ENTERING HIS PRESENCE
God wants us to meet with Him daily. And He is waiting to come near to us with His presence. But is there something we can do to help welcome His presence into our lives?
Yes, there is. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas 4:7,8a).
The scriptural condition for God to draw near to us with His presence is this: We must draw near to Him first! He is ready to respond, but He waits for us to first come near to Him.
In order to “draw near” to God, we are instructed to do two things: to submit and to resist. We must submit ourselves in humble worship and obedience before the Father.
And we must resist the distractions and discouragements that the devil tries to bring to keep us from God. We must do both in order to draw near to God, and for Him to then draw near to us.
A. DAILY PURPOSE IN PRAISE
The Bible says in Psalm 100:4, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” All approach to God involves worship.
In fact, praise invites the very presence of God to come and dwell: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Ps 22:3 kjv).
God is worthy of all of our praise. There are two basic reasons for which we can praise God:
For Who He is – the truth about God’s nature and character.
For what He has done – gifts, blessings, protection, answers to prayer, etc.
- Praise Him For Who He Is
Praising God every day for Who He is will change your life! You will be daily reminded of the truth of Who God is; and that remembrance will build up your faith.
You might begin by simply saying: “Lord, I praise You today because You are my Savior. You have not only saved me from my sins of the past, but You are also my Savior right now. Your saving power will help me today. I thank You for being such a strong and faithful Savior.”
On another day you can think about a different side of God’s character: “Lord, I praise You because You are Almighty. You are infinitely stronger than anything that I might face today. Thank You that You will be with me and strengthen me no matter what may happen.”
Or you can thank the Lord for being the Truth: “Lord, I praise You for being so faithful and true. I can always trust the truth of Your Word – it will never fail. Your truth sets me free, and I am grateful for that today.”
Praise God for a different part or aspect of His nature every day. You could reflect upon one of the many biblical names for Jesus as well, such as “the light of the world” (John 8:12). As you spend each day recalling Who God is, and what a wonderful Savior Jesus is, your praise and worship will become fresh and meaningful. And you will have a much greater appreciation for Who God is every day!
- Praise Him For What He Has Done
Take time to praise the Lord for what He has done.
There are some past blessings for which we just can’t thank the Lord enough – such as our salvation. Thank Him also for more recent things He has done. Choose something that God did in your life yesterday and praise Him for it today, as a fresh reminder of His faithfulness and goodness. “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20).
B. OFFER UP YOUR BODY TO THE LORD
Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our bodies to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…”
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor 6:19,20).
It is both a scriptural and a practical expression to give ourselves to God, and to involve our body in worship to God. It can also help us stay focused on our prayer time, and not doze off or become distracted.
How do we offer our bodies in worship? One way is to kneel down. If you can’t kneel, sit before the Lord with a humble heart. (They were all sitting when the Spirit first came on the Day of Pentecost.) It is not a religious form or ritual. It is an outward expression that we are bowing our hearts and submitting our lives in obedience to God.
You may feel particularly joyful or grateful to the Lord for His goodness. If so, you may want to dance before the Lord like David (2 Sam 6:14). Let God see your heart of praise and joy for Him and what He has done!
We can lift our faces toward the Lord (Job 22:26-28). The Bible also instructs us, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” (Ps 47:1). David exclaimed, “I will lift up my hands in Your Name” (Ps 63:4).
Offer your body in some way to the Lord at the beginning of the day. You will find it much easier to resist the temptations of the world for your body if you do. Hands lifted to God in holy praise early in the morning will not so quickly give way to unholy acts of disobedience.
When our bodies are not offered and submitted to God, we are more open to temptations: overeating, laziness or unholy sex are all sins of the body (1 Cor 6:18; also read Romans 6). Giving praise to God with our words and our bodies is one way we can become strong in resisting the world, the flesh and the devil. Let us offer our bodies to God in praise every day!
C. SING A NEW SONG
Psalm 96:1 says: “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song.” We also read, “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love” (Ps 59:16 niv). Singing to the Lord is an acceptable and powerful form of worship.
Singing praises can be intimidating when not done very often. We may feel uncomfortable singing alone, or we may think we do not sing well enough. But the point is not to give a performance; it is simply to express our love and worship to God through song. We can be sure of one thing. Whatever effort we make in singing praise to our God will be a sweet sound to His ear!
WHAT DO I SING?
One way to sing is “with the understanding” (1 Cor 14:15). We can sing choruses or hymns that are familiar to us. Or we can open our Bible and make up our own tune using the words of Scripture. This works especially well with the Psalms, since they were originally written as songs.
We can also sing “with the Spirit” (1 Cor 14:15), and sing “spiritual songs” (Col 3:16). Paul used the gifts of the Spirit to help him sing “new songs”. These are songs the Holy Spirit gives us. They are available to all Spirit-filled believers who will use the enablements provided by the Spirit.
D. WORSHIP IN THE SPIRIT
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23,24).
Ephesians 5:18,19 says, “Be filled with the Spirit…singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Our prayer and singing may be “with the Spirit” (1 Cor 14:15). Singing and praying in the spirit has a special meaning. It means to sing and pray in a tongue or language which comes from the Holy Spirit.
The song or prayer is made up of sounds or words which have not been learned. This language is not understood by the mind of the one praying or singing. Nor is it usually understood by someone nearby who may be listening. It is, however, understood by God because it is by His Spirit. “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God…” (1 Cor 14:2 kjv).
The Apostle Paul tells us that sometimes we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for as we should (Rom 8:26,27). However, the Holy Spirit can pray to God through us with sounds or a language we don’t understand. Paul assures us that such praying is always in line with the will of God.
After praying in the spirit, we might have a better understanding of how to pray in our native or learned language.
In 1 Corinthians 14:14-16, Paul makes mention of praying “with the understanding”. This can be the interpretation of what we prayed in other tongues.
Praying in tongues is a powerful tool and gracious gift of God’s Holy Spirit. It should be an important part of our daily devotional life.
Singing in the spirit can have a similar purpose. Sometimes we just can’t put into words how much we love the Lord Jesus. Again the Holy Spirit helps us by giving sounds and songs of praise in a language we don’t understand with our minds.
We do know that singing in the spirit is an overflow of love, joy and praise to God; and that it strengthens our spirit (1 Cor 14:2,4,17,18).
Paul is thankful to God that in his private devotions he prays in tongues (languages given by the Spirit) more than anyone else (1 Cor 14:18). What a powerful example for us to follow in our own daily life of devotion!