Finding God in 5 Steps

I occasionally get emails that say something like this:

I’m what you could call “agnostic.” I’m open to the possibility that God might exist. I’ve even been sort of seeking and have tried praying, but nothing has happened. I’m not any closer to believing in God than I was before, which I take to mean that either God doesn’t exist or doesn’t care if I know him.

I’m about to give up and just forget about it. I saw in your archives that you were in a similar place a few years ago and wanted to know if you have any advice before I stop what has so far been a futile search for God.

I know exactly how it feels to be in this situation. While it’s important to understand that any kind of powerful experiences of God are a gift, that there’s not some magic formula we can follow that will guarantee that we’ll hear the voice of God or have a major religious experience, there are certain things we can do to make more room in our hearts for God’s presence.

Based on lots of reading, advice from trusted friends, and plenty of personal experience of doing it the wrong way, I do have a few tips that might help anyone who feels like their search for God isn’t going anywhere. For brevity I titled the post Finding God in 5 Steps, although a more accurate title would be, 5 Things I Learned the Hard Way That I Believe Fostered the Right Disposition for Gaining a Better Understanding of God but Since I’m Just Some Fool With an Internet Connection and Not a Pastor or a Theologian You Should Take This and Everything Else I Write With a Big Grain of Salt. So here it goes:

1. Seek humility first

If you feel stuck in your spiritual search, set aside the search for God per se and seek humility instead. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Pride is one of the most effective ways to block God out of our lives. Throw all your efforts into becoming a more humble person. For inspiration, read up on people throughout history who were known for their humility. If you’re not exactly sure what true humility involves (I definitely wasn’t), this is an excellent article that explains that humility is not the same thing as low self esteem or thinking that you’re bad.

2. Go on a cynicism fast

Commit to a period of time during which you’ll fast from all sources of cynicism: give up watching TV shows and reading websites that make jokes at other people’s expense (even if it’s about celebrities or politicians); try to change the subject or say something positive if such conversations come up in person; avoid making cynical jokes or comments yourself. You might be surprised at how much this fast will transform your heart.

3. Read the great Christian authors

While a transformation of heart, a turning of the soul toward God, is the most critical step in opening ourselves to God, it’s also important to realize that seeking God does not mean setting aside logic and reason; as I mentioned in this post, quite the contrary is true. Asking tough questions and hearing what the great Christian thinkers have said on the matter will only bring you closer to God. Some authors I recommend are C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo (I recommended some specific books that influenced my conversion here).

4. Do the experiment

I believe that God’s existence can be “proven” in a certain sense, as long as you understand that God = Love, and what you’re trying to prove is Love itself. This is not something you can know about from analyzing data or reading books alone. To get the “proof” that you seek, you must enter the laboratory of your heart, and actually conduct the experiment: live, for a while, as if God did exist. Pray. Follow the Ten Commandments. Show love and kindness to everyone, even your enemies. Read the Bible. Give God the thanks and honor and respect you would show him if he did exist. As Pascal suggested, just try it for a while, and see what happens.

5. Pray frequently

This is by far the most important step. I know, you feel like you’re talking to yourself. You don’t see the point of it. I was there for a long, long time. But there is no substitution for humbly, regularly turning toward God with an open mind and an open heart. If you’re stuck for words, consider reciting something like the Prayer of St. Francis, or just pray, “God, I want to find you. Show me how. I’m listening.”

The bottom line is this: seek, and you shall find.

This statement is true. If you understand what it really means to seek (using both your mind and your heart); and if you understand that the finding part doesn’t necessarily happen immediately, that you’re beginning the long process of building a relationship that will continue to grow and change for the rest of your life, you will find God.

Also, I would be delighted to include anyone in this situation to my prayers. Please feel free to leave a comment (anonymous is fine) if you’d like for me and other readers to pray for you (thanks to Tausign for that suggestion).

New here? Come say hi on Twitter at @jenfulwiler!



Enter the Conversation...

99 Responses to “Finding God in 5 Steps”
  1. Tausign says:

    To your ‘seeking friends’ I might add this comment. The fact that you have a desire to find God is your initial ‘proof’ that he exists and is calling you. He is not indifferent to your plight but he works in his own mysterious way.

    Do not feel guilty, inadequate, or unworthy because you haven’t ‘found’ him yet or experienced the ‘joys’ that are written of on this blog. Be confident because he has called you. The steps listed above are helpful. Thank God in advance for your mustard seed sized faith, for without it you could not have even come this far.

    As far as this prayer intercession for seekers…I’m in!

    • ma.jennifer says:

      thank you for giving me hope that indeed god is still there calling me although sometimes i question myself if he still loves me because it seems that he doesnt hear my prayers anymore…i want to feel that god still loves me even if i have sinned so many times.. pls. help me pray that he will let me feel his presence in my life. im a 33 yr old widow with a 9 yr old son pls. help me pray that i will be able to give him a good and happy life.

  2. Abigail says:

    A strong second on the “fast from cynicism fast!” I think the whole trying to stay in the hip crowd by adopting a detached, ironic view of faith and world events in general has been a major stumbling block for me in the past.

    I’m also in for strong prayer intercession for all seekers! The door really does swing open wide for all who knock and the joy on the otherside is incredible!

  3. Potamiaena says:

    Please pray for Laura, who is seeking. Her 81 yr old mother-in- law has suffered a major stroke and is slowly dying. This situation has brought up many questions about death, treatment, and life.

    I am going to refer this blog to her. Thank you, Jenn and everyone!

  4. Kim says:

    I am a seeker still struggling to put all the pieces together. I have made considerable progress but still stumble and bump along. At times I overthink every little detail then check dozens of books and become completely and utterly overwhelmed. But there is a magnet out there… I feel it pulling me somewhere.

    This passage from Thomas Merton summerizes where I am:

    “Good Shepherd, You have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don’t get tired of looking for me! I know You won’t. For You have found me. All I have to do is stay found.”

    Please pray for me to “stay found”.
    Thank you
    -Kim

    • Sarah says:

      This is a wonderful comment! I’m a farmer – I’ve worked almost every kind of livestock, and chose to raise goats as my primary focus. Goats looooove breaking fences, wrecking pens, climbing over/under/through things to escape, jumping into hay feeders that can break their legs and generally create as much mischief as possible, just like that “wild and crazy sheep”.

