith” is convincing yourself that a given delusion is true. (Thus one can switch religions – the worst act possible from those remaining in the religion – simply because he finds the latter religion “more convincing”.)

I would greatly appreciate your help. I want to have a relationship with God, but every time I pray I feel like I’m talking to myself, that God’s not really there. I try to avoid prayer precisely because it enhances the apparent reality that God is not there.

On a related topic, reflecting on the outcome of events “prayed about”, it all seems coincidental, that one might as well not have prayed, no difference made. But it seems we like to declare statistically improbable or scientifically-currently-unexplainable events as “miracles”, and so I would like to spend time learning about recent miracles. Do you know of any good books about the events at Fatima, particularly the Miracle of the Sun? (Is that not the most recent miracle the Church has proclaimed?) Would you share them with me?

God can speak with us, - even though public revelation has ceased, - because there is still private revelation. Many of the Saints (and others) have received private revelations - and they were not simply imagination because they actually saw Jesus and spoke to Him face to face. However, we shouldn’t seek this, because the enemy can disguise himself as “an angel of light”. If you receive a message from God, then submit it to the Church, and if not, then don’t worry, - it is not because God does not exist or loves you less.

It might help you to read something about Adoration and what we can do there, what it is for, etc… primarily it’s to spend time with Him and be changed and receive graces, - not necessarily to get our questions answered. We can’t “make” God speak. If you have a question, ask it, but leave the timing of the answer to God… don’t start examining your feelings or thoughts to see if you’re receiving an answer.

Try to just speak to Jesus… believe that He is there, TRUST HIM, make a Spiritual Communion (ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/blsac4.htm), tell Him whatever is on your mind… dont just speak though, allow time to just “be” with Him. Just be in His presence and love and trust Him, that is enough. If you don’t feel love or trust, then try your best to will it, and He will receive it. :slight_smile:

St Therese often felt nothing at Adoration, and she said… `

I desire no sensible consolation in loving; provided Jesus feel my love that is enough for me. Oh! to love Him and to make Him loved…how sweet it is…

Also it might help you to use Adoration to focus on how Jesus feels, rather than what the experience is like for you. It`s very easy to make our prayers centered on self and getting our questions answered. Have you ever done any prayers of reparation? One of the reasons Adoration is there is so that we can console Jesus as in the Garden of Gethsemane. He told the Apostles, “could you not watch one hour with Me?” and we spend an hour with Him in Adoration. Think of how it must be for Him there… He comes to us in the Eucharist out of love, because He gave His life for us and wants to be with us. But so few know or believe He is there, so few visit Him in the Tabernacle or during Adoration, and mostly He is forgotten in churches. All the sin in the world offends Christ but He comes to us anyway to show His mercy. Try to trust in Him and trust in His mercy and love while in Adoration…and if you simply feel love for Him, or feel loved, (or don’t feel anything yet will it), - then that is already a great grace. That is already God speaking to you, or something better than speaking, - helping you to follow Him better.

If you ever come across the book called “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Michael Gaitley, it might be helpful :slight_smile:

Here are some links I found about Adoration
2heartsnetwork.org/holyhour.htm
catholic-church.org/kuwait/eucharistic_adoration.htm
catholictradition.org/Classics/imitation4-1.htm#1
catholictradition.org/Classics/imitation4-3.htm#11

remember that the more we trust, the more graces we receive. This is what Jesus said to St Faustina.

God bless you :slight_smile:

Thanks for your post, it was very touching, but it raises as many questions as it answers.

The notion that God is perfect and infinite appears to contradict the notion that he can suffer (since suffering is a privation of being, or of goodness). So, logically, it seems to me only Jesus can suffer in his human nature; neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit can suffer. (But to say that Jesus has a human nature and a divine nature is meaningless to me, so I guess I’ll cease with this topic.)

But that raises the question, why would God “want” a relationship with us unless he did not already have it – but, being infinite, i.e. lacking nothing, he must already have it, hence we have a contradiction, do we not? That is, I think this contradiction is resolved in redefining “desire” – God must not desire things as we desire them. We desire things generally because they complete our being, i.e. it is something we do not have that we want. But God cannot desire anything that he doesn’t already have, since, being infinite, he lacks nothing that exists. So he must not “desire” a relationship with us in the same manner that we desire one with him.

