Are you hungry for the presence of God? I believe in the heart of every human being there is a longing to feel God’s presence. Since we desire the presence of God, it’s good to know that He is omnipresent—He’s everywhere! In the words of the psalmist, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7).

In good times and bad, God is there. God’s presence is among sinners as well as saints. The thief and the drug addict can’t flee from it any more than the believer can—the difference is that generally the sinner tried to flee from His presence, whereas the believer runs to it. In His presence the sinner often finds conviction, but the saint finds comfort.

Even more awesome than the omnipresence of God is His manifest presence. God’s manifest presence is often experienced in a worship service, but He’s not limited to church services. Many times His presence is with us, but we fail to realize it. Jacob had a vision of a ladder with angels ascending and descending from heaven before he recognized the presence of God at Bethel. In the vision, God spoke to him and told him no matter where he’d go, God would go with him to bring him back to the promised land. Then, “Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it’” (Genesis 28:16).

Jacob had blown it big time. He’s lied, deceived, and done all kinds of wrong things. Following his vision, Jacob made a new commitment to God and promised that he would indeed serve Him if only He would bring him back home. The manifest presence of God changed Jacob’s life.

In the New Testament, Saul’s life was also dramatically changed when he encountered the manifest presence of God. Meeting the risen Lord, Saul became so totally transformed that he shook up the civilized world at that time and wrote 13 books of the New Testament.

There are times when God will manifest Himself without you doing anything or even consciously seeking Him, as in Jacob’s and Paul’s case. At other times, the things you do can cause His presence to manifest. One of these is praise: “You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]” (Psalm 22:3 AMPC). I’m sure this is why Psalm 95:2 tells us to come before His presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise to Him. Praise brings God’s presence. You can praise Him wherever you are, no matter what you’re doing. Don’t just praise Him in church; praise Him in your car, your home, and your office.

God also bestows gifts upon those who dwell in His presence, which makes living in His presence so wonderful. There are several things that happen when God’s presence is manifested.

Benefit #1: Joy and Strength

Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” When you’re feeling tired or weak, the joy of the Lord can quicken you because “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I have encountered this same joy many times. When I can’t sleep and start praising the Lord and thanking Him for all His blessings, there are no bags under my eyes in the morning and I feel totally invigorated for the day of ministry ahead of me.

The Holy Spirit will then move upon the people to whom I minister, and they will also experience His presence and joy. I know of one woman who got really “drunk” in the Spirit following a service in which the joy of the Lord flowed. On the way home, she was stopped by a policeman who thought she was drunk and tested her for alcohol. When the test showed nothing, she explained to him that the only thing she was drinking was the Holy Spirit and shared what happened at the meeting. He began to cry! Apparently, he was a backslidden Christian. He was so convicted he prayed and rededicated his life to Jesus. When God manifests, we’ll have people getting saved all over the place.

Benefit #2: Freedom from Sins

The second benefit is seen in that the presence of God brought joy to the woman but conviction to the policeman. This was evidenced also in the garden of Eden after the fall. When God’s presence showed up, Adam and Eve hid from Him because they recognized their sin. I saw the same thing happen in at one of my Bible Encounters many years ago. God’s presence was so heavy that people were coming up to me confessing their sins. They couldn’t stand the weight of their sins anymore. I didn’t tell them to do this; the presence of God was doing it. As they confessed their sins and repented, they were set free!

Benefit #3: Enemies Will Flee

“When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence” (Psalm 9:3). When God’s presence comes on the scene, your enemies will be repulsed—this applies to natural and supernatural enemies like sickness, disease, and poverty. This was marvelously demonstrated during one of my meetings in Texas. One of the women there fell—literally—under the power of the Holy Spirit. When she tried to get up, she couldn’t and fell back down. She tried again and still couldn’t get up. She finally asked, “God, what are you doing?”

“I’m healing you!” He answered. She had a serious fertility problem and couldn’t have a child. She felt God doing a work, and after the meeting, she received proof of her healing. It became possible for her to have a baby—the enemy fled!

Benefit #4: Direction and Rest

The fourth benefit of God’s presence is that it brings direction. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, their sins finally drove God from them.  Even though they had experienced His manifest presence and divine direction in the pillars of cloud and fire, heard His voice, and knew His warmth and love, they continually rebelled against Him. Finally, God had had it. He told them He would no longer live in their midst but would instead send an angel to go with them. The people were so distressed that they pleaded with Moses to do something. Moses told them to repent and sanctify themselves. As Moses interceded on their behalf, God told them, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Notice, God not only promised to continue to guide them, but He also promised them rest.

Benefit #5: Help During Affliction

Fifth, God’s presence is manifest in the midst of affliction:

In all their affliction He was afflicted,

And the Angel of His Presence saved them;

In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;

And He bore them and carried them

All the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)

Are you afflicted or in a crisis? God is there! Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Jesus was in the first with them. When you are in a difficult season or circumstance, pray and trust Him. Instead of falling apart and having a nervous breakdown, pray: “Lord, I believe you can manifest yourself in this situation.” Who knows what He will do? Expect Him to show up and do wonderful things in crisis times.

Benefit #6: Foretaste of Eternity

I saved the best benefit until last. This relates to God’s eternal presence. What is it about us that longs for the touch of God—that desires to know Him in a very personal way? Jude 24-25 tells us:

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—

To the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity). (AMPC)

Jesus is going to present us before the presence of God’s glory with joy. Think about it. We are going to live eternally in His presence. What we experience here on earth is just the faintest touch of what we will one day experience in heaven. No wonder we are so hungry. We were made for the presence of God!