The following is an excerpt from “Be The Difference”
“We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God by conversing all the time with Him…we should feed our soul with a lofty conception of God and from that derive great joy in being his. We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will, whether he takes us through sufferings or consolations.” Brother Lawrence
Whenever I read about men and women of faith there seems to be one constant that keeps them grounded. Even though they face incredible hardship, suffering and persecution at times, they remained true to their commitment to God. Elijah was like that. He was an ordinary man with human weaknesses, but who was firmly grounded in his faith. One of the qualities that enabled Elijah to be the difference in his world was living consistently in the presence of God.
Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
I think most, if not all, of us would say that we would like to have a clear vision of who God is and what He wants us to do for Him. How cool would it be if God would just appear to me in a dream, or a special vision, or if He would just send me a letter by way of a prophet? Wouldn’t most of us also desire to have a real, burning, heart aflame, tongues of fire, passion for God? I certainly believe that’s possible. But, I believe it begins by learning to spend significant amounts of time in prayer, in personal worship, and in reading His word.
How can we ever hope to have a vision and passion for God if we are not seeking to consciously dwell in His presence daily? If you’re married, how can you really get to know your spouse if you don’t spend significant amounts of time talking to them, listening to them, doing fun and interesting things together, sharing all of life’s experiences together, and just being together enjoying each other’s company? We can’t! If you’re not married, how do get to really know your friends? You can’t really get to know someone unless, and until, you spend significant amounts of time together. It’s no different with God. We will never have a vision of who God is, our passion for God will not grow, if we are not spending significant amounts of time with Him. There is no substitute or easy formula apart from personal time with the God of the Universe.
The person who truly has a vision of God is growing in their knowledge of God. She is someone who understands who she is in Christ; someone who has discovered what her spiritual gifts are and how she can be used in the body of Christ for the glory of God. She is someone who is overwhelmed by what God has done for her and who is humbled and broken and will go anywhere or do anything for this God who loves her so much. That begins by spending time with Him.
How Do We Learn To Live In God’s Presence?
First, by daily surrendering to the control of the Holy Spirit. Instead of surrendering to self-serving desires, ambitions or pleasures. In Ephesians 5:18, we are commanded to “be filled with the Holy Spirit.” It’s important to understand that this is not an option for a Christian. It’s a command we are expected to obey. I once heard a pastor say, “Jesus Christ has made no provision for you to live the Christian life.” (Emphasis on YOU!) He went on to explain, “the power for the Christian life is NOT you.” In other words, you cannot do it on your own. You may have moments of spiritual success here and there, moments of joy and fulfillment, but for the long haul, to try to live the Christian life in your own power is impossible. God never designed the Christian life to be lived like that. The power to live the Christian life is realized only by the power of the Holy Spirit living His life in and through you. You might be able to fake it for a while. Many Christians do. I have. But eventually you’re going to fail and keep failing. And maybe secretly you wonder, “is this all there is?” If that sounds familiar to you then surrender to Him daily. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Second, by developing your prayer life. We also learn to live in the presence of God by developing the kind of prayer life that keeps us in communion with God all day long. James wrote that Elijah prayed fervently. The Greek word for fervently implies that his prayers were not merely little nods to God but were more like speeches. In other words, he spent significant amounts of time in prayer. We read in the gospels that Jesus often prayed all night. When was the last time any of us prayed all night? If we really want to have communion with God and live in His presence, then we have to learn that prayer is more than a minute here and there. That type of prayer is very often appropriate in the right circumstances. But communion with God is not built on a prayer life consisting solely of brief moments of prayer. We must learn to spend longer periods of time in prayer. Prayer consists not only of speaking to God, but also learning how to listen to Him. It means allowing time for the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and mind. That cannot be done in haste.
If you wanted to spend time with a loved one would you barge into the room, throw out a couple of requests and then abruptly leave? If you did, I’m afraid you really would not have much of relationship with them. It would be pretty self-centered. Of course, you wouldn’t do that. You would want to spend time with them by sitting with them, talking with them, listening to them, sharing what’s on your heart and listening to what’s on theirs. Prayer is like that. It’s a two-sided conversation between two people who love each other, you and God. What an unbelievable privilege and honor it is to be able to converse with your Creator, Redeemer, and Friend and to know that He not only listens but also loves to spend that time with you.
Elijah was just such a man. He was yielded to God and he was a man of prayer. His ministry and life were not lived by the power of the flesh, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in the presence of God. He was an ordinary man who had a nature just like ours. The difference between Elijah and us, however, is that we tend to be more sold out to the world than we are to God. We could know God like Elijah if we would discipline ourselves to learn how to live in His presence through yielded spirits and fervent prayer. No compromise.