Leaving that topic and turning to the issue of trust you mention: It seems to me that I cannot know that God loves me unless he tells me himself. I don’t see Jesus’ suffering as evidence that God loves me; it seems more like evidence that God enjoys suffering (thus suffering is everywhere in nature and God became man to experience it himself). Furthermore, I’m not even sure that I see Jesus suffering at all – I don’t know that the Gospels are historically accurate, and I don’t see any authority from the Church to assure me that they are historically accurate. So everything I know about God appears to be hearsay. It is consistent and usually most practical (more beneficial than anti-Christian doctrine), but it seems I cannot know any of it to be true.

What you need to do is pray for faith. I could throw theology at you left and right, but if your heart is hardened then none of it will do any good.

Ask God to give you faith - if there is a God, then He will give it (though you may have to be persistent - don’t just ask once and leave it at that). If there isn’t a God, then it won’t do anything.

Don’t you see the doublethink in the bold phrases there? If I pray for a while and then finally give it up, the atheist will conclude there is no God, the Christian concludes my heart is hardened. It just depends what you choose to believe (atheistic perspective) or what grace God has given you (Christian perspective).

One of the frustrations I have with trying to establish a relationship with God is that nothing is concrete or falsifiable. It seems to me the only way to know is to wait to die (and, if wrong, we’ll never know).

No … faith supplies the certainty. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s true. I didn’t understand it when I was an atheist, either.

And when I said “If there is no God (etc)” I didn’t mean to suggest that there is none or that I think maybe God doesn’t exist; I know He exists; it was more a way of saying, “You don’t have to worry that you will end up being deluded.”

Finally, if you pray for faith, God WILL give it to you. I have no doubt about that. “Ask and you shall receive.” But you do have to ask.

I understand what you are saying. This is a point that was brought up in that book I mentioned “Consoling the Heart of Jesus”. Jesus can indeed suffer in His human nature… this is a mystery. But He has let many Saints know that He does suffer for sin in the world. We can also console Him ‘retroactively’ in the Passion… so what we do now, can console Him back then when He was on the Cross or in the Garden.

the greatest attribute of God is His mercy… when He wants to show us mercy and love and we reject it through unrepentance, etc, - like the world does - or when people reject what Christ did for them on the Cross - it makes sense that this would grieve Him in a way. Even in the Bible it says “do not grieve the Holy Spirit”. God is perfectly happy in Heaven, and yet He can also be grieved… God is not like us, as I said it’s a mystery :slight_smile: but it’s something He’s revealed.

Here are His words to St Margaret Mary that are applicable to Adoration:

“Make reparation for the ingratitude of men. Spend an hour in prayer to appease divine justice, to implore mercy for sinners, to honor Me, to console Me for My bitter suffering when abandoned by My apostles, when they did not watch one hour with Me.”

But that raises the question, why would God “want” a relationship with us unless he did not already have it – but, being infinite, i.e. lacking nothing, he must already have it, hence we have a contradiction, do we not? That is, I think this contradiction is resolved in redefining “desire” – God must not desire things as we desire them. We desire things generally because they complete our being, i.e. it is something we do not have that we want. But God cannot desire anything that he doesn’t already have, since, being infinite, he lacks nothing that exists. So he must not “desire” a relationship with us in the same manner that we desire one with him.

CS Lewis has a good way of looking at this :slight_smile: it’s true as you say that God does not need anything, of His nature, He is complete and perfect. It is us who need Him. However, because of His love, it’s like He created a need or perhaps a want within Himself, for us. St Alphonsus Liguori said that love always wants union with the beloved, so God always wants union with us. I think this is shown in the Cross, because Jesus went to such great length to save us. Why did He do this? Why is He willing to show us mercy, when we choose to sin against Him? He doesn’t require anything in His nature but in His love, He wants to be in relationship with us, because He made us for this relationship. Simply put, it’s what we were created for. Of course when I say that God “desires” a relationship with us, I’m using human language, but I also don’t think that Christ is as impersonal as some people believe He is… in fact He is definitely not impersonal. His feelings go beyond emotions like we have and perhaps “feelings” isn’t a complete description, but we don’t really have words to describe God well. It’s the closest we can get.

