Just His Presence


Chris McKenna

just-his-presenceWe just finished a 4-week prayer series at our church. Let me be very honest – I don’t really like to pray. Can I admit that as a youth pastor? It’s a struggle for me! It requires a few things that I’m just not good at – sitting still and listening. I compensate for this by being creative in my time alone with God: for example, running for miles without any music (yes, it’s possible!). I often joke that I’m a kinetic Christian since I tend to hear God in the movement. Step after step.

The title of the series was “Breakthrough,” really hoping our people would experience breakthrough in their prayer lives. This could be an answer to a specific prayer, or maybe just a breakthrough in their understanding of who God is.

One thing I’ve realized through this series is that how we pray says much about our view of God. A small view of God will elicit small prayers. A works-based view of God often creates a quid-pro-quo relationship, where I do certain things in order to earn certain favor. A less-than-sovereign view of God means I do everything in my power first, and turn to prayer as a last resort. I’m guilty of all of these and more during certain stages of life.

But, the disciples had a radically different view of prayer. A spectacular example of this is shown in Acts 4. Peter and John are being harassed by the Jewish Sanhedrin, but eventually released. Once reunited with their fellow believers, their first response was to pray! They thanked God for being sovereign and in complete control. They asked for boldness in their testimony (More!? Are you serious?). They asked for miracles and for His very presence to fill their room. When they finished, the Holy Spirit filled them and shook the house.

Here’s the breakthrough for me. God’s presence is enough. Whether or not God answers another one of my prayers in the way I’m asking, I’ve already been given enough. HIM.

I was reminded of this last week while at camp with my middle school students. A 7th grader named Rachel approached me at lunch on Wednesday. She was smiling and almost unable to speak because she was so excited to tell me something. In the midst of some personal darkness, she had simply been praying to hear God. That’s it. Not even to be delivered from whatever it was that was causing her pain. She simply wanted to hear God. And during her quiet time, IT HAPPENED. She told me she heard God simply state her name. “Rachel”. There was no doubt in her mind it was God. And let me tell you SHE IS NEW. She is visibly changed. Whatever was bothering her is gone. All it took was God’s presence to radically shift and shake her life.

As I think ahead to next year’s 30 Hour Famine, I think I might pray a bit differently. I’ll still ask for a flood of financial support for the hungry and hurting. But, I will plead for God’s presence. I desperately want His Holy Spirit to show up and shake our room. For me and my students, that would be enough.