I think I just realized something that lies behind a lot of my distance from and bitterness toward God at this point in my life. It seems to have been building over the years, but it has particularly intensified since getting married to Laura 5 years ago.
The difficulties of married life have brought me to the end of myself time and time again. I have experienced greater depths of depravity and despair in my marriage than I ever have before. This has, in turn, driven me to my knees in prayer more than ever before, begging God for help to change, for wisdom to know what to do, for some comfort from the pain caused by myself and others.
There are plenty of things that have happened that I have looked back on and said that God was at work in my life, but there have also been so many times when I asked for good things and for (what I would call) a good reason, but I seemed to get no response from God. In fact, it has often seemed to only get worse after that.
For example, there are so many times when Laura has brought up something that I do (or don't do) that bothers, or hurts, or upsets her. I "know" that I don't need to get defensive and angry, even if what she says isn't completely accurate or fair, and even if she is just as guilty of the same issue. The Bible and everyone else has always told me that the thing to do is to go to God right then in prayer, asking for help to see myself and Him and Laura correctly, for grace and love and wisdom and patience and everything else that I need in order to respond appropriately. So that's what I do. In that moment I quietly pray, confessing to God whatever I know that have done wrong, asking him to show me where else I am wrong, asking for the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit for both myself and Laura, etc... But I can't tell you how many times things have just gone from bad to worse from there and I have seen no sign of the things that I had asked for.
Now admittedly, I am not in the right place to be able to judge whether or not God heard or even answered my prayers. It could be that he simply wasn't answering them in the way that I was hoping for. But not to be given any indication that my prayers have been heard or feel his help in any way, so many times, is SO discouraging, and I think it is really what has destroyed my prayer life. I have been second guessing for a long time now whether or not God hears my prayers, as well as why or why not. There are plenty of verses in scripture that indicate that God hears or listens to some prayers and not others (e.g. 1 Peter 3:7,12), and so I have tried to figure out whether things that I have done or am doing are preventing my prayers from being heard, or if I'm praying in the wrong manner, etc. But then I think, if something I have done or am doing wrong is "hindering" my prayers, but in my prayers I am asking for help in doing the right thing, and if I need the help of the Holy Spirit to do anything right, then it seems I'm kind of in a "catch 22" situation. Is God waiting for me to start doing things right before he'll help me to do things right??? Surely not, but that's the way it feels some times.
Furthermore, this perceived failure to hear and respond to my prayers on God's part has now become closely linked to my relationship with Laura, so that when things aren't going well between us, they're also not going well between God and me. This makes me feel so helpless and hopeless, and angry. Likewise, as things eventually improve between Laura and me, I seem to get on better and better terms with God. There is a direct correlation between the two. When we start to fight and I begin to regard her as my enemy, I go right back to the same page I left off when God was my enemy.
What changed last year that made things really start to go downhill was that Laura and I started fighting more and more frequently and my bitterness toward her remained more constant. Likewise, my bitterness toward God became more and more persistent. Eventually I reached a point where the bad times outnumbered the good times and I just decided to stop pretending that God wasn't my enemy all of the time. It's not that I want to be his enemy, I just can't shake the feeling that he regards me as such and there's nothing I can do about it, and this does make me angry at him.
Now, when I reach those crisis moments when it feels like there's nothing I can do and I just need the God's gracious intervention, it is extremely difficulty for me to bring myself to ask him for this, because I don't want to get my hopes up only to see them dashed one more time. I say to myself, "You fool! Stop trying to convince yourself that God is your friend and just take care of yourself." Even if I resist this impulse for a while, it's usually just a matter of time before I have seen enough things happen to convince me that God's help is nowhere near and I just stop looking or trying.