PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD
P. Samuel Manoharam
After we have been saved by trusting the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, we need to walk ‘in the light’. To walk in the light is to act upon anything God shows us. Fellowship with God comes by walking ‘in the light’. God is light. He is holy. There is no darkness in Him. “If we say that we have fellowship with God and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1Jn.1:6). We cannot claim to be in fellowship with God if we do not have a holy relationship with Him.
Human Soul And God
A godly man has said, “The most perfect union with God is the actual presence of God. Although this relationship with God is totally spiritual, it is quite dynamic; because the soul is not asleep, but powerfully excited. It is livelier than fire and brighter than the unclouded sun.Yet, it is at the same time tender and devout. It is an inexpressible state of soul, which is gentle, peaceful, respectful, humble, loving and very simple that urges it to love God, to adore Him, and to embrace Him with both tenderness and joy.”
The human soul is united with God through a personal experience of salvation which is followed by a lifelong process by which the regenerated soul gets to know God better through a series of experiences, some of which draw the soul into close union with Him and some take it further away.
The Presence Of God
The presence of God in those who are born of Him becomes real to them when the concentration of their soul is on God. This awesome reality manifests itself in them as they experience a sweet and restful communion with God. In this rest, they develop a faith that equips them to handle any challenge they encounter. This is called the ‘actual presence’ of God in those who belong to Christ. They speak with God wherever they are, depend on Him for all their needs and rejoice in Him, as if no one else existed on the earth. Such a conversation with God occurs in the depth and centre of the soul. It is there that the soul speaks to God, heart to heart, and always dwells in a great and profound peace that the soul enjoys in God. Even amidst the disturbances, troubles and chaos of the world, the soul can retain its inward peace with God. The presence of God is life and nourishment to the soul, which is available through the grace of God.
Cultivating God’s Presence
It is impossible for anyone to practise the presence of God without first having a ‘born again’ experience which comes through a genuine act of repentance from sin followed by receiving God’s forgiveness offered freely in and through the Lord Jesus Christ who has reconciled mankind to God (Mk.1:15; Jn.1:12; Rom.3:22-26). This is the beginning of a new life with God in Christ (2Cor.5:17). A human life that is thus born of God needs to be cultivated, lest it falls into a dangerous rut and finally begins to rot like the life of an unregenerate human whom Paul describes in 2 Timothy 3:1-8. Having warned Timothy and all Christians everywhere about the grave danger of backsliding, Paul encourages them to follow his example, his way of life – purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings; he testifies to them how the Lord rescued him from the dangers he encountered while he focussed on God and practised God’s presence (3:10-17).
Delighting In God’s Presence
One who practises the presence of God finds great pleasure in God’s divine company. He is in constant c o m m u n i o n with God – through times of temptation, sorrow, sickness, pain, busy work schedule, and even when overtaken by sin. When we delight in this way in the presence of God, we can resist the devil and send him packing (Jas.4:7). During our busy schedule of activities and social interaction, it is important to pause for a few minutes to praise God, to thank Him and enjoy Him in our ‘secret chamber’ (Psa.27:4-5). What could please God more than the companionship of His children who set aside the cares of this world and delight in His presence?
According to the Oxford dictionary, the words ‘adore’ and ‘adoration’ convey a combined expression of love, worship and respect. Our adoration of God is an outcome of our faith – that He lives in our hearts, loves us and expects us to love and worship Him in spirit and in truth. Our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer God is indeed worthy of our adoration. When we adore God in spirit and truth, we acknowledge Him for who He is and remember who we are in Christ (Eph.1:3-8). The God we worship and adore is infinitely perfect and holy (Lev.11:44; Isa.6:3; Rev.4:8-11), who desires that we, His redeemed, worshipping children, also be holy as He is! (2Pet.3:11). Our God is aware of everything that happens to us, including the fact that we are vulnerable to satanic attacks, unless we choose to take shelter in Him. It is therefore imperative that we take note of the sins that beset us and cause us to fall, resisting them in Jesus’ Name. We cannot enjoy God’s presence while wilfully exposing ourselves to the allurements of the devil. For the Lord Jesus to have His way in our lives, we must banish from our hearts everything that does not reflect Him and His glory. Then, and only then will our adoration of Him delight His heart.
Everyone who practises God’s presence by obeying Him and walking before Him in holiness and righteousness not only enjoys God’s blessings himself, he also enjoys the privilege of being a ‘vessel’ whom God uses to bless others. When a child of God allows his faith to be activated by the Holy Spirit, as James explains in 2:14-26, God’s blessings descend on others. The Bible records hundreds of instances of God rewarding the faith and obedience of His people in various ways, and the history of the church is replete with the incredible testimonies of how God’s children proved His faithfulness, and continues to do so.
As God’s redeemed children, our principal endeavour must be to fully surrender to God Almighty, staying close to Him and glorifying Him in our thoughts, words and conduct. This is how we show our gratitude to God for His abundant love and inestimable grace towards us. “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. They only can comprehend it who practise and experience it.”