This excerpt is from John's February 2020 book Get Your Life Back. When you pre-order the book, you'll receive several free gifts — including the first few chapters and a one-hour video teaching from John about everyday practices for your soul in a world gone mad. After you pre-order, go to JohnEldredge.com and fill out the form to receive these gifts.
We need to look into what has damaged our union with God.
I realize this is a very poignant thing I’m raising, and I want to proceed tenderly. Do you know what’s damaged your soul’s union with God?
Suffering in all its forms will slowly erode union, if we’re not careful. As will chronic disappointment. Satan will use your suffering, or the suffering of those you love, to introduce mistrust between you and the God you love. You see, he whispers, you are on your own. God’s not here for you. He didn’t do a thing to help. The suffering or disappointment alone is enough to make us pull back, like a sea anemone does when you touch it. But these insidious words poison the relationship, and our union withers. We still might hang onto belief, but as we’ve seen, belief is not the same as saturated union. Has your suffering caused you to pull away? If we name it, we are able to come back towards God. We can choose to open up again, and ask him to heal our hearts, heal our union. We must be intentional to seek the restoration of our union.
So I’ve found it very important to ask God to heal my union with him on a fairly regular basis, certainly after I’ve gone through something that felt traumatizing. Knowing I have a role to play (the door opens from the inside), I will pray something like this:
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit—I need you to heal our union. Heal our union, God. I give myself to you, to be one with you in everything. I pray for union and I pray for oneness. I present my entire being to you, to be one life with you. I invite your healing love and presence into the things that have hurt our union. [Be specific if you can: The loss of my daughter. The betrayal at work. My chronic back pain.] I invite your Spirit into the places where our union has been assaulted. Come and heal me here. Cleanse these places with your blood, dear Jesus. Let your blood wash all wounding, wash away evil, cleanse every form of trauma in me. Bring your love here. I invite the light of your presence to bring healing here. I pray your glory would heal our union. May the glory of God come into the harm and damage, and restore our union. I pray to be one heart and mind again, one life, one complete union. [I will linger a moment to see if the Holy Spirit wants to show me anything specific I need to pray.] Heal our union, God; restore and renew our union. I pray for a deeper union with you, a deeper and more complete oneness. Restore our union, in Jesus’s name.
(By offering this prayer I don’t mean to imply that our souls are healed of trauma in one simple pass. I have seen God do this a number of times, but we need to be gracious and allow that we might need to see a counselor or seek some healing prayer ministry. This prayer is offered as a beginning. In the day-to-day wearing down of our union with God, this will restore it. In cases of more severe harm, more help is recommended.)
Remember, God works gently. He doesn’t answer trauma with a forceful response; he heals through gentleness. Sometimes it can feel dramatic, but maybe only 5 percent of the time. Most of the time the union of our soul with God is something that is very gentle and life-giving. And therefore you have to be gentle and tuned-in to be aware of it. Cultivating the pause, and the other practices in this book, will certainly allow you to be in places that deepen union.