Sometimes during communal prayer or worship, we hear speakers talk about how the room is filled with the presence of God, and we think to ourselves 'thats not right, I don't feel anything, nothing seems to have changed'. We think to ourselves, maybe the speaker is letting his/her emotions get the better of him/her.
This problem perhaps arises out of a misconception of the Holy Spirit. Observe the following verses.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
You see, we can't call down the presence of God as if it were something that we could choose to let in or shut out, as if it were something we can control. God is omnipresent, that means He is everywhere. Before anyone even enters the room and begins to pray or worship God, He is already there.
What we can do, is to enter into His presence. the Bible makes countless references to entering into His presence, but not so much of asking His presence to enter into where we are! That means it is entirely possible for a room to be filled with the powerful presence of God, but for some people in it to have not entered into that presence. Whether we can sense the power of the Holy Spirit while aided by the community, is ultimately between us as individuals and God.
But wait, someone protests, what about Isaiah 55:6 which tells us to seek God while He may be found, to call upon Him while He is near? Does that not cause some form of contradiction?
Well not at all.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Clearly when Isaiah speaks of finding God while he could be found, He is not speaking of a God playing hide and seek with us, if anything we are the ones who are trying to play this childish game with Him. God is near to anyone who will call upon Him with all of their hearts. Accordingly, God will not be near to those who are steeped in sin, whose hearts are hardened. The choice is ours, will we choose to be near God, whose hand is ever outstretched towards us, or will be turn away?
God does not come when there is excellent worship or a fiery speaker. It is as we call upon His name, as we enter into his presence, that He enters into our hearts. As it is written in Revelations 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."