What to do when you feel bored with God

Bored with God

Do you feel bored with God?

The kind of feeling that keeps you from prayer. That when you look at your Bible, you don’t have enough energy to pick it up and read it. That makes you look for reasons not to go to church on Sunday morning.

Not that God himself is boring—of course not! How can the Creator, the Sustainer, the Provider, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be boring? The truth is that nothing and no one is more interesting than God–but only when we get to know him as he truly is. He’s in fact the source of all in life that is interesting. That’s what the Psalmist has in mind when he says,

Singers and dancers alike say, ‘All my fresh springs are in you.’ (Psalm 87:7)

Despite our best intentions, though, we all know those times or seasons when we’d rather give attention to anything or anyone else than God. There are many reasons why. Spiritual immaturity, family crises, schedules that get too busy, unconfessed sin, personal crises—the list is as long as it is familiar. None of us (even pastors) is exempt from life’s demands or the whims of our fallen human nature.

Writer Tony Reinke points out that boredom with God sometimes comes when we lose sight of his beauty. I think he’ s on to something with that. Ginger Kolbaba says our problem is that while God is always there for us, there are many times when we don’t bother to show up in the realtionship.

But a more common reason may have to do with the nature of relationships in general. The fact is that we get bored with God when we don’t know him as he really is.

I thought through all this earlier today as I was reading the Psalms—a book that has more to say about the inner workings of the soul than any other. What caught my attention was how two consecutive Psalms portray God in radically different ways that in turn call for what seem to be two startingly different responses. So much so that a casual reader could wonder if they were describing the same God. What the two Psalms really do is to give a straightforward—even if uncomfortable—answer to the question. We get bored with God when we don’t know him as he really is. The first one, Psalm 99, opens with,

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! (Psalm 99:1)

Psalm 100 then follows with,

Make a joyful noise all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:1-2)

Fear and joy. Trembling and singing. What the two Psalms tell us is that God judges but also comforts and his true worship joins fear and joy in equal measure. We get bored with God when our relationship with him isn’t based on who he really is.

That doesn’t mean that God is contradictory and the people who know him are spiritual schizophrenics. It means that God’s nature is rich and deep beyond our comprehension and to authentically relate to him requires that we be courageous enough to accept him as he truly is.

Why should that be surprising? The same principle is true of human relationships. For example, if a married couple of any age wants to enrich their relationship, they must risk opening their hearts to one another and journey past barriers of fear, expectations, judgment and past experience and into a landscape of hope. Another example is friendship. Our closest friends tend to be those people who know us best, warts and all, and accept us anyway. Just as we do them. Friendships that don’t go that deep may interest us for a time but don’t generally last.

We grow weary with our relationship with God when we don’t know him as he really is. When we settle for a caricature created from our own imagination, our family, our education, our surrounding culture or even our church instead of the real God. The Bible calls that sort of thing idolatry, which is a sin. But maybe worse, idolatry is boring. Why would anyone waste time, energy or resources loving something that can’t love you back?

Our prayer life is especially affected by a superficial relationship with God. How can we expect answers to our prayers when they’re lifted up to a cartoon God instead of the real One? Here’s a previous blog on how authentic prayer emerges from an authentic relationship with God.

Later on, the book of Psalms is even more blunt about the difference between our idols and the real God:

Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:2-8 )

Like in any other relationship, when we settle for shallow experiences and back off from getting to know the real person then we lost interest. Marriages grow stale. Friends drift away. And we get bored with God.

In C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” eight-year-old Susan talks with Mr. Beaver about Aslan, the lion (and Christ figure) who rules Narnia. Alarmed by the risk of a lion in authority instead of a man, she says, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” Mr. Beaver responds, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

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