Why should we fast and pray for God’s presence? After all, His presence is everywhere, isn’t it?
By Ron Myer
A few months ago I was driving home from ministering to a group of small group leaders. I had encouraged them in the task of expanding the kingdom of God in their locality. They were doing a good work, and it was exciting to be with them.
At the time I was on a fast, which was difficult because they had offered me breakfast and a wonderful lunch which I graciously declined. Why is it when the Lord calls you into a fast, all of a sudden there are multiple opportunities to eat all kinds of scrumptious food? It always seems to work that way for me.
Is my timing that bad or is it the Lord wanting to protect me from extra food that my body really doesn’t need? Or maybe it is just a test to see if I am really committed to fasting.
Whatever the case, I was praying as I was driving along. I began to sense that the Lord was calling us, DOVE churches in the USA, to enter into a week-long fast together. I felt impressed that we should be fasting for two things—a greater manifestation of His presence and a greater release of evangelism. Why would the Lord want us as a group of churches to fast and pray for His presence? I wondered. After all, His presence is everywhere, isn’t it? How can we increase that?
King David, who was continually seeking after God, wrote this in the Psalm 139:
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:7-10 NKJ).
It sounds like there is no way to escape His presence. So what is all the hype about the presence of the Lord about? Why should we give up food for more of God’s presence?
All I can say is that there is something about His presence. I know in my heart that everywhere I am, He is, because the Holy Spirit lives inside me. But there is something wonderful and powerful about feeling Him, going beyond the knowledge of His being there, to knowing and sensing His being there.
Let me say it this way. I can be sitting in my living room with my family while reading the newspaper. My presence is in the room. If anyone called and asked for me, whoever answered the phone would say, “Yes, he’s here.”
But it is an entirely different story when we are interacting as a family in the living room. I am wrestling with Brian on the floor (he is the only one of the boys that I can still beat!) and joking with Duane as he is telling Brian to put a different move on Dad. Mark is throwing out one-liners, and we are all laughing. My presence is the same as it was before. Yet, the feeling, interaction and awareness of my being there is totally different. In a sense, there is an increase of my presence in the room. I am communicating with my family, touching them, connecting with their emotions, interacting with them.
I think we can draw some parallels with God. We can say that when we talk about His presence, we are talking about His interaction with us. Listen to the interaction between Moses and the Lord right before Moses asks the Lord to show him His glory:
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you…The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him,“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:13-16).
Moses is asking the Lord to teach him His ways. That should be the cry of each of our hearts. Lord, teach us Your ways that we may know You. We learn to know about the Lord by reading the Word, but we really get to know the Lord by spending time in His presence or interacting with Him. Asking for a greater release of His presence is asking for more interaction with Him. Moses asks the most important question: “What else will distinguish us from other people on the earth?” It had to be the presence of the Lord. Moses was so concerned about this aspect that he said, “I don’t even want to go into all that you have promised us unless we have your presence with us.” That was how important God’s presence was to him.
This Changes Everything
As we interact with the Lord, His presence, His interaction with us, changes everything. People are touched by the Lord. People who have experienced hard hearts are softened by His presence. His presence dissolves the unimportant and brings to light things that are important.
One time as I met with two couples who were experiencing difficulties in their relationship, I advised the couples to write down their concerns. The next time we met, I said, “Let’s first spend some time in the presence of the Lord.” We had a wonderful time praying and worshiping, and the Lord spoke prophetically as He interacted with us. I then asked the couples to share what they felt concerning their relationship. I will never forget what happened next. They said, “In light of everything that just took place, all of these concerns seem rather insignificant right now.” The presence of the Lord changed their minds and their hearts.
When I am having a stressful day, I need to get into His presence even more. I need to know that He is not only there with me, but is interacting with me. When I am facing a challenge, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, His presence can change everything. Sometimes the situation doesn’t change, but my perspective does. It is brought into focus, and I am changed. Other times, the actual situation changes.
It’s going to be all right, Ron!
One day, I was facing a very painful situation in our family. I was praying, literally crying out to the Lord. As I stood there with my eyes closed, I saw Him reach out with His hand, rustle my hair, and say, “It’s going to be all right, Ron!” It impacted me greatly. While the next few weeks were still difficult, I hung on to what I saw in my mind, and heard Him say. Things did turn out okay. But it was while I was in His presence that hope and courage was poured out.
Have you been in His presence lately? Are you learning to know about the Lord, or are you, like Moses, saying, “Lord, teach me Your ways so that I may know You.” When you have been in the presence of the Lord, you are changed by His interaction with you. Let’s seek more of His presence.
I want more interaction with God; I don’t want to go forward without it.