Original Research - Special Collection: UP Faculty of Theology Centenary Volume One

The sense of God’s presence in prayer

Gerrit Immink
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a4122 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.4122 | © 2016 Gerrit Immink | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 September 2016 | Published: 28 November 2016

About the author(s)

Gerrit Immink, Emeritus Professor, Protestant Theological University, Department of Practical Theology, Groningen, Netherlands


The awareness of God’s presence and the experience of his works – key notions in practices of prayer – find reasonable doubt in our secular age. Meanwhile, there are, worldwide, many communities of faith where people enthusiastically pray and hold that they hear the voice of God. How can we understand this sense of God’s presence?

In prayer, people express their hope and fear, and they do so with heart and mind. This subjective involvement is characteristic for prayer. At the same time, supplicants address God in the conviction that God is present and active. Critics of religion, however, criticise this ‘external’ realm of the divine and consider prayer a superstitious delusion. Passages of William James and John Calvin help us to get some insight in the ‘object’ of our religious consciousness. Furthermore, William Alston defends a non-sensory mystical perception of the divine. Using these insights, the author explores prayer as a conversation with God and reflects on the notion: hearing the voice of God.


Voice of God; Prayer; God's presence; William Alston


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