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Presence of God

NewEnglandMan

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Hello Every one,

I've been a religious seeker for much of my life now and the overwhelming question is (for me) how can I be in a relationship with God before I die? Sometimes people speak about experiencing the "presence of God" in Christianity. After years of prayers and tears I feel like I've been washed up on the beach of life realizing the effort did not pay off. I still feel like I'm talking to a brick wall.

For me, personally, not feeling God's presence is a painful feeling of not being close to the most important person in all of our lives. I think I'm interested in Orthodoxy in part because Theosis seems to actually happen in the Orthodox Church.

I guess I'm looking for a little encouragement,  have any of you ever met a living saint before?

 

PorphyriosK

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The Fathers teach that the main reason for not feeling God's presence or His grace is attachment to worldly things, to our pride and ego, to sensuality, etc.  Thus asceticism is necessary to remove the things that blind us to God's presence.  It's not He that is hiding from us, but we from Him when we let other interests compete equally with Him or create false idols that replace Him (we can even do this unknowingly at times). 

Also I believe that the Orthodox Church and the tradition of the Eastern Fathers do indeed provide more clear and practical guidance and instruction for seekers, which helps create an actual way of life to follow that is shared in union with the whole Church.  Following the Church calendar of fasting, the prescribed daily prayers, and entering into the Liturgical life can actually begin to change you as they all form you in the correct worship and belief.  How you pray dictates how you believe and vice versa.

 

WPM

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See about the Church Fathers and Ascetics talking about Ascetics and Theosis (In the Eastern vs Western) Traditions.

Some traditions are Western and some Eastern. (We don't know) . . .

Try reading English to Russian "Philokalia" and You should learn to say your Prayers.

You also should learn to take Holy Communion (The Sacrament.)
 

hecma925

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have any of you ever met a living saint before?
No, but I have met people living a holy life.
 

isxodnik

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Once upon a time, in ninety shaggy year, we went to the Seraphim-Diveevsky monastery. There prayed in front of the shrines, took communion, and then there was a free/random program, and I went to the bus. On the way, a new state descended upon me. Very roughly and approximately it can be described as very easy peace, light, joy - but in fact there are no terms for it in human language. When I was sitting in the bus and wondered, the hieromonk, the head of our group, came in and I shared with him what was happening. He said that it is usual for priests after the Liturgy (as time has shown, not always). In the course of this short conversation, I noticed that this state is weakening, going away. I tried to hold it, to grasp it, but it was useless, it was gone.

The Lord gives his grace solely by his mercy and by his will, when, to whom and how he wants. Our God is a Jealous God, and demands undivided attention. The expectation, the desire for States of grace is immodesty, the result of a wrong view of oneself.

Many years have passed, and by justice the earth should have parted long ago, and hell should have swallowed me up, but even now I sometimes see the mercy of God in people and events.

The Holy fathers commanded us the fear of God, or walking before God, or sobriety. "I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved." (Ps. 15:8 ) This is a natural consequence of God's omnipresence and omniscience. It, like the memory of death, distracts from the earthly and directs to the heavenly. In contrast to the direct States of grace, sobriety is available to every Christian and is expected of him.

They also teach to see Christ in every man, for every man is the image of God, though damaged. And if you see Christ in every neighbor/fellow man - where does God's abandonment come here?

Nevertheless, the state of God-abandonment/forsaken is an obligatory part of Christian life. "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"- even the Savior not bypassed his. It takes loyalty and courage. Perhaps its purpose is to snatch the attention of man from himself, from his self, from worldly passions and lusts, and to direct it to God. Force make choose.

As for the Holy people - I don't know, but I suggest to look at these links:
https://youtu.be/Y791px8bcBw
https://youtu.be/ahUYRBUVwOs
 

WPM

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I believe that we should follow the Pope of Rome, of Blessed Peter, Head and Crown Prince of the Apostles. ~ :)
 

NicholasMyra

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NewEnglandMan said:
I've been a religious seeker for much of my life now and the overwhelming question is (for me) how can I be in a relationship with God before I die? Sometimes people speak about experiencing the "presence of God" in Christianity. After years of prayers and tears I feel like I've been washed up on the beach of life realizing the effort did not pay off. I still feel like I'm talking to a brick wall.
If you're interested, there is a little experiment you can do that may help you, or at least provide you with insight.
 

WPM

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Yes, this is Believing To Faith to Trust.

 

LizaSymonenko

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We need to nurture that relationship with God. 

He is present every minute... however, if we don't find time in our days for him, he seems distant.

Focus more on having a peaceful environment and focus on prayer and reading Scripture.  The more you learn, the more you want to learn... and the more you understand... and grow to love our God.

Try reading each day's Scriptures.

I pray that the Lord reveals Himself to you... and that you notice His presence.
 

