21.9.22: God’s presence

Context: I woke, began to pray, and saw afresh that God is constantly present in us all.

I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth! (Psalm 116:9; NLT).

Practicing awareness

Once we recognise this, we can begin to practice remaining consciously aware of God’s presence, until our awareness becomes continuous. This is easy to say, but extremely difficult to put into practice. In fact, it can seem like an impossible task, for we have many distractions each day. Attempting it quickly reveals how easy it is to forget about God’s presence altogether for hours at a time.

Tangible reminders
However, tangible, meaningful reminders of God’s presence can be a useful aid. Those chosen will be different for everyone, depending on our faith and circumstances. Personally, I like to wear an olive-wood cross day and night, always available for me to kiss and hold. There are also a few pictures, icons and wall-crosses strategically placed around my home. Plus, as soon as I open my iPad, my favourite icon is there on the screen, as well.

Living in God’s presence
Slowly, usually through many years of practice, we can learn not just to remember God’s presence all the time, but to live in it. This means communing with God, whilst expressing God’s love as best we can, in all we think, say and do.

Becoming more Christ-like
Through constant contact with God, we become increasingly aware of our oneness with the Divine. This helps us to become more Christ-like, and even, astonishingly, a little more like God.

Constant oneness
In fact, of course, our oneness with God is unchanging, whether or not we are aware of it. This applies before birth, during our time on earth, and after death. So, if we want to live in the joy of God’s presence, all we have to do is to consciously practice remaining aware of, and communicating with, God, who lives within us.

Faith and hope

Context: Yesterday, after praying for others, there was nothing else I needed to say, so I fell silent. This time of wordless communion was eventually brought to an end by the arrival of today’s blog. It was easy to grasp, but extremely hard to put into words, perhaps because I’m still very tired after my journey back from the UK. 


Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:2-5; NLT).

Lord,
Once I have prayed for others,
Faith and hope remain,
And, when I am sick and weary,
Patience will sustain.

Lord,
Once I have said I’m sorry,
Love and peace abide,
And, when I request forgiveness,
Mercy will provide.

Lord,
Once I have asked your blessing,
Bounty is assured,
And, when I accept your wishes,
All can be endured.

Lord,
Though I have tried my hardest,
I have often failed,
Yet, when you receive my soul,
I’ll see your face, unveiled.


References

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV). 

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinthians 13:12; KJV). 

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18; NKJV). 

Practicing your presence

Context: A few days ago, on 13.7.22, I posted a blog outlining the daily conflict I experience between praying and writing (https://wp.me/p45bCr-bxF). 

Since then, I have continued to face this long-standing issue, until I had a significant breakthrough two days ago. In the evening, whilst preparing for yesterday’s  journey to the UK, I chose one of my favourite books to take with me. It was: “The practice of the presence of God”, by Brother Lawrence, who became a Carmelite lay-brother in 1666. Though small in size, it offers deep spiritual wisdom, comfort and encouragement. Unable to resist opening it, I came across  the writer’s familiar advice, “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD’S Presence, by continually conversing with Him.”

In his constant practice of the presence of God, Brother Lawrence drew no distinction between the times set aside for prayer, and his work in a busy monastery kitchen. “The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess GOD in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

I’ve read these words before, but this time, they struck home in a new way. At last, I grasped that as long as I am continually practicing a sense of God’s presence by loving, worshipping and communing with God, there is no conflict at all between praying and writing – or any other activity, for that matter. This is what it means to, “Pray continually”.

So, yesterday morning, a new prayer flowered from what I had learned, though it proved very difficult to express. Having a constant headache, and feeling stressed about the day’s journey made it all the harder. However, I was able to write this blog on the boat, having even used the lift to reach my seat – praise God!

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV). 

Yahweh,

When I’m practicing
Your presence,

Prayer and writing
Never clash,

Because, no matter
What I’m doing,

We continue to commune
In love.

We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV). 

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever (Psalm 16:11; NLT).

Pray without words

Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
(Psalm 139:4; NIV).

Pray without words;
Confess without words.

Weep without words,
And repent without words.

Teach without words;
Forgive without words.

Serve without words,
And rejoice without words.

Love without words;
Commune without words.

Praise without words,
And unite without words.

🖤

Your godly lives will speak to them without any words.
(1 Peter 3:1; NLT).

I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee.
(Exodus 25:22; KJV).

 


 

Love

Do everything with love (1 Corinthians 16:14; NLT).

May I treat all I feel with love,
With understanding, Lord, and care.

May I check all my thoughts with love,
Correcting them, through instant prayer.

May I speak every word with love,
Say sorry, when I get this wrong.

May I do everything with love,
And serve you gladly, all day long.

May I rejoice, and praise your name,
Commune with you, Lord, all the time.

May I accept both good and bad,
Until our spirits intertwine.

May I treat everyone with love,
No matter what they say, or do,

And trust our Father constantly –
Then I will be like you.

🖤

The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT).