Have you ever read the parable of the Prodigal Son? Remember how the father runs to the son when he comes back. It’s not like God accepts us because He has no need of us and we’re seeking Him from our own initiative. We seek Him because He is seeking us, otherwise we would not seek Him, because even wanting to be with God is a grace from Him. If you want to be with God, that’s because He gave you this grace. And we love Him because He loved us first. (says so in Scripture). God takes the initiative to find us… we respond… we seek Him in return, and He responds. That certainly shows that God cares to find us, that in fact He wants a relationship with us, as the father wanted the prodigal son to come back home. We call God our Father.

Leaving that topic and turning to the issue of trust you mention: It seems to me that I cannot know that God loves me unless he tells me himself. I don’t see Jesus’ suffering as evidence that God loves me; it seems more like evidence that God enjoys suffering (thus suffering is everywhere in nature and God became man to experience it himself).

I think that Christ’s suffering is actually the greatest evidence we have that He loves us, - even more so than His words, which are true and beautiful. Have you ever seen the Passion of the Christ? Even if you have not, meditate on the Passion and on the Garden of Gethsemane… it’s evident there that Christ did not enjoy suffering. He went through this often despite His human emotions (consider His prayer in the Garden) - because His love for us is deeper, it is in His will. Jesus even said, greater love no man has than to lay down his life for his friends.

But if this is something that you need to reflect on more, - here is Jesus telling you that He loves you. He gave messages to the Saints because not all of us are capable of hearing His voice as clearly yet, due to our sins. Also, so they could share this message with the whole Church. (and I’m sure for other reasons known only to God in His wisdom).

“I am Love! My Heart can no longer contain its devouring flames. I love souls so dearly that I have sacrificed My life for them. “It is this love that keeps Me a prisoner in the tabernacle. For nearly twenty centuries I have dwelt there, night and day, veiled under the species of Bread and concealed in the small white Host, bearing through love, neglect, solitude, contempt, blasphemies, outrages, sacrileges . . .

“For love of souls, I instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that I might forgive them, not once or twice, but as often as they need it to recover grace. There I wait for them, longing to wash away their sins, not in water, but in My Blood. How often in the course of the ages have I, in one way or another, made known My love for men: I have shown them how ardently I desire their salvation. I have revealed My Heart to them. This devotion has been as light cast over the whole earth, and today by its means those who labor to gain souls to My service have been enabled to do so.

“Now, I want something more, for if I long for love in response to My own, this is not the only return I desire from souls: I want them all to have confidence in My mercy, to expect all from My clemency, and never to doubt My readiness to forgive. I am God, but a God of love! I am a Father, but a Father full of compassion and never harsh. My Heart is infinitely holy but also infinitely wise, and knowing human frailty and infirmity, stoops to poor sinners with infinite mercy. I love those who after a first fall come to Me for pardon . . . I love them still more when they beg pardon for their second sin, and should this happen again, I do not say a million times but a million million times, I still love them and pardon them, and I will wash in My Blood their last as fully as their first sin. Never shall I weary of repentant sinners, nor cease from hoping for their return, and the greater their distress, the greater My welcome. Does not a father love a sick child with special affection? Are not his care and solicitude greater? So is the tenderness and compassion of My Heart more abundant for sinners than for the just. This is what I wish all to know. I will teach sinners that the mercy of My Heart is inexhaustible. Let the callous and indifferent know that My Heart is a fire which will enkindle them, because I love them." (to Sr Josefa Menendez)

Ultimately, no one will be able to convince you that God loves you, not even God, if you do not will to accept this yourself. But if you are having difficulties accepting it, I would examine the reasons why. For some people, it is fear. For others, it’s because they don’t want to repent or are afraid of getting closer to God cause they’ll have to give things up. For others, it’s distrust, or wanting evidence… but how much more evidence can God give, with respect to our free will? He wants us to choose Him freely. Even now He’s already given us much evidence. If you don’t want to accept it, no amount of evidence will ever convince you, even if Jesus stood before you and told you everything Himself. However if you are willing, ask for greater faith, and ask to be more willing to accept Him.

