Living in the presence of God

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it! (Genesis 28:16; NLT).

God’s presence
Jesus was so accustomed to living in the full awareness of God’s presence that when he lost this awareness on the cross, he felt utterly alone for the first time in his life.

Whether we know it or not, we too are always in God’s presence. There is nowhere else to be, because God lives over, in, and through all things, including ourselves. However, we are always free to choose whether we want to recognise and relate to him, or not.

Remembering God
If we want to be conscious of living in God’s presence, we need to develop the habit of remembering him, communicating with him, and remaining in him, rather than forgetting him for long stretches of time.

This can be done in the following ways:

1. By recognising his presence in everyone, without exception.

2. By acknowledging him in all that exists, including everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.

3. By being aware of his presence within us.

4. By being honest with him about everything we feel, think, say, and do.

5. By listening for, and responding to, his still, small voice.

6. By remaining mindful of his presence whilst we are busy.

7. By spending time with him in silent communion.

Self-awareness
Being able to practice all these things depends on developing our self-awareness. This is because without self-awareness we can, for example, eat without tasting, pass people in the street without noticing them, disregard the beauty of the world, neglect the suffering of others, or ignore the quiet voice of our conscience. We cannot grow closer to God by living like this.

Furthermore, without self-awareness, we cannot identify our emotions and thoughts in order to share them honestly with God. This means we cannot immediately ask for his forgiveness and help whenever we need them.

Conclusion
Learning to live in constant awareness of God’s presence is an ongoing process, but no matter how forgetful we are, we can always ask him to help us start afresh each day. In this way, with mindful practice, we will gradually become more like Jesus, whose short life was spent in full awareness of his Father’s presence, no matter what was happening around him, until those final, despairing moments before his death.


References

God’s presence
You are in me, Father, and I am in you (John 17:21; NLT).
Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; NLT).
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Psalm 22:1; NLT).
The Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

Remembering God
Remember the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:18; NLT).
Remain in me, and I will remain in you (John 15:4; NLT).
1,2,3. There is […] one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).
4. You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).
Pour out your heart to him (Psalm 62:8; NLT).
5. Obey his commands, listen to his voice (Deuteronomy 13:4; NLT).
6. Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).
7. Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).
Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Self-awareness
The hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them (Matthew 13:15; NKJV).
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7; NIV).

Conclusion
He helps me (Psalm 28:7; NLT).
When I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:18; NLT)
We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image (2 Colossians 3:18; NIV).

In contemplation

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you
(James 4:8; NKJV).

1. Lord,
In contemplation,
I watch my thoughts arise;
Wrapping them in love, I lay them down,
With soft goodbyes.

2. Lord,
In contemplation,
I watch my thinking fade,
Waiting, still and silent, as your glory
Is unveiled.

3. Lord,
In contemplation,
I watch my thinking cease;
Slowly coming closer, till we meet
In joy and peace.

4. Lord,
In contemplation,
I’m drawn into your gaze;
At last, our souls unite, and I am lost
In wordless praise.


References

1. When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

Leave all iniquity behind you (Job 11:14; NLT).

He told them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick (Mark 6:8; NLT).

They left everything and followed Jesus (Luke 5:11; NLT).

2. Wait patiently for the Lord (Psalm 27:14; NLT).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image (2 Colossians 3:18; NIV).

3. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8; NKJV).

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NIV).

4. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love (Psalm 33:18; NIV).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26; NIV).

Christian contemplation made simple

Photo by Rawdon Hayne, with many thanks.

We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image (2 Colossians 3:18; NIV).

Contemplation is the slow, patient repetition of these steps:

1. Make yourself comfortable, sitting or lying in a place where you will not be disturbed.

2. Ask God to bless your time of contemplation.

3. Rest in God’s presence within and around you.

4. Focus your mind, heart and soul on loving God, drinking him in with every in-breath.

5. Repeat, ‘Abba’, or ‘Father’, silently, on every out-breath.

6. When anything comes into your mind, pray about it briefly and simply. Just a sentence or two is all that’s needed.

7. Then leave the matter in God’s hands, letting it go completely. He knows all about it.

8. Return to resting quietly in him, as before.

9. When you are ready to stop, thank God for your period of contemplation, then continue with your day.

References

1. Sit alone in silence (Lamentations 3:28; NIV).

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

3. You are the temple of the living God (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it (Genesis 28:16; NLT).

4. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind (Luke 10:27; NLT).

5. God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6; NLT).

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

When you pray, don’t babble on (Matthew 6:7; NLT).

7. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord (Psalm 139:4; NLT).

8. Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength (Isaiah 30:15; NLT).

9. Thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

Contemplation

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love
(Romans 8:38; NLT).

