Practicing the Presence of God

IMG_7557“God is nearer to us than we are aware of. It is not necessary for being with God to be always at church. We may make a prayer chapel of our heart wherein to retire from time to time to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love.” ~Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

One of the quietest and simplest of all classic spiritual discplines is “the practice of the presence of God,” a discipline most often associated with the 17th century French Christian known as Brother Lawrence, in a book published after his death in 1691, titled “The Practice of the Presence of God”. In this practice, writes Brother Lawrence, we “make it [our] business to rest in Christ’s holy presence . . by a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God.” Are we paying attention to the presence of God in our life, in our day, in this moment? Most of the time we are not aware of God’s presence. C.S.Lewis writes in his book “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer”, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”

One beautiful way to practice the presence of God daily is in the interruptions. In the face of any interruption, say to God, “You are here.” At the moment any interruption occurs, hear God say to you, “I am here.” Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, in her book “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us” writes about daily interruptions, “Remind yourself that you are in the presence of Jesus, who had time for people who questioned and interrupted. Remember that some of Jesus’ most gracious miracles occurred when he was interrupted. What is it like for you to offer yourself to be present to God during interruptions?” (page 61, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook)

When we refuse to slow down, and fail to acknowledge Christ’s presence in our daily lives, we become like an uprooted tree, stranded, lifeless, without the  nourishment to bring leaves, flowers and fruit.