We all want a closer connection to God, to feel His presence in our lives. Sometimes we feel this closeness, other times not. How can we ignite our passion, yearning and closeness to God?
This topic is explored further in, “We All Go Through Spiritual Winters. What to Do During Yours.” Here we break it down to a daily routine of 3 steps that can be done in as little as 20 minutes a day. Spending an hour or more is optimal, but at least 20 minutes a day. Pick a set time and make it part of your daily routine. It is not all or nothing; do the best you can.
While this program involves just 3 steps, there are many aspects of Judaism not covered here. Each aspect and observance fortifies our connection with our Creator and fulfills His will for us.
Try this program for at least 30 days. Afterwards, assess what is working and which area you want to strengthen.
3 Steps to a Closer Connection to God:
1. Study inspirational works daily. Whether listening to a podcast, class, or reading an article or book, find an area of the Torah that you find inspiring. There are many areas to choose from. Keep searching until you find the area that currently speaks to you. Many find Chassidic works to be particularly inspiring. A current favorite is A Bit More Advice available with free shipping here. For a weekly email or daily chassidic thought through whatsApp by LPI Torah, click here. See also, “Mining the Depths of Torah Wisdom.”
2. Recite Psalms daily. Aim to read at least one Psalm a day (or a portion of longer ones). You can also read the monthly cycle of Psalms. Another option is to read the Psalms which make up Rebbe Nachman’s Tikkun Haklali (16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, and 150) which many find particularly purifying. Read Psalms with a translation you understand and say it with intention. Use the skills you acquire reciting Psalms soulfully to say other prayers with similar intention. There are a number of excellent translations of Psalms available. One is Psalms that Speak to You by Yitzchok Leib Bell (it is available in either interlinear or traditional translation editions). Before reciting Psalms, you may find it helpful to sing a soulful melody or listen to one to get into the right mindset. A popular choice are the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach. See also, “How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Prayer.”
3. Speak to God daily. Have a set time you talk to God. Thank Him for His blessings, share with Him your concerns and ask for His help. Ask Him to bring you closer to Him and to fulfilling your potential to do His will. In addition, think about God throughout the day. Tune into the fact that His presence fills the entire universe and that He is with you at all times. Think about how God is guiding and strengthening you, that all the blessings in your life come from Him and that even your challenges are from Him for your ultimate good.
(Please note: While reciting Psalms and speaking to God in your native language are not obligatory, unlike Torah study and formal prayer, they still can be very helpful to deepen our relationship with our Creator.)
Divide your daily routine in whatever way works for you. To start, one option is 10 minutes of Torah learning, 5 minutes of reciting Psalms and 5 minutes of talking to God and build from there. You may find it helpful to schedule daily recurring reminders for these three practices using Google Keep, Evernote or a different system. After doing the above three steps for a few weeks, deepen the practice by exploring this topic further here.
Each day is a new beginning. Even if yesterday you did none of these practices, begin your day with at least one practice and take the first step along the path to closeness to God.
Do this routine everyday, even when you do not feel like it. While these practices can enhance our feeling of closeness to God, our relationship with Him cannot be based on feelings. God is our Creator and Father in Heaven, whether we feel it or not. We cannot live without God’s constant help, whether we realize that or not. It is especially important during times when we feel distant from God to strengthen ourselves in the above 3 steps. This will help us move through a spiritual winter to a spiritual spring and renewal.
A feeling of inspiration and closeness to God is a gift from Him and one we cannot force. These 3 steps help us create a vessel. God, at the right time, fills that vessel with a feeling of His presence in our lives. Be tenacious in doing these 3 steps every day, creating a stronger and stronger vessel to receive the Divine gift of closeness to God.
In memory of Yosef Yoel ben Avraham Yitzhak HaLevi ve Chaya Sarah