When I get up in the morning, I always know if my husband is still at home or if he has left for work. This is not visual, just a sense of his presence in the house, a common awareness for many people. We seem to “know” if we are alone or if someone else is nearby.
God made promises to His people about His presence. He said to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14) and to Joshua, “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).
Later, David also experienced God’s presence. For him, this was a reality that he had to think about before experiencing it.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8–11)
I’ve been like David in that I have needed to “set the Lord” before me. Then I read a book that talked about the presence of the Lord being something like the air around us. It is always there, whether we think about it or not and that is the same concerning God. Since then, the reality of God’s presence has not depended on any mental exercises on my part. Nor do I pray, “God, be with me” for I know that He is.
Jesus knew the importance of knowing the presence of the Lord. When He gave His disciples the command to go into all the world and make disciples, He included a promise, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Without that sense of Him being with me, I would not have the courage or the ability to obey Him. Much as even the simplest tasks seem easier with someone else to help or just be there, knowing God’ presence makes His commands doable. Not only that, He is an instant friend to talk to, shoulder to cry on, counselor to share problems with, and guide to help me see what is next. Even when I sin, He may seem somewhat farther away, but I know that He didn’t move; I did. His dear presence remains, encouraging me to repent and be restored.
Several theologians use the phrase, “Practice the presence of God” meaning to do what David did; set the Lord before you, remembering He is everywhere like air, but also near because He promised to never leave or forsake His people.
Lord, I don’t know what the day holds, but I do know that You are with me and will walk alongside me. Because of Jesus Christ and the reality of Your presence, I am at rest and my heart is glad. Praise Your name!