How to Personally Experience God When You Pray

How to Personally Experience God When You Pray

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Prayer is More Than a Monologue

What if your times of praying could become so much more than reciting some memorized words or listing requests from a prayer list?  What if your prayers could transport you into a holy place of sensing God’s glorious presence in a very real way?  What if you began having personal encounters with God every time you prayed?  Do you think it would change your prayer life?  Remember, our God invites each of us to experience intimate communion with Him every time we come to Him in prayer— yes, every time.

In our culture, you can pray before meals, pray for healing, pray for guidance, pray before you turn out the lights and tuck in your kids, you can fire off a quick prayer in a moment of distress, or pray out of religious duty in church on Sunday.  You can even pray memorized, rote prayers out of habit rather than intentionally trying to connect with God.  But biblical prayer is so much more than throwing some words toward heaven and hoping they stick.  God designed prayer to be our lifeline of continual connection and communion with Him.  And prayer is something you can do every day, as often as you desire, for as long as you want.  The choice is always up to you.  God does not require you to set up an appointment before coming to Him in prayer.

Steps to Encountering God in Prayer

So, if all of that is true, how can we experience God when we pray?  How can we revolutionize our prayer life into something we’ve always dreamed it would be?  Are there any tips or steps we can try that others who have been far more successful in prayer than we have used in the past?  Is there anything we can do to connect with God when we pray?

And the answer, of course, is yes.  There are some steps on how to pray that others have used for centuries that are proven to help you experience God when you pray.  Let me list just five of these.

   1. Preparing Our Hearts

Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Experiencing God’s presence starts with preparing our hearts before we rush in with our list of requests.  We must come to Him with clean hands and pure hearts (Psalm 24:3-4), having first surrendered any known sin in confession (1 John 1:9).  We must, for example, forgive others as He has forgiven us (Matt. 6:14-15, 18:21-35), which is often quite difficult— sometimes almost impossible.  But as we daily present ourselves as living sacrifices to Him (Rom. 12:1-2), the Holy Spirit transforms us and renews our minds to align more fully with God’s heart and priorities.  And when He does, the impossible becomes possible.  Try it for yourself.

   2. Entering His Presence

Next, as we come to God in prayer, we are to enter His presence by praising and worshipping Him (Psalm 100:4), focusing on His character, His mighty works, and His worthiness, no matter how uncomfortable this may make you feel.  We are to proclaim back to Him the truths about Him from Scripture as we exalt His name.  Then, we surrender control by getting our eyes off ourselves and onto Him.  And as we wait in stillness before Him, opening our spiritual ears in expectation of what He wants to say (Psalm 46:10, 62:1), He makes us keenly aware of His presence in a way that fills us with peace (Phil. 4:6-7), joy (Psalm 16:11), and spiritual strength to carry on, no matter our circumstances (Isaiah 40:31).  It’s like a breath of fresh air.

   3. Two-Way Conversation

After this, prayer then becomes an amazing two-way conversation.  We speak to Him, and we listen for His still, small voice in return (1 Kings 19:11-13)— although sometimes His voice is not so still and not so small.  He can, after all, communicate with us in any way He desires (think fire and smoke on Mount Sinai).

So we make our requests known to Him as our loving Father (Matt. 6:8, 7:7-11), while honestly expressing our thoughts and emotions to Him without fear (Psalm 62:8).  There is nothing we are going to tell God that He doesn’t already know, including how we feel at the moment.  We can ask questions about His Word or will and receive answers by the Spirit (John 16:13-15).  We wait patiently in His presence for impressions, revelations, scriptures, ideas, verbal words, or internal promptings as He speaks to our inner being about the concerns of our hearts in whatever way He chooses.  We just have to be patient and wait for Him to speak.  There is no rushing the Lord— He speaks when He is ready.

And then, when He does, we respond to what we’ve heard or sensed from Him, asking questions to make sure we understand fully, writing down what we never want to forget, and waiting again for more of His wisdom.  This two-way communion fuels our love for Him, and we learn to recognize His voice the more we spend time in His presence.  This experience with Him almost becomes addictive, which is not a bad thing.