1. To contemplation, Lord,
I bring my body –
My weakness, tiredness,
Restlessness and pain.

2. To contemplation, Lord,
I bring my thinking –
My hidden judgements,
Envy and disdain.

3. To contemplation, Lord,
I bring my feelings –
My sorrow, longing,
Anger, guilt, and fear.

4. To contemplation, Lord,
I bring my spirit –
My faith, and hope, and love,
For you are here.

References

1. The flesh is weak (Mark 14:38; NIV).

2. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away (Psalm 139:2; NLT).

3. The Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; NIV).

4. Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13; NLT).

God is with us (Matthew 1:23; NLT).

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

Beyond

1. Lord,
I seek you out
In contemplation,

2. Though you are beyond words,
Thoughts,
And feelings;

3. Beyond movement,
Time,
And place;

4. Beyond awareness
Of any separate self –

5. My Lord,
And my God.

References

1. Keep on seeking, and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NLT).

2. Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

3. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

5. “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT).

You are the earth

The Father and I are one (John 10:30; NLT).

You are the solid earth we stand on;
You are the blazing sun above.
You are the sea that rolls forever;
You are the wellspring of all love.

You are the friend we can rely on;
You are the one who shares our dread.
You are the teacher, and the shepherd;
You are the consecrated bread.

You are the source of living water;
You are the gardener, and the vine.
You are the the way, the truth, the life;
You are the eucharistic wine.

You are the Christ, the true Messiah;
You are the sacrificial Lamb.
You are the Son of Man, our Saviour;
You are our God, the great I AM.

References

God created everything through him (John 1:3; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

You are my friends (John 15:15; NLT).

Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44; NIV).

You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am (John 13:13; NLT).

I am the good shepherd (John 10:14; NLT).

I am the living bread that came down from heaven (John 6:51; NLT).

Rivers of living water will flow from his heart (John 7:38; NLT).

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener (John 15:1; NLT).

I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6; NLT).

He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood” (Matthew 26:27-8; NLT).

Jesus told her, “I AM the Messiah! (John 4:26; NLT).

Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7; NLT).

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20; NLT).

The Father sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world (1John 4:4; NLT).

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT).

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9; NLT).

“I AM he, Jesus said (John 18:8; NLT).

God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14; NLT).

Six words

 

Six words are sufficient
When we pray to God each day:
Lord, I praise your holy name –
That’s all we need to say.

Five words are sufficient
When we pray to God each day:
I rejoice in you, Lord –
And that’s all we need to say.

Four words are sufficient
When we pray to God each day:
I forgive my enemies –
That’s all we need to say.

Three words are sufficient
When we pray to God each day:
Forgive my sins; forgive my sins –
That’s all we need to say.

Two words are sufficient
When we pray to God each day:
Thank you; thank you; thank you –
And that’s all we need to say.

One word is sufficient
When we pray to God each day:
Father; Father; Father –
And that’s all we need to say.

No words are sufficient
When we pray to God each day,
So let us kneel in silence –
He knows all we need to say.

 

References

When you pray, don’t babble on and on (Matthew 6:7; NLT).

Praise his holy name (Psalm 30:4; NLT).

His name is the Lord – rejoice in his presence! (Psalm 68:4; NLT).

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

All glory to God our Father forever and ever! (Philippians 4:20; NLT).

The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Romans 8:26; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:1-4; NIV).

Balance

 

May I find the balance, Lord,
As I relate to you –
To speak, but also listen,
For we are not one, but two.

May I talk things through with you,
As we share every day;
Then spend a while in silence 
When there’s nothing more to say.

Thus, may we live together,
Dearest Father, Spirit, Son, 
Rejoicing in communion –
For we are not two, but one. 

 

References 

Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:11; NLT).

As for me, I would speak directly to the Almighty (Job 13:3; NL).

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

God talks with man (Deuteronomy 5:24; DBY).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NLT).

The godly will live in your presence (Psalm 140:13; NLT).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14; NKJV).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

 

As darkness falls

As darkness falls,
I come ashore,

And take the path
To heaven’s door.

You run to meet me,
Kiss my face,

And overwhelm me
With your grace.

 

References

If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT).

There before me was a door standing open in heaven (Revelation 4:1; NIV).

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NIV).

Doesn’t your fear of him overwhelm you? (Job 13:11; NLT).

Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16; NLT).

Contemplation

Father, 
When I come to you in silence 
My body can’t be left outside the door;
So I share my pain and sickness with you,
Then I find they trouble me no more. 

Father,
When I search for you in stillness  
Endless thoughts and fantasies hold sway;
So I share all my istractions with you, 
Then I find they slowly drift away.

Father, 
When I seek you out in private 
Painful feelings can’t be pushed aside; 
So I share my rage and sorrow with you,
Then I find they quietly subside. 

Father,
When I wait for you in darkness 
Terror sometimes shakes me to the core; 
But I share my fear and anguish with you,
Then I let them go, Lord, and adore. 

 

References

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV). 

When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private (Matthew 6:6; NLT).

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

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35; NIV).

We adore you as the one who is over all things (1 Chronicles 29:11; NLT).