I mentioned last week that I talk to my friend, Suzanne, every Tuesday morning at 6:00. Truth be told, it’s more like 6:05 by the time I get my cup of coffee and splash water on my face.
This weekly phone call to Suzanne where we talk about our week and cry out to God together; it’s actually taught me a lot about practicing the presence of God. There have been too many times in life that I’ve opened up my heart only for it to be trampled on by someone I trusted. The “Suzanne call” teaches my heart to be open and honest and vulnerable. To keep going forward in that. To do that with a person, and to do that with God.
It’s not just the call, but it’s the person. With Suzanne, I just know she’s listening and I know she’s a safe person. I’ve known Suzanne for over fifteen years; in all phases of my life from singleness to married with kids. She’s vulnerable with me and that helps me be more vulnerable with her. I can’t say I’ve learned to do this perfectly with her. Often I get off the phone and wonder why I didn’t share more.
My phone call with Suzanne is a great illustration of what our conversation with God can be at every moment of our day. It brings me to the first way that we can practice the presence of God…even if we’re busy.
Practicing His presence is less about carving more time out of the day for a “quiet time” with Him. Though that is important and good, it is more about a mind shift. It’s about turning to Him and allowing an ongoing vulnerable conversation while we live out our day.
As I go through Brother Lawrence’s six ways necessary to develop the spiritual life in The Practice of the Presence of God (click here for my introductory post), I see this as the first and most important one:
- Finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way.
“The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. This is especially important in times of temptation, sorrow, separation from God, and even in times of unfaithfulness and sin.”
At first glance, this might seem over the top and impossible. I see your point, I mean, we can’t be speaking with God as we speak to our loved ones. Although having kids has taught me to try to have two conversations at once! And it may have been a bit easier for Brother Lawrence with His lifestyle. It may not be as hard as we think, though. What if our goal was to have honest, vulnerable, humble conversation with God woven throughout our day and our conversations? As we work and talk and think.
As one who keeps a journal, I love the book of Nehemiah. As I read it, I sense that I’m reading an ancient diary. In chapter one, we see Nehemiah take time to fast and pray as he learns that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down with survivors of the exile living there in danger and shame. We also, in chapter two, see him say a quick prayer in the midst of a conversation with the king.
“In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time” (Nehemiah 1:1-6).
This prayer in the midst of talking with the king, it’s the kind of thing I want more of. And not just when something big is happening. I want this in the midst of all of life circumstances.
I have been able to experience this during certain days, weeks, months, and seasons. Yet I must admit I have not accomplished this as a way of life every day of my life. And again, as I mentioned last week, perhaps the struggle to have more of this is a beautiful one. One that the Lord takes great delight in. Because a struggle means we’re not totally giving ourselves over to life without Him. We’re fighting for Him to be a part of our lives.
Have you joined this battle yet? Or have you joined but have currently given up this day, week, month, year, or season?
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
Jesus wants us to abide in Him.
Does that mean to simply believe in Him and obey Him?
Perhaps it means more. Perhaps it means to live with Him. To talk with Him throughout our days. To honor His neverending presence and active ways in our lives by simply noticing it and interacting with Him.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
He is always with us and in His presence, there is fullness of joy.
If you feel that God is far away right now, and many people go through this, know that God says
“I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
The author of the Book of Hebrews knew the Jewish Christians would be familiar with those words because the psalmists so frequently wrote about the faithfulness of God and His being present with the humble and meek. Those first century Christians needed to know that. And we do now, don’t we?
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
The twenty-third Psalm might be the most memorized of all chapters of the Bible. For one thing, we’ve all pretty much passed through the valleys of the deep, dark shadows of death at least once in our life. We’ve all walked through experiences in life that were threatening but for David, he knew enough about God to have no fear of evil because the Great Shepherd could give him all the comfort he needed by having His rod of protection and correction in one hand while having the staff to comfort and bring him back by Him by the crook in the shepherd’s staff.
All these writers of the bible knew they could humbly abide with their trustworthy, loving God.
We can too! We can constantly be in conversation with Him about all things.
“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Not just our anxieties and immediate needs, but also our ways that don’t line up with His.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139: 23-24)
You see, He IS our good shepherd, just waiting for us to invite Him in so that He can lead us in His ways!
We need Him every moment, and He longs for an open, constant, loving conversation and relationship with you and me.
Will you invite Him, even right this minute, into that kind of life?
Here are some ways to begin that process…to begin to begin again!
- Meditate on scriptures that tell us of His goodness and trustworthiness.
- Set an alarm on your smartphone to remind you to turn to Him in prayer a certain amount of times per day. Mealtimes are a great time to do that!
- Begin a gratitude journal to write in once a day. This will begin to train your heart be aware of God’s presence and active hand in your life.
- Ask God to help you in this process of becoming aware and interactive with Him.
If you would like your own copy of The Practice of the Presence of God, by brother Lawrence, please click on the link below. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
I will be focusing for the next month on the practices that brother Lawrence wrote were necessary to develop the spiritual life.
Here’s a quick list to peak your interest!
- Finding constant pleasure in His divine company
- Conversing with God in little ways while we do our work
- Doing everything with great care
- Stopping for a few minutes – as often as possible – to praise God
- Adoring God in faith
- Carefully examining ourselves
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Linking up this week with these encouraging blogs: