“Ask a Priest: How Do I Connect With God?”

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Q: I am not sure how to have a relationship with God. How do I know it is God communicating to me? Why doesn’t God manifest himself to everyone in the world for all of us to see? –B.R.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You raise big questions. God manifests himself to us all the time. It’s just that we fail to notice his hand at work.

Let me explain. God the Father sent his Son into the world to reveal his perfect plan for us. Thus Jesus is the height of Revelation. And we find him in the Gospels and in the Eucharist.

God also manifests himself in the beauty of the created world. Everything around us that is good is created by God. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the people we love — all were created by God. All are signs of his providential care for us.

Then there is our conscience, that inner voice that tells us to do good and avoid evil. That can be God’s way of communicating with us. (Conscience has to be well informed, but that is another issue.) Suffice it to say that we can be sure it is God communicating with us when we feel inspired to do something objectively good.

Lastly, you can simply look in the mirror. Where were you 100 years ago? You didn’t exist. I didn’t exist. Now we are here. God created us. And with the eyes of faith we can see his gifts all around us: our faith itself, our family, our health, our intelligence

But your question remains. Why doesn’t God show himself more obviously? A proper answer would require a book-length answer. Suffice it to say that God leaves just enough room for mystery to allow us space to make an act of faith in him.

God doesn’t want us to be robots, programmed to follow him. Rather, he created us to enter into a relationship with him, a friendship. And since he wants us as his friends, he doesn’t force himself on us. Rather he invites us, gently and respectfully. To accept that invitation is to make an act of faith.

Besides, if we could “prove” God’s existence, then we wouldn’t need faith. On the other hand, though, he gives us enough evidence for us to have a reasonable basis for believing in him and in his providence.

The best things in life tend not to be scientifically provable. Think of a mother’s love, or the love between a husband and wife. Things like that can’t be measured, but we know they are real. And without them life would be barren.

Perhaps it would help to pray to the Holy Spirit so that he can enlighten you about how close God is to you.

Helpful too would be to make time for prayer and a bit of Scripture reading each day. Two companion books that might help are Father John Bartunek’s The Better Part and Father Thomas Green’s Opening to God.

Include acts of charity, and you will provide fertile ground for God to communicate amply in your soul.

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