      But I love those goats to pieces anyway – sometimes despite their trouble-making, but most often because of it. I enjoy not just what they give me in terms of meat to sell, but I also enjoy satisfying their needs for food/water/medical asst/scratching hard-to-reach-spots and working with such lively, intelligent, adept creatures.

      The point of all this: if I feel that way about a bunch of troublesome & demanding furballs, how much more does the Good Shepherd love us – not just for the praise & appreciation of God’s Creation that we give, but also taking pleasure in satisfying our needs and working with (and through) such lively, troublesome, intelligent, demanding, prone to escaping or doing dangerous things, adept, two-legged creatures?

  5. Lisa says:

    I will be the first to ask for prayers. I have a beautiful extremely inteligent, getting ready to graduate from college, niece who somewhere along the line has not been able to “prove” God exist. This has been very painful for her very Catholic family. While we have tried to have open dialoge with her, it becomes futile because she likes to take things to an intellectual level that she believes is above us. Therefore, we just continue to pray that God will plant a seed in her heart and in his time it will sprout.

    I have enjoyed finding your blog. Your “Why I became Pro Life” is fabulous! I think I will try to send her a link to this last post; maybe it could be the seed.

    We love her dearly and we want her to experience the love and joy that only Jesus our Lord can give! Any additional prayers for her conversion would be greatly appreciated!

  6. La gallina says:

    What incredible advise!

    I remember years ago saying prayers that went something like, “OK, God, if you exist, prove it to me NOW.” Since nothing happened and I felt like I was talking to the wall I decided that either God didn’t exist, or he didn’t care if I believed in him.

    Maybe I would have opened myself up to him a lot sooner if I had read suggestions like yours back then.

  7. CATHY says:

    Thank you for this good list. I am a new reader and am blessed to be finding helpful information for my mental files for possible sharing with atheist and agnostic friends and loved ones. (Not to mention helping my daughter who has many teen friends who consider themselves agnostic, but who continually seek God through her).

    “The Shack” by William P. Young is the best book I’ve ever read. MIND-BLOWING is the only way to describe it.

    Thanks again :)

  8. SuburbanCorrespondent says:

    Sometimes parables work better than theological tracts for the beginning believer. I recommend the Chronicles of Narnia myself. Every time I read them, I recognize some important truth. CS Lewis was truly inspired when he wrote these.

  9. James in NY says:

    First off, I was raised in a household that shunned religion due to the abuse my mother suffered in the name of God from her Baptist step-father. I had always just accepted that there was no such thing as God, that Jesus was a great historical figure but no more. Then I went to a Jesuit university (for the great education alone!) and went to my first ever religious service: a mass welcoming new students to the school. I was moved and figured that even though I had no clue what I was doing, I said a prayer to let me find God, or the other way around. Shortly after this I had a dream in which a young girl came to my door and led me through some woods to Christ on his last day. She gestured toward him and told me “through him you can be saved.” Since then I have prayed, not consistently, and opened my heart to a calling. Recently, in my prayers, I have felt a calling to the Church. My only question is: How does a never-baptized nor confirmed twenty-something guy begin his life with the Church? Do I just walk into my neighborhood parish and tell someone? I just don’t know where to go from here. I feel the love of God every moment and am ready to commit. Please help!

    • Ralph says:

      James,
      How awesome that God gave you a dream like that! He is totally calling you. One piece of advice is that you should have someone you can talk to who can help you along. Do you live in NYC? I have believing friends all over NY state, so perhaps you can tell me what city and I can see if one of them can grab coffee with you and walk this road with you until you feel comfortable. I live overseas otherwise I would do it myself!
      Blessings,
      Ralph (from NY)

    • J Brown says:

      Wonderful! What a tremendous blessing you will be to the family of God! In case you haven’t done it already, call your nearest Catholic church and ask about starting in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program. RCIA is the process of becoming a Catholic, and it starts with an open Inquiry process where you just ask any questions you want. Keep learning, and heads up – some parishes have accepted modernist ideas (especially on contraception, homosexual acts, women priests, etc.) that are *not* Catholic teaching (check the Catechism of the Catholic Church), and which would take you away from the fullness of the faith. God bless you and give you the light of the Holy Spirit on your way.

  10. JustJohn says:

    After some twenty five years of pseudo-agnosticism, during a great crisis of despair, while in the ever familiar throes of “why can’t I believe like I once used to?”, a present day marketing sound-bite rang as an ultra-clear bell of revelation in the mind of my heart…”Just do it!”

    For me it all came down to that. If you want to believe, than just do it. Leave the rest up to God. Beyond the consent of our will, we are truly helpless.

  11. Theocoid says:

    ckemiANother confirmation of the “fast from cynicism” step. Cynicism kills not only faith but love.

  12. John says:

    A few thoughts…

    No one can “find” God, but God has probably already found you and that’s why the question is bothering you.

    I think it was Peter Kreeft, in his book on the Virtues, who wrote that Faith is not the same thing as believing. I thought for a long time that faith was much like believing that 2+2=4,(or maybe like 2+2+5!) He wrote that belief is like a camera, taking pictures of what is. But Faith is like an army, that takes a stand.

    To “prove” God exists you have to run the “experiment of life.” This is not as discouraging as it seems, because in fact that’s how we test most important things. There’s no scientific test to show that you are marrying the right person, is there? You have to make the venture, and the proof will come. And your beloved would not be likely to respond positively if you said, “Prove that you love me, right now, or I’m outta here.”

    “Certainty, in its highest sense, is the reward of those who, by an act of will, and at the dictate of reason and prudence, embrace the truth, when nature, like a coward, shrinks [from it]. You must make a venture; faith is a venture before a man is a catholic; it is a gift after it. You approach the church in the way of reason, you enter it in the light of the spirit.”
    – John Henry Newman

  13. Glen says:

    [Not sure if this is the second post. If it is, please delete.]

    I’ll tip my hat to the great post as well.

    For me, the the Holy Spirit pulled me (back) to the Catholic sacraments and opened my heart.

