“The meaning of the omnipresence of God”

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 236

Do you believe that God is present with you all the time?

I am listening to the Audible version of A. W. Tozer’s book, “The knowledge of the holy”. Once or twice a week I listen to a chapter before going out to pray and use the theme as the foundation to my devotional time with God. This morning’s chapter was on the omnipresence of God. Today I will bring you some reflections on this theme.

If God is God he must be omnipresent. This we can take as an intellectual fact. However, the question is whether this presence remains an intellectual thought, or becomes personal. Surely God intended to be a personal experience.

The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.” (Psalm 89:15 NIV11) God’s personal presence with us is not a New Testament concept. However, it is a more powerful and intimate experience. Why? Because God came in flesh:

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18 NIV11)

Jesus promised us a far more powerful, permanent experience of the presence of the Father: “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23 NIV11)

Father, Son and Spirit all have made their home in us: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11 NIV11)

Why might we struggle with recognising and experiencing his presence as much as we would like to? Doubtless there are many possible answers to this, but for today I suggest two.

1. God respects our choices. Because he loves us, he allows us to choose to be conscious of his presence. In this sense he is unobtrusive. Always present, but never insistent on being noticed. He is always willing for us to connect with him, but he needs inviting.

2. Our pain may obscure our awareness of his presence. I am reminded of an illustration in the book, “Interior castle” by Theresa of Avila. Let me adapt her thought. Imagine yourself in a room with close friends. Someone turns out the lights and you find yourself in a pitch black room. You know that you are still in the presence of your friends, but you cannot see them. If you are attentive, you can still be conscious of their presence. But if you become overwhelmed by the darkness, you may forget they are there.

What does this mean for us? At least the following:

* Gods promises are with us all the time, therefore we can live without being controlled by our fears. Complete confidence is ours.
* God’s joy is with us all the time, therefore we can, at any time, experience his joy no matter what is going on.
* God’s peace is with us all the time, therefore we can, at any time, experience his peace no matter what is going on in or around us.

It is true we do not feel this or experience it all the time. As Tozer puts it:

“As a child might cry out in pain even while sheltered in its mother’s arms, so a Christian may sometimes know what it is to suffer even in the conscious presence of God.” Chapter 14

Nonetheless, it is a wonderful comfort to know that God’s presence is not dependent on my awareness of his existence. I can trust he is with me all the time no matter what else is going on. His presence is not dependent on my sinlessness, nor my awareness. My prayer is that I will grow in both my willingness to acknowledge his presence, and a valuing of his presence more and more during my average days.

Question for the week: “Which spiritual practices help you to be more aware of God’s presence with you during your normal day?”

One other thing.

I am preparing a teaching series on prayer for the Thames Valley churches of Christ. We begin next week. If you would like people to know one thing about prayer, what would that be? If you would like to learn one thing about prayer, what might that be? Please drop me a line with your thoughts: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John