Why doesn’t God seem to fulfill my human needs for intimacy?

My question: My Spiritual Director says that if I am in touch with Jesus and keep a regular and good relationship with Him (through personal prayer, Word of God, mass etc), I can receive all I need from Him i.e. all my needs can be satisfied from Him. However, I personally feel that there are some things that I cannot receive from Him. For example, sometimes when I pray, I dont get the comfort that I would have got if I had spent that time with a friend. Many times I feel the need for a hug or a touch. If I pray at that time, it doesn’t satisfy as much as getting a real hug. Is this because the ‘quality’ of my prayer hasn’t reached that level OR is it because some needs just have to be fulfilled from other humans / worldly things? I.e. should I just try to improve my prayer quantity and quality so as to be fully fulfilled (emotionally, spiritually etc) from Him?

Your issue is a common one. We long for intimacy as humans and physiologically we need it as well. In our limited human capacity we find an aching that is left when things don’t meet with our own human expectations.

Therefore, in prayer we often assign these human expectations to God to fulfill and often God does not fulfill those expectations in our human way. But we are taught that God always gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. Could it be that we don’t think that God can fulfill what we need and we are defeating the purpose by simply not believing that?

The kind of joy we get here from various things indeed can be short lived — that is our experience of human joys, but the experience that God truly has for us surpasses all of our expectations. Even as you state that sometimes you just need a hug–well, sometimes we do. And then we long for that hug again when another problem comes our way..and another…and another. One hug isn’t enough to last a lifetime is it?

But God does indeed call us to relationship, not only with the Godself but also with one another. Perhaps in your prayer this longing is being used by God to call you into these loving relationships–into finding someone who can understand your pain — into trusting someone enough to allow them to hug you and hold you and to let you simply be yourself without any pretensions or a need to impress someone. Perhaps God calls you to find someone who can be the arms and hands of Jesus who longs to embrace you in your pain even when you find God far away or unfulfilling.

Think of a very close friend whom you might share deep things with–your hurts, your pains, etc. You might not share that and probably shouldn’t with someone you just met or someone that you haven’t developed that same level of trust with, no? The same is true with God. We need to develop our trust in God through relationship that happens in prayer — to let God see us for who we are (for he does already even when we pretend that he does not) and to help us believe that God can indeed fulfill all our restless needs.

But a hug sure helps too. Find those who God brings to you to be more open and vulnerable with and enjoy them for the great friends that they are while you continue to develop the intimacy that God calls you to. A good confessor or spiritual director who is willing to give you a hug when your time is over might also be helpful.