   4. Jesus-Centered Petitions

After aligning our own hearts with the Father in worship and two-way conversation, we’re now ready to intercede for others.  As we lift people and circumstances by name, we base our petitions on Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and not on the worthiness, merit, or spiritual maturity of the ones we are praying for.  We ask in faith according to His will (1 John 5:14-15), with complete confidence in His compassion and power to always do what is best in every circumstance (Rom. 8:28).  We pray, knowing His Word always accomplishes His purposes (Isaiah 55:11), which allows us to come into agreement with what is on His heart for each person and situation (Matt. 18:19-20), rather than telling God what we think should happen and getting petty when it doesn’t work out the way we prayed.  Finally, and with great joy, we release each one into His hands for His perfect will to unfold in His perfect time.  We bring our concerns about others to Him, and leave them there.  This is what it means to pray to a sovereign God.

   5. Childlike Boldness

Jesus said He would answer prayers that were prayed, “in My name” (John 16:23-24).  To pray in Jesus’ name means to come before God with the full authority given to us as children of God and to pray according to His will, or to pray what Jesus would have prayed if He was still walking with us on earth (John 5:14-15).  Just as a child asks something of their loving father based on their relationship rather than on their merit, we can now boldly approach God’s throne of grace in full assurance of His love and acceptance as His children (Heb. 4:16), gaining confidence to ask Him for anything and everything on our hearts.

While God delights to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), He also gives us what He knows is best when our desires don’t align with His greater plans— which, unfortunately, often happens, at least with me.  And as we learn to trust Him fully in childlike dependence, He fills us with supernatural peace and joy during every circumstance— whether it’s good, bad, or horrific.


Remember, God designed prayer for continual connection and communion with Him because He longs for an unbroken relationship with us, or for us to “abide” in Him (John 15:4).  As we learn to pray with a clean heart, enter His presence in worship, listen for His voice in a two-way conversation, intercede in Jesus’ name for others, and come to Him with childlike boldness, we will experience His presence in ways that transform our everyday lives.

God promises when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).  So why would we settle for anything less than experiencing His incredible presence whenever we pray?  Why, like Esau, are we content with a bowl of stew when we have the inheritance of the firstborn?  Determine today that you won’t just say distant prayers “about” God, but will earnestly seek Him through prayer until you encounter and experience Him personally.  And as you taste and see His goodness (Psalm 34:8), you’ll agree that time spent experiencing Him in conversation is the best time of your day— hands down.

So don’t waste another prayer.  Get started today.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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588:  Be Encouraged by the Small Words in Scripture

588: Be Encouraged by the Small Words in Scripture

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Three Small Words from John 15

In John 15, Jesus lays out our position in Christ and the key or path to the Higher Christian Life in the story of a vine and its branches.  I mean, it really couldn’t be more clear.  This key is found in the simple word abide.   We are to abide in Him— which means “to rest, remain, dwell, to make our home.”  Or, literally, “to be united as one with Him in heart, mind, and will.”  It is the definition of a fully surrendered life.

Yet before we discover the concept of abiding in verse 5, we first must move through the first three verses of John 15, which often present a disturbing picture of God as our Father and is, more often than not, misinterpreted by well-meaning preachers and Bible scholars.  And by misunderstanding the definition of three key words— takes away, prunes, and clean— we can fail to find the amazing encouragement Jesus offers those who are not quite up to meeting His standard of faithfulness or righteousness.

Takes Away, Prunes, and Clean

So, let’s look at these three verses as they are found in our Bibles, compare them to what they say in Greek, and see if something is “lost in translation.”

“I am the true (real, genuine, one who cannot lie) vine, and My Father is the vinedresser (farmer, one who tills the earth or ground)” – John 15:1

This simply sets the stage and introduces the cast of characters:

God = Vinedresser
Jesus = Vine
We = Branches of the Vine (John 15:5)

He continues,

“Every (pás) branch (where) in Me (Christ, vine) that does not bear (to bring, carry, have) fruit He (Father, vinedresser) takes away (aírō – G142); and every (pás) branch (implied, in Me) that bears (to bring, carry, have) fruit He (Father, vinedresser) prunes (kathaírō G2508), (why) that it may bear (to bring, carry, have) more fruit” – John 15:2

We are now introduced to the first two of our three important words: aírō and kathaírō.  The third one, katharós, is found in verse 3.

“You are already clean (katharós – G2513) because of the word which I have spoken to you” – John 15:3

Three Key Words

We now have three Greek words that we need to define to see if our English translation does them justice.  And I think, after you see the definitions for yourself, you will see it does not.

