I’m a pastor with over twenty years of ministry experience in the trenches. I’ve written a youth devotional book on prayer, a parable about living the new and living way of the Spirit, and I blog about walking with God.
For some reason, quite a number of people get the distinct impression that I walk around with a continuous feeling of God’s presence. The truth is, I rarely feel his presence—and I’m okay with that.
For one thing, there isn’t a single verse in the Bible that says we’re supposed to feel God’s presence. Sure, there are spine-tingling stories glistening throughout the pages of scripture, moments where God did something so amazing that people had to feel it somehow. But the bottom line is, as fun as it is to feel God when it happens, I’m not supposed to feel the presence of God.
That doesn’t mean I can’t feel him, doesn’t mean I won’t feel him. It means I shouldn’t ever feel like I’m missing the boat if I don’t feel him. It’s not a “supposed to,” not a prerequisite for a successful Christian life, not a measuring stick for deep spirituality, not even the hallmark of radical faith. It’s amazing how many Christians feel guilty for not feeling God when the Bible never says feeling God is important in any way.
Sometimes we talk about the difference between faith and feelings as though it’s the difference between logic and emotion. But faith isn’t logic or brainpower. “With the heart you believe, and are justified,” Paul says (Romans 10:10). I may not always feel God, but I know him, and knowing him is eternal life (John 17:3). I may not feel him with me, but I know he’s with me—deep in my heart, tucked away where feelings don’t change a thing. I can’t put this into words exactly, but I’ve felt God plenty and this experience of deep knowing is better by far. If I had to choose between “feeling” God and “knowing” him, I’d choose knowing him every time.
Do I want to feel Jesus more? Sure, who wouldn’t? But I’m not going to lose sleep over it, not going to “suck up” to him to try to get some, not going to try to earn it. My confession? I used to do my devotions because I was trying to feel God. I bet some of you can relate, if you’re honest. That’s what many people mean when they say, “I spend time with God, but I don’t get anything out of it.” They mean, “I never feel anything.”
The Lion King taught us to ask, “Can you feel the love tonight?” A mature believer can enjoy God and commune with him without feeling a thing.