What Does It Mean to Be in the Presence of God?


Christians have this weird language. Some of it is birthed out of tradition and culture but some of the words we use are actually found in the Bible. Those, especially those require interpretation. Many people (including ourselves) have no idea what we are talking about when we say certain words or phrases and it’s important for us to know what we mean so we can mean what we say.

Recently, a dear friend asked me to explain what it means to be “in the presence of God.” She knew the answer but was asked by a new believer and wanted to process how to explain it. I was so thankful to have been asked. Because although it’s something I talk about and pray about, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down to think about it means.

Immediately Psalm 139 came to mind. King David speaks about the presence of God being inescapable. He is everywhere at all times. Not only is he in every physical space, he is in our thoughts and knows them from a place that transcends space and time, before a word is even on our tongues.

In my words, this presence of God is when we are awakened to the reality of Jesus in our lives.

It could be a sweet awakening or a swift smack upside the head that begins with some sort of crisis. Regardless of how, the presence of God awakens us to something bigger than ourselves and leaves us longing for that bigger thing. A longing that is Jesus and a longing he desires to meet with himself.

It is awareness of grace and mercy. It is found in the love of a friend, the forgiveness offered to us, or the unexplained forgiveness we have to offer those who have hurt us.

It is peace. At times an unexplainable peace that makes no sense considering the situation we find ourselves in.

The presence of God can also explained in John 4 with the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well. As the conversation progresses Jesus reveals himself to her.

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26)

The presence of God reveals the person of Jesus as God and man, meanwhile revealing who we are without him and who we are meant to be with him.

We are often aware of it in the company of others which is why we are encouraged to gather together. It is sensed in the awe of his creation when you drive into places like the valley floor of Yosemite or the central coast of California, or surf the big waves of Hawaii. Yet we can become acutely aware of it in the silence of our loneliness, on our knees or in the darkest hours of the night.

Yes, the presence of God is being awakened to all of this. The reality that Jesus lives, breathes life and moves among us. Not just one time, one Sunday morning, one tearful night, but anytime you suddenly know that He is here and in the depths of your soul you know can no longer ignore Him.

Our journey of understanding, like so much our faith, grows deeper as we walk forward together. I would like to learn from you…How would you explain it?