From The New Testament Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhaites:

“takes away” – (aírō – G142)

This word is translated as “takes away” in our English Bibles.  But that is not what it means.

prunes – (kathaírō G2508)

And this word is translated as “prunes” in our English Bibles.  And, yet again, that is not what it means in the Greek.

clean – (katharós – G2513)

Finally, this word is correctly translated as “clean.”   So now, what does this verse look like?

Vine and the Branches

The Vinedresser, our Father, no longer takes away unfruitful branches but lifts them up, supports them, and helps them once again become fruitful, just like a natural farmer would do to his crops.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch (where) in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away (takes up, lifts up, elevates, to rise);

In a phrase, he builds a trellis to support the fallen branches of His vine.

But it gets better.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch (where) in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away (takes up, lifts up, elevates, to rise); and every branch (implied, in Me) that bears fruit He prunes (to clean, make pure and unsoiled), that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean (pure, clean, without stain or spot, to be cleansed from filth, to purify) because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

Now, verse three seems to make sense as the Vinedresser cleans the fruitful branches to make them more fruitful and then states His disciples do not need that form of cleaning since they are already clean by the words Christ has spoken to them.

Be Encouraged

There is so much more to these three words than we can reveal in this post.  To understand more fully, please listen to the podcast and follow along with the PowerPoint slides above.

And be encouraged, you who do not, nor have not, lived a perfect life.  God doesn’t take you away when you sin.  He lifts you up, strengthens you, and puts you in a better position not to sin and become fruitful once again.  I hope this has put a smile on your face, because I am still smiling… from ear to ear.

Isn’t this just like our Father?

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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587: The Purpose of the Christian Life – Experiencing God

587: The Purpose of the Christian Life – Experiencing God

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The Problem: Dry Ritual Without Relationship

For many believers, Christianity has become a religion of rules devoid of a relationship.  We know we should have a quiet time, serve in church, avoid sin, and so on.  But all this outward conformity easily lacks the inward reality of actually connecting with God.  We act spiritual, without ever experiencing the presence of the Spirit.  And that is a sad, yet common experience for many today.

How did this happen?  Partly because we’ve made faith all about knowledge over an encounter with God.  We prize book learning, doctrinal precision, and intellectual comprehension of Scripture— forgetting you can memorize the Bible and miss the Lord of the Bible.  Information in our heads doesn’t necessarily lead to transformation in our hearts.  Why?  Because head knowledge alone breeds pride, heart encounters with Christ breed authentic life change.

The Pattern: Experiencing God Transforms Us

Yet Scripture shows us a better way.  When Moses saw the burning bush, he experienced God’s awe-inspiring presence (Exodus 3).  After Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, he walked with a limp— an everyday reminder of his personal encounter with God (Gen. 32:22-32).  And when Isaiah had a powerful vision of God on his throne, he was utterly transformed forever (Isaiah 6).

For early followers of Jesus, faith wasn’t a dead tradition, but a living, vibrant relationship.  Acts 2:42 says the early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  These early disciplines led to a powerful encounter with the Lord: “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (v. 43).  Even repentance is meant to be an encounter, as we turn from sin and into the forgiving arms of Christ.

The Invitation: Taste and See Jesus

This is God’s invitation to us: not just to know about Him, but to experience Him— to taste His goodness and to know that He is good (Psalm 34:8).  And as we behold the Lord’s glory, we are transformed into His image (2 Cor 3:18), which is the goal of the Christian life.  The more we experience His presence and power, the more we reflect Christ to the world.

So, what areas of your faith have become dry rituals rather than genuine encounters with the Living God?  Consider these aspects of the Christian life that are meant to connect us with God:

Experiencing God’s Presence in Worship

Worship isn’t just singing songs or listening to a praise band— it’s meeting with the Lord, captivated by His beauty.  Through worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24), we experience God’s presence in a life-changing way.

Experiencing God’s Power in Trials

Even our trials can lead us into deeper encounters with God’s peace (Phil. 4:6-7), comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4), and strength that carries us through.  As we turn to Him, we experience His sustaining grace.

Experiencing God’s Character Through the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) are not just moral qualities.  No, as we walk in step with the Spirit, He produces His fruit in our lives, whereby we experience His patience, joy, and kindness from the inside out.

The Invitation: Draw Near to God

God promises if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (Jam. 4:8).  So the ball is in our court.  Will you accept His invitation?  Will you ask the Lord for fresh encounters with Him, pray daily to behold His beauty, and let your head knowledge fuel your pursuit of heart change through experiencing Jesus?

Remember, God invites us into an intimate walk with Him, where we encounter His presence daily through prayer, worship, Scripture, and simply seeking Him.  As we taste and see His goodness, we are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory.  So, let’s shed religious rule-keeping and wholeheartedly pursue a relationship with Him.  Let’s draw near to Jesus today, and every day, expecting divine encounters that change our hearts, fuel our worship, compel us to share about Him, and ultimately fulfill our deepest purpose— which is to know and experience God through Christ our Lord.

So what are you waiting for?

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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586:  Experiencing True Repentance from Psalm 51

586: Experiencing True Repentance from Psalm 51

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How to Experience God Through Repentance

In our quest for a deeper relationship with the Lord, we have been talking about what genuine repentance looks like in real-time.  And we found ourselves in the middle of Psalm 51, examining six key words in David’s prayer of repentance that show us how to not only receive forgiveness from the Lord, but how to experience His presence in the process.  And, as a reminder, the six key words found in Psalm 51:10-12 are as follows:

Please DoCreate in me a clean heart, O God, and
Please Dorenew a steadfast spirit within me.
Please Don’tDo not cast me away from Your presence, and
Please Don’tdo not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Please DoRestore to me the joy of Your salvation, and
Please Douphold me by Your generous Spirit.

But what do these words mean?  And how do they point us to a deeper Christian life of experiencing His presence when we come to Him in repentance?

(You, God) Create in Me a Clean Heart

After being confronted by the prophet Nathan, David pleads,

“(You) Create (bārāʾ – to bring into existence, to create out of nothing, ex nihilo) in me (personal) a clean (ṭāhôr – clean, pure, genuine, free from moral impurity) heart (lēḇ – the immaterial part of man, the seat of a person’s mind, will, knowledge, volition, and emotions), O God (ʾelōhiym – the One True God, the Creator and Sustainer, the Sovereign One).”

He understood that he couldn’t make himself righteous through willpower alone.  No, David needed God to create something completely new in Him that he couldn’t do by himself.  The word “create” means to make something out of nothing, just as God created the universe by His word.

Likewise, we need the Lord to give us a pure, undefiled heart when we come to Him in repentance.  On our own, we can’t clean up the mess inside us.  God must perform heart surgery, transforming us from the inside out as we yield ourselves to Him.

(You, God) Renew a Steadfast Spirit Within Me

David also prays,

and (You) renew (ḥāḏaš – to restore, reestablish on a new or improved basis, to revitalize and make new or like new) a steadfast (kûn – to be marked by firm determination or resolution, to be unshakeable, to stand upright) spirit (rûaḥ) within me (personal).”

Though God cleansed David’s heart previously, he lost that wonderful experience through sin.  Now David asks God to restore what was lost, to “renew” and reestablish the steadfast spirit he once had.  David now understands he needs help staying firmly rooted in his commitment to the Lord because, left on his own, he will once again fail.

When we walk in sin and disobedience, we become spiritually unstable, often losing our zeal for God’s kingdom.  But through repentance, God renews our spirit, revitalizing our passion for Christ and His righteousness.

(You, God) Do Not Cast Me Away From Your Presence

Haunted by his grievous offenses, David worries about losing fellowship with God.  So he implores the Lord to,

“(You) Do not cast (šālaḵ – to throw, fling, to toss casually away, to dispose of) me (personal) away from Your (God) presence (pāniym – face, being before or in front of someone, proximity), and (You) do not take (lāqaḥ – grasp, seize, take away) Your Holy (qōḏeš – sacred, sanctified, set apart and consecrated to God) Spirit (rûaḥ) from me (personal).”

David fears being flung from God’s presence like worthless garbage because of his sin.  And we too, like David, must zealously guard our relationship with the Holy Spirit, who now permanently indwells believers under the new covenant.  Through Him, God makes His home in our hearts.  Sin still grieves and quenches the Spirit today, distancing us from intimate fellowship with God.  Thus, we must continually rely on Christ’s blood to cleanse our conscience and keep our access to the Father through the Spirit open and unhindered.

Restore to Me the Joy

David also prays,

“(You) Restore (šûḇ – to turn, return, to back, do again, to bring back into original existence, use, function or position) to me (personal) the joy (śāśôn – exultation, gladness, rejoicing, jubilation, an emotion of great happiness and pleasure) of Your (God’s) salvation (yēšaʿ – deliverance, rescue, help, preservation, the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil),”

David isn’t worried about losing his salvation.  Rather, he wants the delight and gladness that should flow from his salvation by God to overflow again.  He remembers the exuberance that once accompanied his walk with the Lord, but now, his tank feels empty.  He longs for that joy to bubble up afresh to energize his pursuit of Christ.

Many of us need to plead David’s prayer in our own life.  Do you “rejoice with exultation” over the salvation graciously extended to you in Christ (1 Peter 1:6, 8-9)?  Does your heart swell when reflecting on the wonder of being delivered by God from sin and condemnation?  If not, cry out to Him as David did.  Ask God to “restore to me the joy of Your salvation!”  Ask Him to unclog anything hindering the river of joy that should water your soul.

Uphold Me by Your Spirit

Finally, after begging for inner cleansing and transformation, David requests the Spirit’s ongoing sustaining grace:

and (You) uphold (sāmaḵ – sustain, support, bear up, establish, to supply with everything needed) me (personal) by (what) Your (God’s) generous (nāḏiyḇ – willing, noble, an attitude of heart that consents or agrees, magnanimous, is disposed or inclined towards, gladly willing) Spirit (rûaḥ).”

Even with a renewed heart, David knows he will stumble again without the Spirit’s help.  He needs the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide him to live faithfully before God and walk uprightly according to God’s truth.

And like David, you and I desperately require the Spirit’s daily empowerment to put sin to death and mirror Christ in our lives.  As Paul explains, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  So make it your continual prayer to depend completely on Him to uphold and steer you along righteous paths for God’s glory.

The Pathway to Restoration

We all need times of intensive spiritual repair and revival to realign our affections with Christ.  And God uses genuine repentance to bring us back to Himself.  But true repentance requires ruthless honesty, not superficial lip service.  So follow David’s example.  Pour out your heart before God.  Confess ways your love has grown cold.  Ask the Spirit to cleanse, renew, and uphold you afresh through His indwelling power.  Then, walk forward in newness of life and joy.

And go tell someone what God has done in your life.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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The Agony of Losing God’s Presence in Your Life

The Agony of Losing God’s Presence in Your Life

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Repentance — What it Is and What it Ain’t – Part Three

In Psalm 51:11, David pleads with God, saying, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”  This one-sentence prayer, part of David’s prayer of repentance to God, reveals a sobering spiritual reality we need to understand, namely, it is possible for God to remove His blessed presence from our lives.  Let that sink in for a moment.  It is possible to no longer experience the intimate relationship, deep friendship, and even family closeness with God that we once knew.  And to lose the close fellowship of God’s Spirit is to lose His guidance, empowerment, and the joy of His salvation working mightily within us.

No one who once knew God wants to reach a point where they can no longer feel His presence or hear His voice— and, I mean, no one.

What Does Losing God’s Presence Mean?

To be out of God’s presence means to no longer have His spiritual fellowship and blessing over our lives.  It means we have forfeited any intimate communion with Him and can no longer experience the comfort, direction, purpose, and power that comes from His Spirit dwelling richly within us.  And it’s a lonely, dark, miserable, and depressing place to be.

Tragically, in the book of Judges, we see this described in Samson’s life.  Though freakishly strong, Samson lost the blessing of God’s presence and power to work through him as a leader over Israel because of his lust and sin.  And his lack of obedience to God’s standards of holiness, along with his blatant disregard for God’s purpose in his life, resulted in his tragic public downfall.

Samson’s sad example warns us not to presume upon God’s abiding presence to always be with us, irrespective of how we choose to walk before Him.  Remember, sin and disobedience have consequences, both in this life and in the life to come.  And our unrepented and persistent sin and rebellion can, and will, easily quench and grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), putting a great gulf between us and joyful fellowship with God (1 Thess. 5:19).  I mean, why should we expect to relish in the joy of His approval and presence when our actions show our complete rejection of His standards and ways?  It just doesn’t work that way.

Let me give you a few examples to prove this point.

Biblical Examples of Losing God’s Presence

Scripture contains several sobering examples of God’s people forfeiting His blessed presence for a season because of their sin and rebellion against Him.

•   Israel’s refusal to enter the Promised Land because of fear and unbelief resulted in 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

•   King Solomon’s turning to idol worship because of his many foreign wives led to God’s promise to tear the kingdom away from his descendants.

