The presence of God is the mark of divine authority, and this is the backbone of our assignment to disciple the nations. This is not an optional extra. This is the heart and soul of how you and I were designed. We were designed and then assigned by God to be on this planet as citizens of another world. As a citizen of that world, I am to look for the one or two others with whom I can meet and come into a place of agreement, so that the manifest presence of God will settle upon our gathering together. That’s what Jesus promised.
Then in that position, we touch heaven and change earth; we take what is real in God’s kingdom and make it real in this kingdom; we make decisions that actually shape the course of human history. That’s why Jesus could say what He did:
John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
So, you see any lack of answers to prayer is not a problem on God’s part. The lack of answers to prayer is a problem on our end and it’s often connected to our ability and willingness to abide in Christ. The felt presence of God is one of the keys to answered prayer and living apart from that; doing our best to mimic God’s will; doing our best to pray for things that we think ought to happen – just won’t work. It’s not that our prayers are wrong necessarily, it’s not that what we’ve requested is against His will, we are just missing the strength of abiding in Christ.
When we have the manifest presence of God upon us and we come before the Father with a request, there is this spiritual reality into which we have been invited – “Abide in me, let my words abide in you.” It’s the acknowledged, felt presence of God. It’s not just a recognition of the Almighty God being here, it is our engagement with Him.
Abiding is an engaged participation with a person, where there is an encounter; there is an exchange; there is a fellowship; there is an intimacy; there is a connection that is otherworldly. In that connection, we are positioned to think differently, to feel differently, to see differently and if we are sitting with another brother or sister, family member or whoever, then Jesus says in that context the weight of the government of His world is upon our shoulders. That is reason we can bind anything here that’s already bound there. In that position, we are much more prone to see and discern the reality of God’s world.
King David made an interesting statement:
Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
What did he mean here? Well, he doesn’t mean we can grab hold of God and put Him where we want. He wasn’t saying that. I believe what he is saying is this: since you can’t imagine a place where God isn’t, you might as well imagine Him with you. We believe God is everywhere so that must include here, right now, with me.
What is abiding in Christ? It is acknowledging the presence of God who is with me to a point of engagement, relationship, awareness. Something happens in that heartfelt connection with the presence of God, the Spirit of God, Who is with me and will never leave me – so that I live more aware of what He wants; I live more conscious of His will; I live more aware of His heart at that time and little by little my heart is re-programmed, my mind is renewed, my spirit is aligned with His Spirit. That is abiding in Christ.
So, I have a dream … and I think it’s as bold as Martin Luther King’s dream 60 years ago …
I dream … that very soon the people of God across our nation will finally get to the point where we are sick and tired of letting the enemy have his way.
I dream … that we will all see the truth together and affirm that we are here representing another world, we are representing God Himself, and the Governor of that world is here, present with us.
I dream … that God’s people will decide to finally connect their heart to His; they decide to live aware of Him and all that He is, the words that He breathes, until we think what He thinks, we want what He wants, we dream what He dreams.
I dream … that God’s abiding presence will then become the primary influence in our conscious and unconscious mind.
I dream … of the day when I will see two or three people in prayer here and another two or three over there and still more in the workplace, in hospitals, in the parks, in the railway stations and airports, in every corner or our communities – hundreds and thousands of people manifesting the simplicity and the power of ecclesia – God, in the midst of His people.
I dream … of the day when ‘abiding in Christ’ is not just a theological term we preach about, write about and pray about . . . but a lived reality for the people of God everywhere!
That’s my dream.