Furthermore, I’m not even sure that I see Jesus suffering at all – I don’t know that the Gospels are historically accurate, and I don’t see any authority from the Church to assure me that they are historically accurate. So everything I know about God appears to be hearsay. It is consistent and usually most practical (more beneficial than anti-Christian doctrine), but it seems I cannot know any of it to be true.

what do you mean you can not see Christ suffering? Wouldn’t you agree it would be incredibly painful to be nailed to a cross? In addition to knowing that the people you’re doing it for will hate and reject you, for the most part… and think of this, as Christ was being nailed to the cross by the soldiers, He was dying for them also, and He knew they are His creatures… the more a person loves, the more they suffer if the person they love rejects them. Consider what this means for Christ who loves infinitely. I think these truths, - that God loves us and that Christ died on the Cross for us - is something that we could only believe if we choose to believe it. It’s dangerous to entertain doubts… there is God but there is also the devil, and he knows our weaknesses and exploits them. If your weakness is doubt, then it’s important to seek faith all the more, through prayer and acts of faith, love, and repentance.

Here’s something that helped me to understand Christ’s suffering on the Cross. wordbytes.org/healing/HealingWounds/index.html

Regarding the Gospels and historical accuracy, - the Apostles would not have left everything to go and preach the Gospel in other countries and later died for their faith, if they had made it up. The Bible is actually more historically accurate than other (secular) books because there are way more early manuscripts, and the manuscripts were written relatively soon after the events. This was rare in the ancient world.

I think if everything was concrete, we would never learn to trust and love God, because we only learn these things when they are difficult to do. If everything was concrete, we wouldn’t grow in virtues such as faith, because they would not be necessary. But these virtues help to prepare our souls to be in union with God in eternity. If faith isn’t concrete, then it’s not meant to be, and it’s better this way. :slight_smile:

there are many things in our lives that we accept by faith… for example, we accept by faith that we’re actually alive and this isn’t just a dream, like in the Matrix. We assume many things. At least with our faith in God, there’s something that happened in the real world that supports it, and it’s not just something in our minds. But even when we feel it’s something in our minds… isn’t’ it God who gives us faith? I used to struggle a lot believing in God’s existence, but the more time you spend getting to know Him, the more obvious it becomes that He’s not just in your mind. Ultimately, it’s something only you can choose to believe though.

God bless

that’s a very good point, faith provides the certainty. In some sort of way, you just know that God is real. Faith provides us with a way to know God, not just about God, and it becomes obvious - over time - that He is there.

Interesting…

Have you ever thought God doesn’t talk back because he isn’t real?

Do you think that when someone gets sent to jail it’s because the judge just had a feeling?

No, so why do you base your faith upon some “bible”.

Here’s something else I came across :slight_smile:

These are words that Jesus Christ said in a vision to Sr Josefa Menendez, in the early 1900s.

"He explained to Josefa the different responses of mankind to God’s offer of love.

'Some have truly known Me, and urged by love, have ardently desired to make an entire sacrifice of themselves to My service, which is that of My Father. They begged to be told the greatest thing they could do for Him, and My Father answered thus: ‘Leave your home, give up your possessions, and having surrendered self, come, follow Me, and do whatever I tell you’.

Others, moved by all that the Son of God had done for their salvation, offered themselves to Him, endeavouring with good will to make a return for His goodness, by working for His interests, but without entire renunciation of their own. To these My Father says: ‘Observe the law which the Lord your God has given you. Keep His Commandments, and erring neither to right nor left, live in the peace which belongs to faithful servants.’

There are others again who have little understanding of God’s great love, yet they have an upright will and live under the law, but without love. These servants have not volunteered to carry out all God’s orders…yet a slight indication of His Will is often enough to enlist their service, since they are men of good will.

There are yet others who submit to their God, not so much through love as through self-interest, and only fulfill the law as far as is necessary to ensure their salvation.

Yet, do all men offer God their service? Are there any who through ignorance of the great love of which they are the object, make no response to all that the Son of God has suffered for them? Alas! …there are many who know and despise it… but a far greater number are entirely ignorant of it…’

For each of these Jesus Christ has a word of love:

'I will speak in the first place to those who do not know Me:

My sons, who from infancy have lived apart from your Father, come, I will tell you why you do not know Me… for once you realize the affection I bear you, you will not resist My love. It is often the case that those brought up far from their parents have little affection for them: but when by chance the sweet love of father or mother is manifested to them, there awakens a keener appreciation of this warm devotion than is found in those who have never left home.