    My inherent nature is analytical, and I was trying to analyze God by the senses or by a philosophical argument, so JPII’s Faith & Reason encyclical, showing that the two are not opposed – which is how they are so often cast in the media – helped dramatically.

    St. Augustine’s Confessions was a very good recommendation from a cousin of mine.

    Another friend of mine recommends The Screwtape Letters, which helped him dramatically on his journey, and I whole-heartedly agree.

    But I was a hard egg to crack, so it took all this and the preaching of a couple of good priests and one extraordinary bishop to move my heart. (I also had hordes of people praying for me.)

  14. John says:

    ooops, typo. I meant 2 + 2 = 5

  15. Jon says:

    James in NY, if you want to start living with the Church, the first step is to get baptized since that’s the sacrament of initiation into the Body of Christ (aka the Church). To do this, start attending services somewhere and make sure to mention to the priest that you aren’t baptized but would like to be. They’ll tell you what to do from there.

    Jon

  16. Jennifer F. says:

    James in NY -

    Do I just walk into my neighborhood parish and tell someone?

    That would be a great start! The program you’re looking for is called RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Here is a link that explains what RCIA is.

    - MassTimes.org is a great resource for finding a Catholic church near you.

    - I know that I and many other people in my RCIA program enjoyed reading books by converts like Scott Hahn and Mark Shea. You might like to check out some of their books.

    Feel free to email me as well (link on my profile)!

  17. Rocks In My Dryer says:

    Jennifer, this is excellent. I’m going to stop writing a blog and just link to you and say, “yeah, what she said.”

    I’m kidding…but this is an excellent post.

  18. Jon says:

    Well, RCIA is what you’ll do if you’re joining the Church through a church that’s in communion with Rome. There are churches in the east, generally called the Orthodox, who aren’t in communion with Rome but whom Rome recognizes as part of the Church. There are also what Rome calls ecclesial communities, which includes every other group that identifies itself as Christian. Some of those, like the Anglicans, understand themselves to be part of the Church even though Rome disagrees.

    The process one goes through before baptism varies depending on which group is doing the baptizing.

    Jon

  19. Filippo in CA says:

    First of all, a really great post. I find myself in a different situation, actually mentioned by one of the posters. My children, age 29 to 18, have grown up essentially as non practicing Catholics, partly my fault I am sure (divorced household, unfortunately). I pray as much as I can that the Lord may call them back to the fold, so far I have only seen some signs, but it is a hard thing to wait and pray. I guess St. Augustine’s mother went through something like this.
    Anyway, I would appreciate advice, prayers and support.

  20. Danny says:

    For Lisa,

    definitely prayer is the most important thing to get your niece back in believing in God (St. Augustine’s mother, Monica, prayed for 16 consecutive years until her son came to know God). If you wanted a boost for her, though, you may want to check out Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas. There is a part in this writing that deals with “Does God Exist?” and he comes up with five very scientific reasons for God’s existence. It is a tough read, so if she is serious in proving God’s existence with reason, then she can take her time with it.

    Good luck and never stop praying (I will say a prayer for her as well)!

  21. Mike says:

    I love your long title better. I got an amazing belly laugh out of it. Thanks.

    On prayer, I heard somewhere once (can’t remember where) to pray often and when necessary, use words. That has had a lot of meaning for me.

  22. Ashley says:

    This is a fantastic list for those of us who are just getting lukewarm in our faith — 5 Steps to Being a Better Christian. :)

    “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

  23. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I think this is a great post for those who have been floundering in their faith! Thanks for a wonderful post.

  24. Derek Rotty says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog. It provides inspiration that my job (leading youth to Christ) is not impossible. On a different note, you have been “tagged” for a meme at my blog. Please also consider giving me a link in your blogroll. God bless!

  25. sirhair says:

    I used to be an Atheist… and I had a similar experience with my conversion… first and foremost is Humility! I didn’t realise when I allowed myself to have intellectual humilty what I was doing, but somehow it happened. And as I was seeking, God came to me in a most glorious way. And I second all of them, though for me the order was different.

    Praying came first without me realising it [I was “meditating” daily and while was meditating, I happened to be in adoration (I was also chasing two Catholic girls), and I happened to make the mistake of asking God to show Himself.]

    With the meditating came the reading of classic authors so I could “debate” against the best…

    and well I failed.

    And I’ve never been so happy to have failed at anything!

    The world is so much more meaningful and beautiful on this side of faith!

  26. Firefighter says:

    Great message, keep it up.

  27. James says:

    John and Jennifer, thank you! It has been a busy few weeks but I have been able to attend mass and had a great conversation with my old student advisor from college about the RCIA. He phoned the parish priest from the church near my house and this week I am going to mass there and talking to him. Thank you again for your help, I just had no idea where to go from here. Cheers!

  28. Myron says:

    Hi. I’m not religious, but if you want to get someone to believe something they don’t believe, or to believe something more strongly that they’re not sure about, then #4 and #5 in particular are great steps. There’s a psychological phenomenon called “cognitive dissonance”, which is what makes this work. Basically, many people think that things go from you believeing something to you acting on your belief, but in fact it goes both ways. If you do something that’s inconsistent with your current beliefs, your beliefs will tend to change to be consistent with how you’ve acted, because you don’t want to feel like a hypocrite. This is the root of a lot of hypocrisy and nastiness in the world, but also if you want to use it to strengthen your faith, it will almost certainly work. Jennifer did a great post on good vs. evil which relates to this, it’s worth a read.

    My problem is, knowing that this method (praying, and acting as if I believe in God) will work, and if I use it my beliefs will change, doesn’t mean my beliefs _should_ change. In Pascal’s-wager terms, my red “happiness/self-fulfilment” chips are wagered that doing as much good for others/the world as a whole as possible is the best way to happiness. This core value is something that economists, statisticians, psychologists, and people of strong faith can all agree on, the only difference is where each of these groups thinks the basic impulse comes from. So since I’m not exactly searching for a way to strengthen my faith, you may wonder why I’m writing here. The basic reason is, hey, I might be wrong, and there might be a path to even greater happiness or self fulfilment, or a way I can do even more good in the world than I am currently. And the way to get there is to put my thoughts out into a community that doesn’t agree with me about God, and see what comes back. And if it turns out I’m not wrong, perhaps this post will “plant a seed” for someone else who reads it to contemplate their own beliefs more deeply. So right or wrong, writing this makes sense. Now, my thought is that since my resources and time on the earth are finite, and the opportunities to do good in the world are actually more than I have time to do, spending time in worship or other faith-related activities will actually be harmful in a way (less good gets done that way). Anyone have a convincing counter-argument? Feel free to refer me to good books, rather than writing it out yourself, as I’ll be the first to admit I’m not well read in Christian thought and so I might be talking out of ignorance here.

