As awesome and intimidating as this may seem, it’s really not all that difficult to enter into the presence of the Lord and experience his love. On the contrary, Jesus longs for us come to him.
He actually enjoys being with us and delights in pouring his love upon us—even more than we long to receive it! Whatever roadblocks exist are generally related to our own sin, our own lack of repentance, or our own complacency.
Of course, it is possible to experience God’s presence without putting in any effort at all. After all, that’s what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4). But it is far more common to be touched by God when we are in prayer. That’s what happened to Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1-6), to Zechariah (Luke 1:8-11), and to Peter, James, and John (9:28-29). So let’s take a closer look at prayer and ask how we can become more open to God’s touch in our lives.
Passionately seek him. Because of the demands of everyday life, it can be very easy for our faith to become too regimented. Like the Colossians, we can fall into legalisms and lose sight of faith’s primary goal: to ground us in a loving experience of Jesus. If you feel that your prayer has become somewhat mechanical or dry, go before the Lord and say, “Jesus, I want to know you. Come shower me with your love. Transform my life into whatever you desire. I am yours.” The truth is, we all need to cry out to the Lord like this every day— throughout our days, but especially when we are in prayer.
Distractions. Another way to make ourselves receptive to the Lord is by saying “no” to the distractions that swirl around us. Let’s face it, for most of us, prayer is often hindered by a racing mind. It is impossible to be in the Spirit and also to be dominated by all the things we have to do in the course of our day. But God wants to help us fix our hearts on him and not on our tasks, chores, and responsibilities. He wants us to play our part in fighting off these distractions.
Perhaps we can start praying with a friend or our spouse. Maybe we can introduce music into our prayer to help us focus our hearts. Or maybe we should wake up a little earlier and retreat to a quiet place to be with the Lord. No matter how you deal with distractions, rest assured that Jesus is playing his part, helping you to stay focused on him. And when you do begin to stray, don’t get discouraged. Gently try to focus yourself again. Over time, you will build up the discipline of openness in prayer that will yield amazing results.
Repentance. Sin clogs us up just like mud can clog a drain. We can’t expect to come into God’s presence if sin is in the way. So make it a point to examine your conscience at the end of every day. Repent for any sins you may have committed and ask for the grace to do better. Try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as possible. Remember that repentance brings us into contact with God’s mercy, and that mercy has the power to soften our hearts and open us up to a love that never fails.
Jesus once said, “I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3:20). Go ahead. Answer the door. Your life will be forever changed.