To you, who not only do not love, but hate and persecute Me, I say: 'Why this hatred? … What have I done to deserve persecution at your hands? … There are many who have never asked themselves this question. Today when I ask it, they will perhaps say: ‘We do not know’. Behold, I will answer for you:

If from childhood you have never known Me, it is because no one has ever taught you about Me; and as you grew up, nature also was developing in you love of pleasure and enjoyment, a longing for wealth and freedom. Then came the day when you first heard of Me, and how to live according to My will; that to do so you must love and bear with your neighbour, respect his rights and his goods and gain a mastery of your own nature, in a word, live subject to a law. Hitherto, subject only to your own natural inclinations, if not to your passions, not knowing even of what law there was question, to you I say, is it to be wondered at that you should protest, should wish to enjoy life, to be free, and to be a law unto yourself?

In this lies the beginning of your hatred and persecution of Me. But I, your Father, love you, and even as I see your blind revolt, My Heart is filled with tenderness for you. So the years in which you led this life sped by, and they were, perhaps, many… Today I can no longer restrain My love for you, and the sight of you at war with your best friend compels Me to enlighten you as to who I am.
**
Dearly loved son, I am Jesus, which name signifies Saviour! why else are My hands transfixed with nails which fasten them to a cross? On it, for love of you, I died. My feet are wounded, My Heart wide open, riven by the lance after death… Thus do I stand before you that you may know who I am and what My law is. But do not fear - My law is one of love… and in knowing Me you will find peace and joy. It is sad to live as an orphan: come, My sons, come to your Father.’**
.

To the poster above me maybe he doesn’t manifest because he isn’t real…

when I was an agnostic, I never thought God speaks to anyone, because I never experienced this. It’s been several years since I became a Christian and during this time I can remember several instances where I know God was communicating something to me. It wasn’t like He was speaking to me in words, I didn’t hear a voice (though some people do), I just felt HIm there and knew He was pointing me towards something or giving me a grace. After this, it seems strange to me to think God isn’t real. It’s like saying that your family or friends aren’t real. You know they’re real because you know them… we can know God is real for the same reason, because we can know Him.

Do you think that when someone gets sent to jail it’s because the judge just had a feeling?

No, so why do you base your faith upon some “bible”.

I’m not sure why you’ve brought up the example of a jail, or the point you are trying to make ? sorry

btw what I believe is based on Scripture and Church teaching but the reason I believe these things is because through them I got to know God. It’s not like basing your faith in something written just because it’s there… God shows you it is real and gives faith.

who says He doesn’t manifest? I think I was saying the opposite :slight_smile:

if some people have never experienced God’s presence, that doesn’t mean He is not real, that means that either

  • they are not ready
  • it is not the best thing for them at the time, because God wants them to choose Him first, based on free will
  • perhaps other reasons

but it doesn’t disprove His existence, considering that there are many others who have experienced Him, and - more importantly - Christ isn’t just in our minds or experiences, He is a real Person, who lived 2000 years ago on earth. Our faith is related to a real historical event, not just to a feeling.

You asked a good question. Does God talk to us? God talks to his people all the time in the Scriptures. Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, if he talked to his people before, he definitely talks to us now and will continue to talk to us in the future. A relationship always involves two-way communication.

To hear God is not easy, but one does hear him. Years ago, my best friend always hears God clearly but I could not. I once asked my friend to pass some of my questions to God for me. But the message she received in her prayer was for me to ask God directly. God was not pleased with my intention of asking question through another person, God wants my own communication with him.

It takes time to practice hearing God in prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and he will. God does not speak in audible voice. It is the message and impression we receive in prayers, the still small voice. Sometimes we receive confirmation from our environment that what we heard was correct.

Keep on reading the Scriptures - God’s Word, practicing the presence of God , and always pray. All these will help you hear God. Our faith is a journey, keep on growing, and never be discouraged. May God bless you!

A mysterious being just talked to me and told me God isn’t real guess that means that this other mysterious being is real.

Sorry I just disproved God.

our relationship with God and experience of Him encourages us in our faith, but that’s not what our faith is based on. It helps but that’s not where faith comes from. Neither does it come from simply agreeing with a written text because it is there or because we were raised believing in it (btw I was raised agnostic).

Here’s something for the OP

conversiondiary.com/2008/04/finding-god-in-5-steps.html

youtube.com/watch?v=A-H7N6xLBiE&feature=player_embedded#!

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