    I’m going to do #3, (1-3 actually, because I think they’re good steps regardless of your level of faith) and if I find something during that process that makes me go “hey, I was on the wrong track with this post” I promise I’ll come back and say so, and possibly remove this post.

    Best of luck to everyone on your journeys, whether they be religious/spiritual or not.

  29. steven says:

    To your ‘seeking friends’ I might add this comment. The fact that you have a desire to find God is your initial ‘proof’ that he exists and is calling you. He is not indifferent to your plight but he works in his own mysterious way.
    ————————
    martin

    buzz marketing

  30. Myron says:

    Interesting. Tausign (first commenter) and steven (most recent commenter before me) have posted identical paragraphs. Most likely this paragraph comes from a single source out there somewhere on the net. Anyone know where it is?

  31. Jennifer F. says:

    Interesting. Tausign (first commenter) and steven (most recent commenter before me) have posted identical paragraphs. Most likely this paragraph comes from a single source out there somewhere on the net. Anyone know where it is?

    Actually, I think it’s that Steven’s comment was spam. He tried to leave a few others excerpting from other parts of other people’s comments, but I rejected them once I realized what was up.

    It’s actually spamming genius, when you think about it: comment on old posts and rip off segments of what others have already said: the blog author won’t recognize it as spam since it’ll be relevant to the post, and since it’s an older post they won’t realize it’s duplicate comments. Quite clever.

  32. Dorci Harris says:

    Just wondering where Jesus fits into all of this? Where is the need to confess our sins and be forgiven by the blood of the cross?

  33. Loopa says:

    I was born and raised catholic, spent the first 30 years trying to believe and finally gave up and declared myself an atheist but have always had my doubts and figured that was due to my upbringing rather than any “true” reason. Recently however, I fell in love with a fundamentalist Christian, who has a problem with my lack of belief and I have been searching for answers. This post concerning faith vs belief or to continue seeking somewhat comforting. The post on God=Love was particularly relevant because it is the Love I feel for this woman that has created this doubt in my life. My problem, as somewhat dealt with by St Augustine is that I want evidence, or that I am afraid that I am willing to continue to seek, but feel like there will be no answers; especially since I feel like I spent the first 25 years seeking and asking with no answers. Any advice?
    I would also like to say thank you for the blogs.

  34. Loopa says:

    whoops – I should also point out that I am a biologists and therefore a very rational skeptic thinker which makes it all the more difficult. I spent most of my childhood in very close relationships with clergy who were and are still good friends but I see so many reasons to think that religion in general is a creation of the mind and battle with a lack of reasons to believe. Thanks again!

  35. Dorci Harris says:

    Loopa, religion is in large part manmade. It is in a relationship with Jesus Christ, through faith in Him and His sacrifice for our sins on the cross, that one is saved.

    Faith is believing without seeing. Everything around you, including the Christian woman whom you love, has been placed there by God to show you how much He loves you. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31

  36. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Loopa – thanks for your comment!

    My problem, as somewhat dealt with by St Augustine is that I want evidence, or that I am afraid that I am willing to continue to seek, but feel like there will be no answers; especially since I feel like I spent the first 25 years seeking and asking with no answers. Any advice?

    When you say that you spent 25 years asking with no answers, are you referring to asking God to speak to you (i.e. praying) or asking as in researching the reasonable case for God’s existence?

    My personal experience and conversations with countless former atheists is that the process of coming to faith is usually twofold: first, you must research the rational case for God. Obviously, as a scientific-minded person, you simply couldn’t believe something that was fundamentally unreasonable, even if you wanted to. I could recommend some books on that subject if you have any interest.

    But at some point you realize that research will only get you so far. At some point, once you have established that it is reasonable and probable that God does exist and Jesus is who he said he was, you have to take a leap of faith. You have to reach out to Him and ask for his help, even if it feels crazy. (That’s where it can get scary for people like us.) :) I talked about this part a bit more in this post, which might give you some food for thought.

    Anyway, those are just some thoughts. I’m in a rush and don’t have much time to write, but just wanted to give you a quick response off the top of my head so that I didn’t forget.

  37. Loopa says:

    Thanks Dorci – I try to believe that but it’s hard!

    Thanks Jennifer and yes I spent 25 years trying, praying and going to church, and was actually well ahead of most of my peers in confirmation, bible study, etc. Catholic school too, but never felt like I truly believed after about 18 or so I guess. Additionally, my father was in the seminary for many years and my background in Catholicism in general is/was above average which made it all the more difficult to understand for me.

    Coincidentally, I just talked with a good friend tonight who was my pastor for many years, who said I really haven’t changed as much as I think and I still have faith he says (not sure if he is right on all points but it felt good). I definitely felt myself leaving the more I learned about anthropology, history of religions, psychology etc. and looked at it as improbable for there to be the Christian God. So yes, I am definitely interested some reasoning to get through this. But even so, I spent most of my time from 18-30 believing that even though I wasn’t sure I should keep trying, and have faith (even if I felt that it was extremely forced) but eventually I guess I felt that it was self delusion and having asked for help all the time I felt like I never got it (don’t know what I expected). My past relationship has just made me at least question this again (although I have always been doing that at different times). Thanks for the help.

  38. Dorci Harris says:

    Loopa, keep asking God to reveal Himself to you. Then wait for it… I’m praying for you.

  39. Mitch says:

    Without being religious in the slightest, I agree that humility is essential. Too many on all sides are too proud. Too many Christians believe that they are great just because they believe god created man in his image. Too many atheists are too proud to admit the possibility of God’s existence (although very few are this certain, those who are this certain are usually not to sharp).

