How to Soften Your Heart to God

Ways to Soften Your Heart to God

Thinking About God in a New Way

Life can do a number on our faith. Sometimes, life is so painful and difficult, or we are so caught up in unfulfilling relationships and harmful behaviors, that we turn away from our faith in God. 

There are other times when someone else who believes in God hurts us. That feeling of being betrayed by someone who is supposed to live by their faith and love others can make it all the more difficult to turn back to God.

But it is possible for God to soften your heart. You can change from the inside out and have a relationship with God that is fulfilling and will bring you unspeakable joy. 

What does the Bible say about a hard heart?

To understand how to “soften” your heart, you need to know what a “hard heart” is. "Hard heart" is a term used in the Bible and pop culture to describe a person who is stuck in a place of insensitivity or resistance to the love of God and others—think Ebenezer Scrooge. No matter what anyone says or does to help or guide you, your hard heart refuses to listen… you’re emotionally stubborn, either by choice or because life has hurt you over and over.

When the Bible talks about the concept of a hard heart, there’s usually an emphasis on the need for openness, humility, and receptiveness to God's love. In Ezekiel 36:26, God promises to "give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." A heart made of stone wouldn’t be hurt easily, but it also wouldn’t be very good at pumping blood, which keeps us alive. You need your heart (your feelings) to experience life to the fullest, but that can be risky.

Jesus had a profound understanding of the pain we might suffer as humans, which is why he took a compassionate approach to those who hardened their hearts. In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus extends an invitation, saying, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." He knew that our hearts weren’t hardened for fun. Our hearts are hardened to protect us from a scary world, so his invitation is to rest, let go of everything we’re afraid of or resisting, and trust that if we let his love in, it will be worth it.

To soften your heart to God, you have to be willing to surrender the idea that you can keep it all together by yourself, admit that you need help, and accept the transformation that can happen when you let divine love into your life. It's an ongoing process—some days your heart may feel harder than others, and that’s okay. Embrace the compassion of Jesus, who understands our challenges without judgment, and be patient with yourself as you learn how to open yourself to all the spiritual and emotional experiences on your path.

Everyone’s journey is different, but if you are open to considering what a relationship with God might look like for you, I believe God is working in your life right now, to soften your heart towards Him. Here are some important things to think about on this journey: 

1. Start with Prayer and Ask God for a Softer Heart

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Here’s the best part about softening our hearts toward God, we don’t have to do it on our own. God actually gives us a softened heart when we turn to him in search of healing from our hardened heart. Having a softened heart is like having a whole new heart that is more refreshed, more willing to love God and others, and more open to trusting Him.

If you’re struggling to put things into words, here’s a prayer you can say to ask God for a softer heart:

Heavenly Father,

I know you have the power to soften anyone’s heart. I want to have a softer heart toward you and others. Please give me a new heart that accepts your love and forgiveness and extends it to myself and others.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

God is so rich in forgiveness and love that He will start softening your heart as soon as you ask Him in faith. Whether you are a new believer who is struggling to stay strong, or someone who has been turned away from faith for a long time, God is ready to draw near to you and soften your heart with his mercy and love.

2. A Relationship with God Softens Your Heart

Think about having a relationship with God like a relationship with a friend. When we go through difficult times with our friends, our hearts might feel colder towards them. However, as we think through how important this person is to us, we realize we want to restore that relationship, and we allow our hearts to soften to that possibility. We make room to reach out to our loved ones, and to build a greater sense of trust in them. 

There’s no doubt this kind of work in a relationship with a friend is very worthwhile. How much more with God, who created us out of deep love for us, and gave our lives a unique purpose

Thinking about God as someone you have a relationship with, rather than a concept you have to understand, is a great first step toward opening the door for a stronger, richer faith in Him.

3. Understand Why Your Heart has Hardened 

As with any difficulties we are trying to work through, it helps to understand how we got to where we are. 

  • Can you think of any times when you decided to turn away from God and toward a less fulfilling, harmful choice (like a toxic relationship, or an addictive behavior)?
  • Did a traumatic event or painful loss cause you to lose faith in God?
  • Did another believer hurt you or betray your trust?
  • Did you decide you could figure things out on your own?

Being honest about what harms our relationship with God and hardens our hearts is difficult, but it’s an important step toward changing our hearts and minds and turning them back toward God.

4. See the Harm of Hardening Your Heart

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:18 

It is a serious thing when we allow our hearts to grow cold and harden toward God. Not only does it add to our spiritual and emotional pain, but it alienates us from the deep joy and peace we would otherwise have if we were more open toward God and more honest about our need for him. Hardening our hearts can:

  • Make it harder for us to see the good things God gives us every day,
  • Make it more difficult for us to see the good in others, or to love and forgive them.
  • Lead us into darker, more desperate feelings that can further harm our minds and hearts.

5. Ask for Forgiveness for a Hardened Heart

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:13-14

Being truthful with ourselves about the ways hardening our heart toward God has hurt us and our relationships allows us to find a way forward. We know where we went wrong, and we can ask for forgiveness from God for the choices we’ve made that have hardened our hearts. You can ask for God’s forgiveness in prayer. Here’s an example of a prayer you can pray:

Heavenly Father,

I know I have made choices that have hardened my heart toward you. I’m sorry to have hurt you, hurt myself, and hurt my relationships with others. Please forgive me as I seek to change my heart and soften it toward you.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

6. Understand What a Softened Heart Is 

Cast away from yourselves all the transgressions you have committed, and fashion for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31

Once we know the harm of hardening our hearts and are ready to make a change for the better, it’s helpful to understand what it means to have a softened heart.

The desire to soften our heart comes from our innermost being, that place deep within us that longs to be in a relationship with God. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that causes us to listen for God’s guidance, to love and obey God, and to turn away from whatever harms the joy and peace of a relationship with Him. 

Softening our heart will also change our actions. Since we are more open to God and His love, and since we no longer want the pain of a hardened heart, we will make an effort to “cast away” the harmful thoughts and actions that hardened our hearts, so we can start each new day with a heart that is open to loving God and others.

If you need extra encouragement, there is no shame in reaching out for mentoring and support on your faith journey. We all need each other to stay strong in our faith. Talk to a Hope Coach today about your struggles with faith, and how you can keep your heart soft toward God. We are here to listen to you, pray for you, and support you along the way.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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3 comments on “How to Soften Your Heart to God”

  1. I have a hardened heart from decades of living a decadent lifestyle. Reached the state where God may have given up on me as the limit to His patience. No longer have the peace of mind as I am probably going to hell. Please counsel and keep me in prayer

    1. I think you realizing where your heart is now is the first step.🤍 Don't be so hard on yourself. If it wasn't for God's mercy and love all of us would be in trouble. I will pray for you luv! 💓
      Ps. Reading this article I also realized my heart has turned cold 🤍 to certain things as well. Your not alone..

    2. I feel like you're talking about me, Andrew. There's a wall between me and Jesus now. I served Him once, but went my own way. It's difficultto get back in relationship with him. Although this website is for the young, this article may help with the start if our journey back yo Him.

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