Thinking About God in a New Way
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.
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 friend, 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 one, and to build a greater sense of trust in them.
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 allow 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 HopeCoach 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.
Photo by Anthony Tran