    I once in time ago was “agnostic” I suppose. I believed in the Christian god but did not observe many customs and didn’t believe the stories were literally true. Then one day I realized 2 things:
    1. I accepted God’s existence as a presupposed fact without ever establishing that fact.
    2. I looked back on all the things I had prayed for in the past that had come true, all of the significant “miracles” that had happened and realized they all happened because I did something about it.
    From this I decided upon some tests, for the next few problems that came along; I decided to spend the time in which I would normally pray thinking about solutions. And it worked, so well.

    I realized from the experiment that (and this is my point): Belief in God or not, you can’t wait around expecting him to change things for us (or yourself). We must take steps to change our own surroundings, and if that is not possible then we recognize that it is ourselves that must change. On this principle I have gained many friends, a GF and some serious initiative in my life.

    “Don’t wait for a miracle, be a miracle”
    -Jim Carrey, Bruce Almighty.

  40. Mark Lefers says:

    Thanks for your post and the suggestions. I’d appreciate any prayers, as I’ve been in doubt/unbelief for more than 2 years without much progress. Thanks.

  41. Bridge says:

    Sometimes, when I get up from bed, look at my (usually messy) room around me, I think “Who woke me up? It’s still only 6:30 am for goodness sake!” That is about the time I realize it’s just in time for me to get up and go to mass at the church down the street. Right about then I would groan and flop back down, ready to resume sleep.

    “He’s waiting for you. Go, and I will come with you.” This is my Guardian Angel telling me to go of course. He knows me too well…. He knows that I can receive the body of Christ if I would only get up. He knows Jesus wants me to want to go to mass. He wants to go himself, for he will not go without me.

    This is TOUGH…

    “Alright!” I yell in my pillow, knowing I will regret it if I don’t and enjoy it if I do. I quickly get up and get ready. “I’m hurrying, I’m hurrying.” I whisper so I don’t wake anyone. I look at my watch as I head out the door.

    6:45 Fr. always starts mass at exactly 6:45! “Please wait! I mutter, knowing God is watching me trudge along the sidewalk.

    Just as I reach the door, I look at my watch again. 6:53

    Father walks onto the alter as soon as I sit on the pew so I rise as Mass begins.

    This, for anyone who might read it, is what happens often in my life. I am sixteen years old and I am in love with God. Ok, so I am really bad at waking up for mass… but I have never regret going. My faith is a gift, so I know I can’t take it for granted. I am currently working hard to make sure that I don’t have any excuse what so ever to leave the faith. I have already read many books that have converted so many and rejected society’s philosophies that have harmed people’s innocence and faith. Hope is something I will never give up. Most of my siblings say they are happy with their current “God is collective energy” crap, but I see differently. I long to share my enthusiasm and love of life that my faith has given me but they just don’t see it. They think I am a naive child who’s beliefs have not yet been tested. It’s not that it hasn’t been tested, it’s that I haven’t lost it. I pray I don’t have a “night of the soul” because I don’t know if I could handle it very well.

    The post above was a wonderful way to not only FIND one’s faith and develop one’s belief, but it is an excellent way to KEEP one’s faith and belief. This is a person, a real being we are talking about here. Not some abstract idea like so many agnostics think of and the way so many atheist disapprove of.

    Thank you so much Jennifer; for being you. You are so much of a blessing to have in this world. I am honored to be able to read this blog. I know the Holy Spirit is working through you. God bless, and I’m praying for all people having a tough time in their faith life. Please pray for me and mine. (I am the youngest of a family of 11, including my parents that are still together. Just say I pray for Brigid and her family please! lol Thanks.)

  42. Monica says:

    Hi,

    I was recently Confirmed in the Church. Our RCIA teacher gave us a paper with a bunch of websites to check out. Your blog was on there, and I was drawn to it as I'm a mother myself (I'm a stay-at-home mom to my 2 little boys).

    Anyway, I am definitely struggling with my faith. I pray every day but I don't know if God hears me. Sometimes I still wonder if there is a God.

    It's hard around here – I live in Berkeley and the prevailing view is definitely agnostic/atheist. I've felt kind of unmoored ever since RCIA ended, but luckily the RCIA leader's wife started an ENDOW class and now I'm doing that. It just started last week, and I'm just so glad that I have something that is drawing me back in a bit.

    I grew up in the SF Bay Area, and I had the 'traditional' views of most everyone around here – pro-'choice', anti-religion, etc. Now all that has changed in me, and I don't know how I fit in.

    I also don't know how I fit into the Catholic Church, because I can't honestly say that I agree with some of the issues the Church has taken stances on. I am trying to figure out how to be a Catholic who sometimes disagrees, I guess.

    I know something drew me back to the Church. I just don't know what it was. On my good days, I think it was God. On my bad days, I think it was just my own mind.

    Please pray for me; more than anything, I want to find God.

    Thank you,

    Monica

  43. Tiffani says:

    Hi, I found your page quite on accident and I am trying very hard to be moved and to take action as you suggest.

    You see, I am 23, nearly unemployed and after being divorced, am back with my parents living off of their household. They love me enough to give some of what they have, at the expense of letting them make my choices for me.

    I have anxiety and have been having very traumatic panic attacks since moving in. They do not believe in anxiety and consider me weak if I ever bring it up. I have been reaching out to God for His help in making this manageable for me, hopefully without my parents finding out how bad off my pyschological well being has become.

    I have been reading the Bible, and praying daily. I have been thanking Him for being blessed enough to have somewhere to live, and parents who care at least enough to let me live off of them, and that I do have a career path in mind.

    But this anxiety is something I have no finances to treat medically, and there is no one I have to confide this with. So, I am asking anyone who reads this, God, and myself, to please pray that I can find the coping resources to handle my anxiety.

    Thank you for reading,
    Praying,
    And any advice.

    Tiffani

  44. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Tiffani – Just wanted to let you know that I did see your comment and you've been in my prayers!

  45. James says:

    I really want God to be real, and if He is real I want to Love God. Please pray for me. Pray that I will be open to God and that I will Love Him more than anything. Pray that I will be able to trust Him no matter how afraid I am to do so. I'm so afraid.

  46. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Praying for you right now, James! God bless you.

  47. Jessa says:

    I'm also praying for you James! And all the other people who have asked for prayers! (Laura, Kim, Lisa, Filippo, Loopa, Mark, Brigid, Monica and Tiffani!)

