Have you ever become suddenly aware that God was in the room with you?

 

I remember attending a large Christian conference in Canada in the mid-'90s. At one point, representatives from various countries interceded one by one in their native languages for the salvation of their people. As one pastor from China cried out in a tongue completely foreign to me, I found myself weeping uncontrollably.

 

At that moment, God seemed very powerful, very big, very compassionate, and very present. "God-encounters" like that are hard to forget.

 

Here's another. I had just heard a message from 1 Timothy 4:16 on the importance of watching your life and doctrine closely. It seemed as though God Himself had been reaching into my heart to convict me of laziness, unbelief and pride. As the speaker finished, tears were streaming down my face. I didn't want to move, I didn't want to be distracted. I wished I could freeze the moment in time to reflect on the seriousness of God's call on my life. "No doubt about it," I thought. "God is definitely here."

 

Oftentimes, we may experience what we call the "presence of God" during corporate worship. We may sense God's power coursing through us as we sing exultant songs of victory and celebration. During reflective times of communion and awe, we may become aware of His fatherly care and compassion for us. In either case, God often reveals His presence as we sing His praise with other believers.

 

Recently, I read on a website, "An appropriate place to begin a study on praise and worship would be with God's presence. We need to understand that the purpose of praise and worship is two-fold. First, to glorify God, and second, to enter His presence."

 

You may be able to identify in some way with that definition. However, an awareness of God's presence doesn't have to come in a meeting or a church building. If you've ever stood wide-eyed at the rim of the Grand Canyon, looked up from a campsite to take in the countless glimmering stars overhead, or stood in silence as millions of gallons of water crashed unceasingly onto a sandy shore, you may have been gripped by the reality of God's awesome, majestic presence throughout His creation. He truly is everywhere.

 

Perhaps you've noticed the tension we've just stumbled across here. God is present in one place. God is present everywhere. Huh?

 

Setting aside for the moment that God can do things no one else can, let's begin to explore the relationship between worship and the presence of God. Is congregational worship the only place where we can expect to encounter God's presence? Is God with me not only in the sanctuary, but in the parking lot, too?

 

To answer these questions and others, we need to get a grip on what the presence of God actually is. And the best place to do that is God's Word. So stay with us. Next time, we'll dig into Scripture to learn more about the amazing and glorious presence of God.