I’ve been known to sit staring blankly at my Bible, trying to feel God’s presence. You hear phrases like you need to ‘come away with Jesus to the secret place’. What exactly does that mean anyway? And then a baby starts crying and I scurry off wondering what exactly I got out of that moment. Do you relate?
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In a church worship service, I’ve sat staring at others who are obviously feeling something, with their hands out stretched or jumping up and down; and I’m sitting down dealing with a fussy baby who’s trying to rummage through handbag under our pew.
I’ve often compared these times to the past and especially in Papua New Guinea where I felt God’s presence so strongly and intensely, and wondered why nothing felt the same back in Australia.
A few older mentors in the church told me that we feel God’s presence differently in different seasons, but I fought that advice, instead wondering what was wrong with me. Had I sinned in some way, or judged someone in this area, then reaping that?
Now I’m inclined to believe there are many different ways that we feel God’s presence.
At times we can be exhausted and sinking into God’s presence is like a warm embrace of peace. This blog post explains what it is to ‘be still and know that I AM God’.
Often these days I have worship music playing and I pray and sing for 30 seconds and I find God’s presence around me, like a blanket.
At times God’s presence can be electric, as is often described in the Old Testament. Sometimes I shiver and others feel heat, and yet others shake like a leaf.
The disciples in Acts had flames of fire on their heads, talk about unusual.
I have heard it described as though warm oil were sprinkled across a congregation, every person would react differently; because the Holy Spirit is described as oil, and He is the one coming through the room.
God’s presence can sometimes make us cry or laugh and that’s ok because He knows that there are things in our lives that we shut in and His presence uncorks us so that we can let it out and experience healing. We might feel embarrassed but we can surrender to Him knowing that He only has good in store for us. And sometimes His presence can cause us to crash to the floor.
Sometimes God asks us to do ‘prophetic’ acts in order to move to a new level, or to teach us something. He often asked this of His Old Testament Prophets; take off your shoes, this is Holy Ground, or Moses holding his arms up to win the battle.
When we hold up our hands in worship it can be symbolic of surrender, or lifting our arms up to Papa God, like a child asking to be held. We can kneel or even lie down. I often lie down when I am having a time of spiritual soaking.
Then sometimes we can feel God’s presence more intensely when we are active. I love to dance with a tambourine, in sync with the drummer of course, and I always encouraged our Sunday School children to participate in the worship by dancing, sometimes with banners or ribbons. We find use of dance and banners all through the Bible and it can help us to focus on God.
Ultimately we should feel peace because . . .
He Himself is our peace Eph 2:14
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Photo Credit: Anne Taylor Photography
I have always felt God’s presence since I was born again. But it is in the quiet times or worship that I spend with Him that His presence is more tangible and I can hear His voice more clearly. His presence is a peace that just fills your heart and mind. It is a warmth and just makes me soften and want to cry.
There have been times where I haven’t “felt” the Lord as strongly and have had to seek deeper, wait longer or just trust in the Word He has given me for that time. As a new Christian at 16, a baby Christian, it was like I was continually aware of Him. I was hungry to hear from Him and He would speak Scriptures to me or the Holy Spirit would gently prompt me or reveal things to me and it would be exactly what I needed. I would receive words of encouragement from fellow believers.
As I walked with Jesus longer and matured it was harder to feel Him. But it was because I knew His Word and had to trust Him anyway, and stand upon the truth. However He would and does always touch me and speak to me whenever I need it or seek Him. Also since having children I have to sometimes get up earlier or stay up later just to have some quiet time with Jesus to hear Him. Lessons and revelations are shown to me through my children and my serving Jesus. Trusting and waiting on Him through each season. God is good. He is always faithful and has never failed me.