    Jennifer, I stumbled on your blog by accident. Or was it? =]

    Anyway, thank you.. all of you for saying yes to God! It's wonderful seeing the Body of Christ working and responding!

    All we need to do is persevere in saying yes to God especially amidst doubt and unbelief. As I am reading these conversion stories I can see that God's Word does not return to Him void.

    Amen. God bless to you all and keep sharing His joy! Be Light and Salt!

  48. Michelle Kafel says:

    Prayer intercession: for my loving boyfriend, who's atheist, but in his defense has "never read much on Catholicism". I have a lot of hope and faith that he will discern the Truth, but letting the Spirit do His work is something I need the Grace to make him available to. Your blog is so insightful, and I just need the courage to humbly proclaim the Truth, and abandon my desire for his salvation to the will of God.

    Peace, Mish

  49. Destry says:

    Maybe it's curmudgeonly of me to ask, but is there a reasonable time limit in which God might make himself known to you? I feel that I've done all these steps except reading some of the books cited, and have been confirmed since last Easter. Still – no sign, no feeling in any way that anyone is listening when I pray, no response to "come to Jesus" repentence. What am I doing wrong?

  50. Tiffani says:

    I think maybe instead of waiting for proof, you might consider that faith should need no proof

  51. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary says:

    Maybe it's curmudgeonly of me to ask, but is there a reasonable time limit in which God might make himself known to you?

    Not at all! I think that's a great question. First of all, I wouldn't worry that you're "doing something wrong." There could be a lot of reasons for it, most of them not having anything to do with fault on your part. I once got some great advice on faith and feelings here and here. You might find those posts helpful.

    I'm short on time but feel free to email me if you have further questions.

    Thanks all for the comments!

  52. Lori says:

    Tiffani, I stumbled upon this blog and saw your comment about anxiety. My heart immediately broke for you as I have had the same struggle in recent years. I noticed it was August of last year when you first posted, so I'm not sure if you are still struggling, but I am saying a prayer for you. I am a follower of Christ and I sought Him and His word for comfort during my anxiety. I know it can be brought on by many different things. I don't know what your specific struggle is/was. I was dealing with the reality of death and it "helped" me to ultimately place my hope and trust in God alone. I'm praying for you. God loves you. I know that saying can sound trite at times, but the world uses it lightly, but God backs His words up with actions. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Amazing truth.

  53. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful find this blog is! Jennifer, would you please pray for my kids who say they are agnostics even though they have been raised in the Catholic faith all their lives. My husband and I don't know what to do. All we can do is continue giving them the example and the witness of our lives, which we live for Christ as much as we can. May God continue blessing you and your family.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I too am having a lot of trouble with my faith. I was raised as an agnostic but now that I am 22 I find myself really wanting to believe.
    I was referred to your site by someone who answered a question I posted online about how to find faith.
    Thank you for posting, I feel a lot better knowing that someone else was feeling the way I do and had success.

  55. NFQ says:

    Hi. I'm an atheist who found your blog through Unequally Yoked. I'm trying to figure out exactly what you're all about here … I'm having a really hard time understanding how someone who used to be an atheist (not just apathetically, but rationally and vocally) ended up not a deist but a Catholic. You say in this post that "God=Love" — but then where does the Bible and the rest of Catholic dogma come into it? What convinced you that the Christian, and specifically the Catholic, version of God was the right one? Why even bother with all those other, extraneous details defining your religion and your religious practices if you think that God is just the same thing as love?

    • Puragu says:

      Why Catholic? Because the knowledge of God comes from the CC to which God revealed Himself and which God founded. God also revealed Himself to the Jews in the OT. Otherwise, yes, how would one know there is a God at all? There could be many gods or we could be living inside a simulated universe the way an RPG character only believes his world is real (were he to believe anything) and can prove that there is nothing beyond the pixels of his universe, definitely not the programmer or his computer.
      The Christian faith is revealed by the Gospels – by the accounts of Christ who was a real human person, performed miracles, died for everyone’s sins, rose again and ascended to heaven (not the sky but heaven). There are the facts and people need to take these on faith. There is no video recording of Jesus’ Resurrection. These accounts are not very glamorous but makes them less likely to be mythical – for instance Jesus first showed Himself to women when he rose from the dead, Jesus died on the cross and didn’t make a typical Messiah or God humans could imagine, the miracles Jesus performed were not embellished with magic (special effects), Jesus taught things which were against the teachings of the Pharisees etc- if one were to create false gospels one would have chosen a snazzier god who was also less strict to follow.
      In the Scriptures we are told how to seek God – in prayer.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Well, NFQ, that is a lot to unpack! Answering your questions sufficiently would, obviously, be beyond the scope of this one comment, but I think I can explain, if only briefly, why Jennifer was naturally drawn to Catholicism.

    If there is a possibility for God's existence, if even a small one, everyone should take up Pascal on his wager because that one possibility is the difference between everything and nothing.

    Once one accepts the wager, how does one give to God what is His due? In other words, which religion is the religion of God?

    Christianity would be the top contender because of the divine person of Jesus Christ. Catholicism, then, is the first (and many would say only) option. Why? The Catholic Church is the Church Jesus Christ founded in the New Testament. Catholicism IS Christianity.

    The word "catholic," by the way, comes from the Greek "katholikos," meaning "universal" and "one."

    Of course, as an atheist, you would want to be convinced of the above, but I think you can see how Catholicism would, naturally, be the first religion to consider.

    I have noticed many converts from atheism and other religions to Catholicism lately. Orthodoxy tends to intrigue intellectuals because it challenges them. As Jennifer herself said, the Church stands firm on controversial issues no matter the pressures. She (the Church) does not budge on the Truth.

