25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:25-31
As Paul and Silas sit in prison, praying and singing hymns, where is God? Well, we know that God is everywhere at all times. Theologically, we call this the omnipresence of God – there is no where that God is not. But something interesting happens in this passage. God shows us in a way that is beyond His omnipresence. Writers of old referred to these moments as “thin places” – where the divide between heaven and earth is thinner than normal. Some refer to these moments as God’s manifest presence.
We see many of these moments in the Bible. We also see many of these moments in church history. We have become accustomed to not experiencing these moments, so we have made a theology that leans heavy on God’s omnipresence. However, we must long for and pray for these moments when we experience “thin places” when God manifests His presence in life-changing ways. This is the only way to see His Kingdom advanced with power in our lives and in our churches today.