In God's presence—in an intimate relationship with Him—is the source of every good, righteous, and positive attitude and act. Because the justifying work of Jesus Christ gives us access to God, prayer brings us near so He can give these things, and we can receive them.
This can be illustrated in a simple way. We have probably been in the close presence of a person of positive, uplifting attitudes, who radiates enthusiasm, zeal, confidence, gentle humor, and determination. On the other hand, it is likely we have also been in the presence of someone who wears a sour countenance, seethes with anger, trembles in fear, wallows in lethargy, or whines about his "victimization" at the hands of unseen people or forces. What happens to our attitude in either situation? Unless we resist, we tend to respond to the strength of the other's attitudes. A literal, spiritual transference of attitude takes place.
What happens if we are some distance from either of these persons, or even if near, we are completely disinterested? It does not affect us in the least. Why? Because we are neither near enough nor interested enough to be affected.
It is the spirit of these people radiating out from them that influences and perhaps even changes our spirit. This also gives insight into why we carnally reflect Satan's spirit: It permeates our environment. Similarly, prayer to God through Jesus Christ brings us into the very presence of the most positive, righteous, and unchanging attitudes that exist in the entire universe!
God greatly desires us to have the qualities of His Spirit, and being in His presence is one way He accomplishes this. This is why people can leave God's presence in prayer and feel peace, joy, or confidence—or humble and chastened because God has led them to remorse and repentance.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning
Do you realize that through prayer, through Bible study, and through attending Sabbath services, we are in the presence of God? In His presence is joy evermore—not discouragement, not despair, not despondency, not guilt—joy!
He is such a powerful Personality that, when we are in His presence, it is very difficult, if not impossible, not to be affected by what He is. This is why we need to pray—it is an absolute necessity! We need to take advantage of this invitation to fellowship with Him, in study and prayer, because this great Personality wants to infuse us with what He is. It becomes part of us because we are around Him.
We have a proclivity to adapt to the environment in which we find ourselves. When we have grown up in this world, our character is set in such a way that it is against God. Only by being in His presence can this anti-God attitude be counteracted. This invitation to fellowship with Him is our salvation.
And there is not just joy in His presence but love, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, mercy, self-control, and every other attribute of the Spirit of God. In His presence is "where it's at."
Can we see the story that is being worked out from Adam and Eve on? Through the sins of mankind, he became separated from God. But now, through Christ, the ability to return to His presence, into fellowship Him—into the very Garden of Eden, as it were—has been opened to us again. It is only in His presence that all of the good attributes of His Spirit are available to us.
This highlights the importance of Passover. It is not just the death of Christ but the effect of His death: reestablishment of communion with God, of fellowship with Him.
Having access to His presence does not mean that the Christian will never experience depression or despair, but we will never experience it for very long if we continue to fellowship with God. It will motivate us to refocus on the reality of what God is working and doing in us. In other words, our knowledge that we are keeping the commands of God and that we love our brethren and that we believe in the name (that is, the nature and all of the characteristics) of Jesus Christ will pull us out of our doldrums. We know what we have experienced with God in the past and realize that our present dilemma is not the end of the world.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Psalms 16:11:
2 Corinthians 5:10