Where do you go when you want to be with God? What helps you feel He is near?

There are numerous ways in which a Christian believer might feel connected with God in any given moment. A most important way is in reading and hearing God’s Word. Who God is and how He engages with his people is faithfully revealed through the holy scripture, and being able to take up and read the Bible is a beautiful and precious privilege. Learning who God is and how He moves in the lives of believers enables us to feel his nearness.

Prayer and biblical meditation are other very important ways in which we connect with God. We speak our hearts to God and sit in silence to listen for what God wants to say to us. It is holy back-and-forth conversation during which God is near.

Another principal way in which God meets with us is through community. Christian brothers and sisters, having received God’s love and truth, in turn carry that love and truth to others around them. As Christ’s image bearers, in loving each other and reminding each other of who God is, we are used by the Spirit to keep each other closely bound to God. He seems nearer.

Beyond these, how do you feel connected with God?

For me, a quiet walk in the woods is where I often sense God’s closeness. Being in nature, surrounded by a hushed creation, I become more aware of God’s company with me; the unspoiled landscape and slowed-down stillness cause me to notice his presence with me.

Now, let me say something very important: God does not suddenly become more present when I go for a walk in the woods. The only more-ness that ever takes place is that I become more aware of his presence. Bidden or unbidden, God is always present. He is never not near; it is merely the case that, most of the time, I am not slowing or quieting down enough to become aware of his nearness. When I pause to listen and look, unfailingly, He is always there.

Emmanuel, God is with us.

What do you do, or where do you go when you want to sense God’s nearness? When is the last time you paused for this practice? What invitations are you hearing to pull over and slow down so you might notice that God is all around you? In this season of Advent, amid your waiting, how is God revealing how near He already is to you?

Usually, St. Patrick’s Breastplate is shared on a particular day in March, but today, allow me to share a portion of this hymn to encourage you in the nearness of Christ:

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

—Attributed to Saint Patrick of Ireland


Rangeley, Maine, 2023