Ainnir

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Feeling His Presence comes and goes.  He said “Be still and know,” not “Be still and feel.”  I won’t take credit for that one.  It‘s helped me, though.  As Liza said, pray.  Every day, just something short, resisting the feeling that it’s “not enough.”  The Trisagion and the Our Father is a solid start.  Read the daily Scriptures, and remain faithful in that.  Then go about your day as much the way God desires as you can (being kind, honest, etc.).  And trust.  He is right here—closer than most of us are comfortable with, really.  Trust that He is here, and live life.  Work up from there.  Find a priest to help you, and know yourself well.
 

rakovsky

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NicholasMyra said:
NewEnglandMan said:
I've been a religious seeker for much of my life now and the overwhelming question is (for me) how can I be in a relationship with God before I die? Sometimes people speak about experiencing the "presence of God" in Christianity. After years of prayers and tears I feel like I've been washed up on the beach of life realizing the effort did not pay off. I still feel like I'm talking to a brick wall.
If you're interested, there is a little experiment you can do that may help you, or at least provide you with insight.
What's that?
 

Sethrak

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NewEnglandMan ~ You do feel the the presents of the Lord ~ but sometimes you are not sure ~ Or you have never felt His presents ???

Some times a prayer doesn't get it and I just talk to Him ~ like I'd talk to my father ~ sometimes I talk with both ~ you know when working on something ~ a car ~ Daddy was a mechanic too ~ he helps me a lot with something difficult ~ the more you talk with the Lord the more you can feel his being there ~ you know that I'm sure~ there have been times when I've doubted ~ it's embarrassing ~ having a moment of doubt and My Lord seeing this ~ Oh look ~ jabbered a paragraph ~ if we were talking over a cupa ~ I might say it very differently ~ God love you brother ~ have a good week ```




seth
 

David Garner

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NewEnglandMan said:
Hello Every one,

I've been a religious seeker for much of my life now and the overwhelming question is (for me) how can I be in a relationship with God before I die? Sometimes people speak about experiencing the "presence of God" in Christianity. After years of prayers and tears I feel like I've been washed up on the beach of life realizing the effort did not pay off. I still feel like I'm talking to a brick wall.

For me, personally, not feeling God's presence is a painful feeling of not being close to the most important person in all of our lives. I think I'm interested in Orthodoxy in part because Theosis seems to actually happen in the Orthodox Church.

I guess I'm looking for a little encouragement,  have any of you ever met a living saint before?
Read Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky.  The basics are these: 

1)  God is unknowable.  You cannot approach Him in His essence.  He is beyond being, beyond existence.  He is utter darkness to sinners.  We cannot describe what He truly, essentially is, only what He is not.

2)  God may nonetheless be known in His interactions with us.  Approaching Him, thus, means approaching His energies.

3)  This is done through the ascetic life, and through the Sacraments of the Church.  It is not easy or instantaneous.  We put away food, sensual pleasure, wealth, etc., and we focus our lives in prayer, contemplation and reception of God's mysteries.  “By means of action . . . man may attain finally to a state of impassability . . . to the freedom of his nature no longer subject to passions, or affected by anything.”  (Lossky, 203).

4)  All of this is to say, to encounter God -- to know God -- is not to merely converse with Him, it is to find true union with Him.

This is very, very basic -- the book certainly explains it far better than I have.
 

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This is somehow a difficult question because extatic states do not always come from God. I've learnt that Orthodoxy is not about pleasant or exotic feelings (although it is something absolutely out-of-this-world to take part in the evening vespers and morning Liturgy).

But I was surprised to learn that - I know it sounds crazy - that you can experience the presence of God even when you think He is not there. Even if you feel a big, black hole in your soul or in you life, when you're Orthodox and practicing (praying, fasting, attending Liturgies, partaking in  the Holy Eucharist) - then you know God is with you. It is like knowing that the loved person is in the other room - even when you do not hear that person, you know he or she is there.

It is the same with not feeling the presence of God. If you're a practicing Orthodox, even when you feel abandoned and void - you'll get comforted somehow. If you are far from God - then loneliness and emptiness is total and all-consuming.

But you need to make the effort, to make that first step - to pray, to help your neighbour, to try to be a better person, to fight against your passions and bad habbits. To get a sun-tan you need to go outside and face the sun. You'll not get a sun-tan by sitting in the darknes.
 
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For me the presence of God is trying to live by His commandments. I know I will have much to answer for at the judgment as to if I truly trusted in the Lord who overcomes the tribulation in this world ( John 16:33 (.
 

isxodnik

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You should be careful with Lossky.

The influence of Vladimir Nikolaevich Lossky's ideas on modern Orthodox theology is enormous. And this influence seems to many to be healing, for the teaching of Lossky is perceived in the direction of the movement, the direction of which was determined by prot. George Florovsky: "forward to the fathers". Accordingly, those of his ideas that are, unfortunately, in conflict with the patristic teaching, require the most detailed and careful consideration...
There are also tougher expressions.

The scientist from theology is choked with delight by Lossky and Meyendorff only because there is no living word of God and the Holy fathers left, but everything is filled with infinitely sweet gnoseological reflexes for his soul that has pupated into phantasms.
 

isxodnik

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also

That's really Lossky to the Tradition does not apply. He cannot be called a heretic, but some parts of his teaching (for example, the doctrine of the Church:the pneumatological and Christological "aspects") are non-Orthodox.
 
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