I imagine most people who believe in God would agree that they would like to have more of His presence in their lives, not less. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more of an awareness that the God who created the heavens and the earth was by your side, each moment of every day? Think about how this would change your life! This is not only possible, it’s what you were made for. You were created to experience an intimate relationship with a personal God.
In a general sense, anyone who places faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and trusts Him to be their Savior has God with them. However, this initial act of faith does not guarantee a strong awareness of His presence, as anyone who has taken this step can attest. It doesn’t come automatically. An awareness of the presence of God must be cultivated.
Why does God make it a challenge to sense Him and feel Him? I believe that He wants you to really want Him. God will not be found by someone who is merely interested. Merely a browser. He will only be found by someone who sincerely wants to find Him. The prophet Jeremiah put it this way in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all yourheart.” If God is to be found and His presence cultivated, it will take determination, passion, focus, and energy.
Let me stir your heart to seek Him…
The Presence of God brings true joy and satisfaction.
I like what King David said in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Your soul was made for God. Your mind, desires, will, and body were created to be focused and centered on Him. When God is the prize of your life, true joy floods the soul. David wrote again in Psalm 21:6, “…you make him glad with the joy of your presence.”
The Presence of God delivers you from fear.
Fear is a reality of life and can paralyze you. If Joshua would have given in to fear, he wouldn’t have led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Where did he get his courage to face the fortified cities and the giants? Listen to what God said to him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Knowing that God was with him banished all fear!
The Presence of God brings success.
I don’t mean success by the world’s standards. Instead, I’m referring to the sense that we do all that God planned for us to do with our lives. I love what was recorded in 2 Kings 18:7 about King Hezekiah, “So the LORD was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.” The same was said about Joseph (Genesis 39:2-3) and David (1 Samuel 18:14). When God is with you, He ensures that what you doing will work out! He will open doors and provide for you and you live and walk in His presence.
Now that I have stirred your passions a bit, let’s talk about how to cultivate the Presence of God.
1. Become more aware of God’s presence by creating space.
You cannot become more aware of His presence without quieting your soul. Dallas Willard said, “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.” You need time and space to hear God clearly. When we are always on the go, moving from task to task with the ear buds in, email open, television blasting, and social media buzzing, God is left in the background. Listen to what Jesus did according to Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Why was it solitary? Simply, he was removing the distractions so that He could focus on God. You and I should do the same at least once a day if not more. And then we need to do it for extended times. It is during these times when we can hear and sense God more clearly.
2. Become more aware of God’s presence by obeying His Word.
A key spiritual principle is that God makes Himself known and reveals His presence to those who choose to obey His word. Jesus explained it this way, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (John 14:21) The word “reveal” means to appear in person! How cool is that? God shows Himself to those who are willing to obey because their obedience reveals their love for Him. In this sense, God is just like you and me. He is drawn to those who love Him.
3. Become more aware of God’s presence by getting outside.
Since God created everything, getting outside into nature helps us become more aware of Him. The trees, wind, birds, animals, smells, and the warmth of the sun all point to Him. Through the night sky, God helps us to see Him. David points this out in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) God’s creation is always speaking to us about who He is and how glorious and powerful and creative He is.
4. Become more aware of God’s presence by talking to Him.
Outside of the Bible, one of the best books I have ever read is The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. The book explained to me how to turn my inner conversation I was having with myself into a conversation with God. This, of course, is prayer. The book is the best explanation of what Paul encouraged all believers to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “…pray without ceasing.” When we turn our inner conversation into a conversation with God, it brings Him into our lives like nothing else can. You can literally talk to Him about everything that is going on all the time. As you get better and better at this, you begin to hear Him speak back to you. And this, my friends, is what you were created for.
God invites you to seek Him. He makes it possible to find Him and to enjoy Him. My hope and prayer for you are that you will do just that. He is waiting.
Danny Anderson is the Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Church located south of Indianapolis. Danny has hands-on experience in transitioning a church, creating and casting a new vision, simplifying programs, building teams, and launching new campuses. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Jackie, his sons Andrew and Beau, and his daughter Ruby.