Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. Psalm 139:7&8
I grew up being taught that God is “omnipresent.” It meant that He was everywhere all the time. Throughout much of my younger years, I lived unaware that He was present and at times it seemed like he was nowhere to be found. It’s not that God was hiding. I just did not take the teaching about his presence seriously. I was not interested enough to be aware. My antenna was down. My reception was turned off. I wasn’t tuned in to God. Most of the time I was ignoring God. By this default position I remained in the dark regarding who he truly was and how accessible He could be. I was not alone. Many Christians remain unaware of the presence of God in their life. Unaware, they miss noticing God’s grace and live life struggling from one challenge and problem to the next. It’s difficult to maintain a strong faith when we ignore God or live like He is absent.
When we don’t sense God’s presence prayer becomes an exercise of calling for a lifeguard while treading water hoping somehow to stay afloat until He throws a life line. Doubt prevails that God hears, cares, and is near enough to respond. The truth remains. God is near. He is not an absent landlord. He is Lord, ever and always present in every Christian’s life. If you are unaware of God’s presence in your life, here are four ways you may grow in an awareness of God’s omni-presence:
- Thanks and Praise– Read Psalm 100:4. It speaks of gates and courts referring to the Temple in Jerusalem and its many gates and courts. The temple gates are associated with thanks to God and the temple courts with praise. The Temple itself is a metaphor for progressive intimacy with God and holiness. Thanks spills over into praise to God for the gift of his presence and grace. Thanks and praise are an appropriate responses to the Giver of all good gifts. Together they occasion a profound awareness of God’s steadfast faithfulness and presence in our lives.
- Means of Grace– John Wesley was fond of teaching and preaching about the presence of God experienced through what he called the means of grace. In a more modern expression we might call means of grace our “habits of the heart.” They are habits of piety – love of God (ie., worship, prayer, Bible reading, fellowship) and habits of mercy – love of others (ie., feeding the hungry, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned, helping widows and orphans). Wesley taught that through the means of grace we mature in our understanding of God’s identity and in our awareness of his presence.
- Christ at the Door– We read in Revelations 3:30, “Here I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Once you responded to his initial knock on your heart’s door. Now you may consciously consider Christ at the door each day, inviting you out into his day, his agenda, and his plan. As you walk each day in His presence, he engages you in fellowship.
- Practicing God’s Presence– Brother Lawrence was a seventeenth century monk who practiced the loving presence of God.He spent years disciplining his heart and mind to yield to God’s presence. He wrote, “As often as I could, I placed myself as a worshiper before him, fixing my mind upon his holy presence, recalling it when I found it wandering from him.” Lawrence did the mundane chores of the monastery continually mindful of God’s presence so that even the lowest, most humble work was completed in a spirit of worship.
God is always present. We aren’t always conscious of his presence and proximity. Yet he is so close. He desires even greater proximity. He desires to be more than near. He desires intimacy, the ultimate in proximity, the infilling of his Holy Spirit in us. You can’t be closer to God than being filled to the measure of fullness of his very Self. (Ephesians 3:19).
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8
Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus . . . Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full of assurance of faith. – Hebrews 10:19&22