  57. jack says:

    before I was converted I somehow had a grace to ask God for help and so He did show me that my terrible decision was just that. Since then I told God that for 20 years I was doing my will and it obviously didn't work, so I wanted God to take over. After 10 months of listening to http://www.relevantradio.com I was finally and officially converted. I love God with a whole self and so the adventure goes on, jack

  58. Kim D. says:

    Jen–Although I liked the link on “humility,” I recognized the author’s name and thought you should have some more facts about him before linking to his website, which might be dangerous for some readers.
    See this info:
    http://mommylife.net/archives/2010/03/michael_and_deb.html

  59. John Park says:

    God has always been there waiting for us. We are the ones that keep ourselves disconnected from God. Our hearts are contaminated by our selfishness and the things of this world. Our hearts are filled with other loves. God is a jealous God, just as a spouse would be to their mate. God has to be the number one love in your life. As one empties their heart of the many loves that one has towards materialism, the world and idols and you start replacing it with God’s love, you will begin to get to know God. You will draw near to Him. Thank you Jennifer for a nice article. God Bless Us All
    John Park recently posted..Family Structure Is Important For Your Children

  60. arcane jill says:

    Like you, I was (am? it’s difficult to decide…) an atheist but have recently decided that human rationality is an unlikely candidate for the most advanced process in the universe. Since there appear to be no better alternatives, I have found myself directed to religion, yet unable to select one.

    Since the most common religion in the US is Christianity, it seems easiest to try that first, but what is easiest may not always be correct. What if one of the other religions is the legitimate one? After all, Judaism was first, so arguably the original, correct way to relate to God. Alternately, since God is said to be living, or at least partially interested in human affairs, then perhaps legitimacy evolves, with Judaism supplanted by Christianity. If this process occurs, then it would seem that Christianity has been supplanted by Islam, with Muhammad as the most recent in the line of prophets from Abraham through Jesus.

    I am having some difficulty relating to Christianity as the primary path to understanding God. It is neither the original way, nor the most up-to-date way. Judaism seems to be as much about ethnicity as religion, so I am disinclined to convert to Judaism. Both Christianity and Islam are expansionist religions, welcoming persons from any ethnicity and any past, so it is not obvious which I should pursue. From a popularity point of view, Islam is growing faster than Christianity. On the other hand, (I think) there are more Christians overall, suggesting that Christianity has some edge over Islam (but that edge could be 600 additional years to collect followers).

    I have tried, though not entirely successfully, to cultivate humility, and I have also worked to eliminate cynicism from my life. Unfortunately, I seem to be stuck at steps 3 and 4. I briefly tried skipping to step 5, but the praying was procedurally weak because I have not selected a frame of reference in which to relate to God. If I follow 3 and 4 as you recommend, then I would need to commit to Christianity. But what if Islamic writers and theologians are actually correct, and I should be reading their works?

    I should perhaps summarize with a single question: how did you choose Christianity over the other religions?

    • Luis says:

      Jesus on the cross. No one else could or would do what He did, sacrifice all for all, dying on the cross so that we could live forever!

  61. JO says:

    The steps mentioned are beautiful simple yet need a lot of Grace from God. I believe humility is the basic step which gives us much freedom. whereas pride keeps dragging us far away from God.

    Pls pray for me, since i am continuosly struggling to overcome pride although by the grace of God, I am almost getting out of it… and also my prayer life , so that I may be able to develop strong relationship with our God. also pry for my husband and kids that they come more closer to God.Thank You very much. May God Bless You.!!!

    • JO says:

      after reading the article on pride, I understand even the above comment posted by me displays pride… pls keep me in ur prayer.

  62. Cosette says:

    I would just like to say, that this website is exactly what I have been looking for. My life has seriously been missing something, and when I try to find what it is that’s missing, it always comes back to God. I was born and raised catholic, went to catholic schools up until High School, and it’s sad to say, but there is so much that is not clear to me about my own faith. I love to talk about religion and faith, but since I’ve started college I’ve strayed away from that, and I’ve noticed it has slowly become a lesser part of me. Life has stepped in and has taken over something that should be such an important part of me. In realizing what my life is lacking, I am willing to open up and find what’s been missing in my life. I love that you have laid out beginning steps for those who are willing to find God. I think I will follow it :) Having the determination to do this, plus the coming of a new year, this could not have been a more perfect time to stumble upon this website. Thank you so much! God bless.

  63. Heath says:

    I’m not sure if Catholicism is a good fit for me, but I could use some prayer. I’m athiest/agnostic and I really … hate it. I’m tired of such a depressing outlook of life, I want to hope for something more, something of importance, and I don’t know where to turn. It needs to be real though, that’s my problem, and I’m probably everything on this list … prideful, cynical, I’m nothing good.

  64. jessielie says:

    i just thought of typing in google and type the word how to find god and gotcha i found it…im lost for how many years and i really need god to save me…yeah problems really separate me from god bcos i always pray to god for help but he never help me until time comes i hate him and never pray again…please pray for me to find god soon

  65. Mark says:

    Such a perfect post, simple and yet unimaginably detailed at the same time – a methodology for embracing Christianity.
    Mark recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday Monday

  66. Thanks a lot

    I am already a believer but just
    was looking for some simple ways
    to help others.

    James
    ***Living On The Edge*** recently posted..Warning – 4 Things Your Friends May Be Doing To You

  67. Trudy says:

    I could all the prayer I can get as I seek God after 65 years of non-belief. I pretty much have to agree that He’s responsible for creation, but the rest is hard. I feel no communication or connection. TIA for your prayers.

  68. Hermenegildo R. Alberto says:

    A paz em Jesus

    Irmãos e irmãs no meu humilde ponto de vista em face de uma forma estabelecida para uma conversão de outro irmão ou irmã, não é o tanto quanto correto, sabe por quê? Por que depende muito de cada pessoa, e daqueles passos, pois Jesus disse que tem apenas um passo que podem resolver todos estes outros passos, sabe qual? É amar Deus sob todas as coisas, cumprido este pedido mandamental tudo está resolvido, e este (a) que realizar este mandamento está convertido totalmente. Que Deus abençoe todos (a).

  69. Emily says:

    Hi everyone!
    My name is Emily and I am a young adult trying to find Christ. I’d believe i had found him when I was 12, but after an unnecessary fight with my friend (who was REALLY trying to lead me away from Christ) I found that I couldn’t be a Christian without hurting from old memories. Now I really want to be a christian again. I’ve been praying and praying, and I really want to tell my family (they’re all Christian) that I’m searching for God, but I find that my stupid pride gets in the way. I feel that I’ll be deemed as “weak” if I go back on what I had told them before (“Christianity is so stupid! I’ll never be a Christian.” I want to receive Christ so bad, but I know that I’m not strong enough to pull away from all the horrible sins I commit. I am very disrespectful to my parents and when I get angry I go back on everything I say and cut myself. I just want to find Christ, but whenever I pray, I feel extremely selfish, like I’m only praying so I can get a spot in heaven. I feel like I only pray when I need something, and I always mess up on my prayers.
    Please, please help me find Christ.

