What is God's Presence? 7 Ways to Experience It
- Cindi McMenamin Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 5 Jul
What is God's Presence?
According to Baker's Evangelical Dictionary, God's presence carries a wide range of meaning. It may be something people fear. Adam and Eve's sinfulness drove them to hide from the Lord in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). God's holiness cast light on Isaiah's sinfulness (Isaiah 6:5). Many people who encountered God or his angel feared for their lives (Judges 13:22; Luke 1:11-12;2:9). Others tried unsuccessfully to escape his presence (Jon 1:3). As God displays his presence through his great power, the whole earth trembles (Judges 5:5; Psalm 68:8). False gods also become powerless before him (Isaiah 19:1). Fear and trembling are proper responses before the One who controls all creation (Jer 5:22).God's presence provides comfort in times of trouble or anxiety (Joshua 1:5). The downcast seek him and find encouragement and strength to praise him (Psalm 42:5).
Although our feelings tell us that at times, we shouldn't be driven by our emotions when it comes to our trust in God. Because Scripture says the "righteous shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17) and "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6), we shouldn't have to feel God to know He's there. But I know how you feel if you find yourself discouraged at times because it seems like God just isn't around.
Unanswered prayer, a series of disappointing events, or a betrayal by someone close to you can cause you to think that God has checked out of your life. Other times we get so busy with our day-to-day lives that we feel guilty that we're not doing enough for Him to want to be around us. But because God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), we can be assured of His constant presence whether we are struggling with a painful situation or just too busy to notice He is near.
When God feels far away, here are are seven ways to can experience and sense His presence.
1. Come Clean with God.
Sometimes you can't sense God's presence because there's something blocking the communication between the two of you. He hasn't left, but your sensitivity to His presence might be affected by unconfessed sin in your life. David, the Psalmist, said, "When I kept silent (about his sin) my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" -- and you forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalms 32:3-5). If you feel God isn't around because the two of you haven't talked in awhile, or because you've avoided the thought of Him for so long, confess to God what's on your heart and mind and ask Him to give you an ear to hear His voice again. 1 John 1:9 tells us: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When your fellowship with Him is restored, the communication can flow again. So get clean (through the forgiveness of Christ) and let it flow.
2. Read Scripture Aloud.
When you audibly speak God's inspired Word, you will sense its power and His presence. The Bible says God's Word is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). That sharp sword will either make you aware of its weight or prick your heart through conviction, inspiration, or determination. A pricked heart is better than a dull heart any day, wouldn't you agree?
3. Sing God a Love Song.
God inhabits the praises of His people. Ever wondered why you sometimes feel closer to God when you're in a church service, singing hymns or praise songs? Could be because that's where worship tends to take place. When you start praising Him, regardless of where you are, you'll sense His presence, probably because you're no longer focused on yourself, but on Him. When we open the door of our hearts to love Him, He will meet us there.
4. Say God's Name and Call Upon Him.
People around you may be using God's name right and left (as a swear word in anger, or as a thoughtless expression). But Scripture says there is power in the name of Jesus because "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Say His name aloud -- as the Answer to all you seek, as the Source to calm your soul, as the One whose presence you long for and you will sense the power of His presence...and His peace.
5. Say a Breath Prayer for His Presense to Take Over.
There are times we need Him but we just don't know what to say or where to start. Start by saying His name and then speak your heart's cry. For me, often times it's just "Jesus, I need You" or "Jesus, give me a heart for You." I believe the simplest of cries are the ones that penetrate His heart -- and ours -- the quickest.
6. Take a Walk for His Presence in Creation.
Exercise brings your body, mind, and heart to life. Feel spiritually dead? Get outside, move around, confess to Him what's on your heart and let Him waken you up, spiritually. My best times with God are when I'm walking while I pour out my heart to Him.
7. Breathe Deeply.
Sometimes we can't sense God's presence because there's too much of everything else going on. Too much noise. Too much traffic. Too much confusion. Too many thoughts running rampant in our minds. Too much anxiety. Center your mind on Him and start to breathe deeply. Try it. Exhale the distracting thoughts. Inhale a desire to sense His presence. Exhale your pre-occupation with self. Inhale a desire to know Him more completely. Exhale the worries of the moment. Inhale His peace. Now, don't you feel better already? Can you begin to sense that you're in His arms? There's a reason His Word says "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10).
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books that help women develop intimacy with God. For more on sensing God's presence, see her books When Women Long for Rest, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs or When God Pursues a Woman's Heart. You can find out more about her books, ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul and marriage at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com