•   Saul’s pride, envy, and independence from God’s word resulted in losing the kingdom and his reign as king over Israel to David.

•   And even David lost the joy of his salvation after his sin against Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.  Yet He found forgiveness and restoration only after fully repenting, without excuses (Psalm 51).

Through these accounts and others, we learn how unchecked, besetting sins can earn God’s discipline and the chastisement of withdrawing His presence from those He loves in order to bring them back into a relationship with Him.

The Agony of Divine Abandonment

To grasp the gravity of this loss of His presence, consider the very first biblical example: Adam and Eve being banished from Eden and God’s presence after their sin and rebellion.  We see their heartbreaking exile from God’s presence in Genesis 3:23-24: “Therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden.  So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Now, no longer able to walk with God “in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8), Adam and Eve, and all humanity after them, faced toil, pain, hardship, and death outside of God’s protective presence.  Similarly, Cain faced wandering and fear as a “fugitive and vagabond on the earth” after murdering his brother Abel (Gen. 4:12).  The loss of the safety and security of God’s intimate presence left him isolated and alone, which was not God’s original plan for their lives, and not a good place to be— ever.

What Life is Like Without God’s Presence

Losing the fellowship of God’s Spirit dramatically affects every area of life.  We may struggle with feelings of isolation, anxiety, aimlessness, despair, and debilitating guilt.  Without access to God’s wisdom and perspective, we fall victim to poor decision-making, with moral confusion not far behind.  Our spiritual vitality evaporates, leaving behind deadness, dryness, and powerlessness in its wake.  We become just a living shell of what we once were when we could experience the presence of God in our lives.

Indeed, shutting ourselves off from the Source of life has tragic consequences that touch every aspect of our lives.  So, we must carefully guard against anything that could earn the removal of such an infinitely precious gift.

Restoring God’s Abiding Presence

The good news is that Scripture offers hope for restoration through genuine repentance.  Just as “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5), so God promises that if we draw near to Him, He will forgive, forget, and graciously reciprocate and draw near to us once again (James 4:8).  No matter how far we have strayed through our disobedience, it is not too far nor too late to reclaim the blessings of His abiding presence.

But how is this done?  How can we experience God once again?

By examining the accounts of divine forgiveness and restoration in Scripture, we can uncover some spiritual principles to apply in reclaiming God’s manifest presence:

Examine Your Heart Before God:  Invite His searching gaze to reveal any areas of offense that may be hindering close fellowship, such as unforgiveness, pride, or secret sins (Psalm 139:23-24).

Confess Everything Completely:  Hold nothing back from God (like He doesn’t know already?).  Agree with Him about the true ugliness of your sins, calling them what Scripture calls them, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4, 1 John 1:9, 1 Samuel 15:23).

Repent Thoroughly and Honestly:  Turn away from all that offends God and turn wholeheartedly towards Him in submission and obedience to His complete Lordship over every area in your life.  Again, hold nothing back from God, give Him everything (John 14:15, Romans 8:13).

Walk Accountably:  Surround yourself with wise, merciful companions who will help you persevere in living uprightly and fruitfully before God (Hebrews 10:24-25).  Don’t try to go it alone.  After all, it didn’t work the first time, did it?

By applying these biblical strategies, you can find healing, hope, and restoration in your walk with Christ.  And by His astonishing grace (which I still can’t comprehend), He invites us to come freely and find the refreshing rivers of His presence flowing freely once again in the wastelands of our lives.

Standing Ready to Welcome Us Home

Never forget that we serve an incredibly merciful and compassionate God who stands ready to lavish His presence abundantly upon all who seek Him.  He yearns for reconciliation even more than we do.  Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son reminds us that the Father is constantly looking expectantly down that road for signs of His wayward child returning home.  And when He catches sight of us finally turning back, He runs to embrace us, fully restoring all that was lost in that painful absence (Luke 15:11-32).

What wondrous love is this— that our God never gives up on us, regardless of how far we stray?  He graciously disciplines those He loves to spur our return to Him freely and wholeheartedly (Revelation 3:19).  And understanding both the blessings of walking in God’s presence and the agony of losing that gift, He offers us a powerful motivation to pursue intimate fellowship with God above all else.

By His grace, may we fervently guard our hearts against anything that could earn separation from the One who is Life itself— the loving Lord Jesus Christ.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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