Pursuing God’s Presence: A Practical Guide to Daily Renewal and Joy

May 13, 2024

by Roger Helland, Kairos Affiliate Professor and Faculty Mentor


I grew up as a Southern California non-Christian with a sin-infested lifestyle devoid of God. Jesus Christ was a swear word in my family, and I plunged into an immoral abyss as a teen. But one Friday night while I peaked on LSD, a high-school buddy who had become a “Jesus freak” shared the gospel with me. The Spirit pierced my darkness. I felt this gravitational pull of presence and then prayed my first prayer to Jesus. Years later, I sensed that same presence when God called me to become a pastor. I eventually became devoted to prayer and then to the pursuit of God’s presence.

Over the years, my incendiary passion as a pastor, professor, denominational leader, and prayer ambassador, has been to seek God’s presence for spiritual renewal and revival. Revivalist Richard Owen Roberts declares, “The sobering truth is that the greatest hindrance to the growth of Christianity in today’s world is the absence of the manifest presence of God from the church.” When we encounter God’s localized presence—the weight of his radiant glory, his kavōd (pronounced kaw-vode)—marvelous results occur like healing, holiness, transformation, and joy. Habakkuk 2:14 fuels my vision: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory [kavōd] of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

In my newest book Pursuing God’s Presence, I offer a biblical and practical guide on how to seek, experience, and host God’s presence. I unpack the implications of this core verse, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (Psalm 105:4). I sort through common fears and misunderstandings about God’s presence to make room for conservatives and charismatics alike to embrace a robust Trinitarian theology and practice.

What could happen if we as theological leaders placed as our central priorities pursuing God’s presence and holiness (see Psalm 105:4 and Hebrews 12:14) fused with devotion to prayer and the ministry of the word (see Acts 6:4 and Colossians 4:2)? I offer special attention to how we can develop as presence-centered leaders who live and lead by the Spirit through a life of prayer and piety. And how we can develop presence-centered churches that become habitations of kavōd—houses of prayer and living temples of the Holy Spirit—through Scripture, Spirit, and Sacrament.

I have camped as a Christian leader in the parklands of the Vineyard, Mennonite Brethren, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and Baptist traditions, and have witnessed, experienced, studied, and taught on the dynamics of renewal and revival. I meet multitudes of parched pastors and people desperately thirsty for God. The outpouring of the Spirit at Asbury University in February 2023 is another harbinger of what can occur when humble and consecrated people seek, experience, and host God’s presence. Thousands of seekers traveled from all over the world and stood in line for hours in the freezing Kentucky cold to get into Hughes Auditorium. And not to enjoy a famous worship leader or speaker but to experience God’s manifest presence, power, and purity—”holiness unto the Lord.”

Whether you are a Kairos student, mentor, affiliate professor, administrator, staff, or supporter, here’s my valiant prayer for you: “That you may be filled with all the fullness [plērōma] of God” (Ephesians 3:19)—with the totality of God himself jammed into your spirit, soul, and mind. May you experience the path of life, where in God’s presence there’s fullness of joy, and at his right-hand pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

For more information, check out the landing page of Pursuing God’s Presence: A Practical Guide to Daily Renewal and Joy, and available from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com, and Baker Book House.

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