  70. jazmine says:

    I used to know God. I’m not sure when I strayed but I believe it was when I was betrayed by the person I loved most. I went through a depression stage followed by getting revenge and from there I was just lost. I’m just starting to seek God again because I know I will get nowhere without Him. But when I made that decision, everything else fell apart. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Everything is worse than it was when I strayed from God. Help.

  71. Michael says:

    Hi there,
    I really apreciate your article and prayer. I was raised catholic and as a kid, went to church and prayed all the time throughout my school years. I’m 26 now and have been looking to get back in touch with God as I have grown distant. My own mind has tainted my heart and soul with negativity over the years and I wish to purify myself with God’s love and become one with the “child” within that I once used to be. This article helps a lot and I thank you very much!

  72. John says:

    I’m seeking the Lord, to no avail that I can see. Please pray for me.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I have been having a lot of difficulty finding God and believing in Jesus. I am trying so hard but my mind just doesn’t want to believe. Please pray for me :( I really want to find Him!

  74. Ted says:

    I have had a pretty rough life that has pushed faith away from me. I struggle to wrap my brain around it as everything tells me that it doesn’t exist. I have 4 children and live a life filled with kindness and compassion. If I live by all the teachings of god, but cannot believe in god what does that make me. I so wish I could unblock my mind and find the faith I had as a child I just don’t know how.

  75. phyland boy says:

    I’d just like to say a prayer. dear Lord, I know you haven’t heard from me for a long time now but I am beginning to realise that I may have hurt you by drifting away from you and in turn I have been hurt without your presence in my life. Lord I ask that you stay by me and guide me into further communication with you so I can be healed if my burdens. Lord I am sorry I left your side and I pray that you will always be by my side no matter what happens. Lord, I ask this out of love for you. amen.

  76. Forever seeking says:

    Hey

    Well i need advice. I have been walking with God for a long time… Nine years ive been saved but ive known of Him.since about Nine years old when i went to church with my family. The church was an “expresive” church, with people dancing and singing loudly. I felt something that day. I believe it was God. Ever since then ive been “talking” to God. Now i have a dilemna. My life has been turned up side down abour three years ago. Seperation from my husband. Back to living with my parents. Was starting to do well in my job then i got retrenched. Now my child might be autistic and financially i am truly struggling. Ive never been ashamed of God bt now im been asked bt friends and esp family, “where is this God that you serve now?” And i honestly dnt know wat to say anymore. Ive been reaching out to God. Seeking Him.. Crying out to Him. Fought with Him.. Begged Him to help and to intervene.
    So right now im asking for advise…. To keep being patient. Am i doing the searching wrong. Yes i am goin to church. I read my Bible… I speak to God all the time, no matter what im doing… When i sin i run to Him. So please any sound advice will help…
    kind Regards

  77. Anonymous says:

    Hey all . I feel that I am having a hard time finding God . I am constantly trying to seek him with my heart and mind but I don’t feel like it’s working . I relate this to what you said about the fish being in an ocean . How can it look for something that was never lost ? I feel like I should know that He is with me , but I don’t feel like He is . Some close friends and family had told me when they found God , the feeling of Love and calmness was overwhelming. I want to feel that . I went to church as a child and actually hated it , and have had others opinions somewhat influence my decision in what to believe . Throughout the years I have found myself balancing back and forth between if He is real , and at this point in my life I am sure he is . I just want to feel His comfort beside me . I ask for your help and for you to please pray for me and others in my situation

  78. Danielle Smith says:

    Please pray for me. I have always known that God exists, but never sought out a relationship with him. My fiance was the same way. Recently he began to pursue a deeper relationship with God and in doing so, believes that God told him to turn his focus away from our relationship and towards theirs, so he called off our wedding. I’m alone and confused and so heartbroken. I’ve been praying for hours every day and I don’t think I could possibly cry anymore. I need God. I can’t do this on my own anymore. Please pray for me and that, one day, we could be together again.

  79. anonymous says:

    thank you for your tips now I eager to do it….
    know what I really need this coz for the pass 7 years of my miserable life I’ve been an agnostic and it didn’t go well…. now I need god but I honestly don’t know how to find him…. thank you for your tips how this lead me to god… if you have some other tips can you please send that to my email….

    -anonymous from Philippines

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  81. Christina says:

    I am in a crisis of faith I have been a non practicing catholic for all of my 29 years of life Yet I find it hard to believe in god I am too logical for my own good and many time find the thoughts of “what if there is no god and after we die it is everlasting darkness, that is the end that awaits us” I have had a lot and when I mean a lot I mean ALOT of events occur in my life that have forever altered my belief in god. You see I was sexually abused by one brother and physically and emotionally abused by the other my parents never stood up for me and that has brought a terrible black cloud over our relationship as I can never understand why they never protected me or better yet why god never protected me. Oddly enough I forgave the brother who sexually abused me but hate the one who physically and emotionally abused me I hate. I also do not speak to my sisters who have emotionally hurt me as well. I am also losing the man I love and have been married to and created a family with because I hold grudges and trust no one it is a fault in me I know this all too well my husband is Christian and wants to become a pastor what holds us back from taking the steps to become a ministry filled family is honestly me. I am ashamed to say I have no faith I am angry and lost and have the “why me” complex the anger and resentment I have not only towards god but my parents family and now husband as well are “blackening” my very existence and since I now have two toddlers I worry if I am raising them the right way. I do have them pray and teach them about god and religion but my children and children in general are very perceptive and I wonder if they realize I am not wholeheartedly committed to god. I am seeking my path in life I have so much on the line right now. I am hoping to find my path as I am lost and angry with everyone right now.

    • I am so very sorry to hear of all that you’re going through right now, Christina. You have some tremendous burdens to carry, and it is completely understandable that it’s impacted your faith. Know that you’ll be in my prayers.

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