 


 

Don’t let prayer become a burden


Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).

Don’t let prayer become a burden;
Don’t let prayer become a chore:
Listen to the Spirit’s prompting –
Silence is your inner core.

Take it slowly. Take it gently.
Keep it honest; not too long:
One with God in deep communion –
Though you’re weak, your prayers are strong.

Revel in your intercessions;
Pray for those who cross your path,
Begging God to bless and heal them –
Don’t let this become a “task”.

For yourself, ask God to help you
Face, and bear, his perfect will
With humble thanks, and great rejoicing –
Knowing that he loves you, still.

Pray that many unbelievers
Meet Christ Jesus, hear his call,
Repent, and turn to him each day –
Because the Father loves us all.

🖤

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16; NLT).


Every waking moment

Image: Arslan Ahmad, Pixabay


🤎

1. Lord,
May I commune with you
In every waking moment.

2. Lord,
May I consult with you,
Each step along the way.

3. Lord,
May I rejoice in you,
And never fail to worship.

4. Lord,
May I give thanks to you,
And never cease to pray.

🤎


References

1. You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

2. Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

Pour out your hearts to him (Psalm 62:8; NIV).

3. Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NIV).

Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour (Psalm 96:9; NLT).

4. Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

Contemplation: a different approach

Image: ImaArtist, Pixabay


Introduction

Do you find contemplation difficult, or even impossible? Does your mind constantly slip away from observing the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations bubbling up within you, becoming caught up with them, instead? If so, you might like to try a different approach.

A fresh approach

1. Sit, lie, or stand comfortably, or walk, if you feel restless.

2. Ask God to help you with everything you are going to share with him.

3. Let your breathing be however it is. If you are still, you can close your eyes if you wish.

4. Notice the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations arising within you, and share them honestly with God. You can do this silently, or aloud, whatever suits you best. Tell him anything you want to, even if you think you shouldn’t feel, or think, that way.

5. Ask God to help you with each issue you tell him about, listening for his still, small voice in response. It doesn’t matter if you move on to a new concern before you have finished talking to him about something else. It doesn’t matter if you fall asleep. You are always in God’s arms, like a little child, and he already knows everything you are experiencing and sharing with him. This kind of contemplation is about being yourself, and being honest with God.

6. Do this for whatever amount of time you wish, long or short; again, it doesn’t matter. Thank God for listening, understanding, caring, and helping you. Then continue with your day.

Conclusion

With practice, you may find that you can continue sharing your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations with God whilst you are doing simple tasks. He lives within you, so you can commune with him in your heart whenever, and wherever, you want.

In time, always aware of his presence, you will unhesitatingly share everything with him, and this is a vital part of what it means to love both God and yourself.

Image: Anja, Pixabay


References

Introduction

As I stood there is silence – not even speaking of good things – the turmoil within me grew worse. The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words (Psalm 39:2-3; NLT).

A fresh approach

1. Be still in the presence of the Lord (Psalm 37:7; NLT).

I cannot be still (Jeremiah 4:19; NLT).

2. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14; NLT).

3. The life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being (Job 12:10; NLT).

4. Pour out your heart to him (Psalm 62:8; NLT).

Lord, you are searching for honesty (Proverbs 11:5; NLT).

Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

5. He will be gracious if you ask for help (Isaiah 30:19; NLT).

Tell God what you need (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

Listen to his voice (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you (Deuteronomy 33:27; NLT).

He knows the secrets of every heart (psalm 44:21; NLT).

6. Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help (Psalm 86:5; NLT).

Conclusion

I know the Lord is always with me (Psalm 16:8; NLT).

There is […] one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:4,6; NLT).

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

Commune with your own heart (Psalm 77:6; KJV).

Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; CSB).

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:29; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Nothing

Image: Godsgirl madi, Pixabay


I know the Lord is always with me
(Psalm 16:8; NLT).

1. Nothing can come
Between me and my Lord.

2. Nothing can wipe out
His care.

3. Nothing can stop us
Communing each day.

4. Nothing can silence
My prayer.

 


References

1. Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39; NLT).

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – but even in darkness I cannot hide from you (Psalm 139:7-12; NLT).

2. He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

3. Listen to his voice, and cling to him (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).

He hears my voice (Psalm 116:1; NLT).

4. Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).

Waiting

Image: Imaresz, Pixabay


Father,

1. May I worship you
With every breath I take,

2. Rejoicing in your holy name,
Although my heart may ache;

3. Communing with you constantly,
Although I feel alone,

4. And waiting for the day
When you will lead my spirit home.

 


References

1. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour (1 Chronicles 16:29; NLT).

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

2. Rejoice before him – his name is the Lord (Psalm 68:4; NIV).

Even in laughter the heart may ache (Proverbs 14:13; NIV).

3. Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; CSB).

Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress (Psalm 25:16; NLT).

4. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:2; NLT).

Wait for the Lord (Psalm 37:34; NIV).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care (Jeremiah 31:9; NLT).