This time of year many Christian women tend to choose a “word of the year” they feel the Lord has spoken to them to focus on. This year the word the Lord has given me is, “Shepherd”. I think mainly because my earthly father was very harsh and could be quite hateful at times, so I’ve struggled with my view of my heavenly Father. He has been whispering to me how He is my daddy (Abba, Father). He is my shepherd who leads me, guides me, and protects me; and not only that, but He wants me to completely relax in His presence. My earthly father could be loving at times, but due to the times he was harsh, I found myself always on guard. Ready to be lashed out at. My heavenly Father doesn’t want that for me. He wants me to be relaxed in His presence, and at peace. He wants me to see Him as my refuge and my safe harbor in the storm.
So with that in mind, I’m trying to remember to focus on being always in His presence, because I am. He is always with me.
In that light, I recently read a devotional You Version that I’d like to share with you here:
From the You Version devotional, Practicing The Presence of God
Practicing His Presence
What we discovered in Day One, was that Brother Lawrence was just a simple cook with a straightforward practice. In his own words, he believed, “We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence by continually conversing with Him.” In Day Two, we saw that love must be the goal of all our spiritual practice, if any other motivation uproots love then we’ve missed the point. With this preliminary foundation poured, we’re now ready to look at the practice itself. How do we make a start in practicing the presence of God? Let’s take it in three steps:
Recognize God Is Already Present
The first step is to recognize that God is already present where we are. Remember the story of Jesus walking to Emmaus with two of his disciples? He was present among them but they didn’t recognize Him. Have we recognized Him? Have we acknowledged that He’s already with us? Brother Lawrence helps us see this when he writes:
“All we have to do is to recognize God as being intimately present within us. Then we may speak directly to Him every time we need to ask for help, to know His will in moments of uncertainty, and to do whatever He wants us to do in a way that pleases Him. We should offer our work to Him before we begin and thank Him afterward for the privilege of having done it for His sake.”
Before we begin our next work day, perhaps we could write out the following prayer, offered by Lawrence, and place it in the path of our work.
“My God, since You are with me and since, by Your will, I must occupy myself with external things, please grant me the grace to remain with You, in Your presence.”
Name Our Pots And Pans
How do we spend our days? What’s in our hands? For Brother Lawrence, he spent his time in a kitchen preparing meals and cleaning pots and pans. What are our pots and pans? What is the work that’s right in front of us, for God wants to work with us. Brother Lawrence writes:
Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things…
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
It is in the details, the nuts and bolts, the ins and outs, where God truly wants to work with us. The second step in practicing the presence of God is to claim our work for God, to acknowledge He wants to work with us, whether that’s selling cars, writing code, keeping children, or building homes. It’s in our actual work, the menial and the momentous, that God uses to shape us more and more into the image of His Son.
Speak To God Continually Throughout Your Day
The final step is simple and at the same time difficult: we have a continuous conversation with God as we move through our day. It’s simple because we’re used to making conversation, we do it everyday. It’s difficult because, on the whole, we’ve not been taught to chat with God as intimately as a friend and co-worker. Brother Lawrence writes,
“During my work, I would always continue to speak to the Lord as though He were right with me, offering Him my services and thanking Him for His assistance. Also, at the end of my work, I used to examine it carefully. If I found good in it, I thanked God. If I noticed faults, I asked His forgiveness without being discouraged, and then went on with my work, still dwelling in Him.”
To help us build this practice of a continuous conversation with God, there are a couple triggers we can use:
1. If any good thing, large or small, happens in our day we can immediately, right where we are, thank God for it. We can say it out loud, quietly under our breath, or if we’re in the middle of a conversation we can think it in our minds.
2. If any thing unpleasant happens in our day, ask God what he may be wanting to show us. Is there something in us that He wants to change or transform?
Brother Lawrence wrote so much for us to consider and implement. What we’ve explored in this plan today, is that there are three steps to begin practicing God’s presence: the first is to recognize He’s already present with us; the second is to acknowledge He wants to work with us in the actual tasks and duties we’re responsible for; and finally, we simply have a conversation with Him as we move through our day. Next, we’ll be looking at what happens when we meet resistance or make mistakes, we’ll discover how we keep one foot in front of the other as we learn to build the practice of His presence in the rhythm of our life.
1. Are there good things that pop into your day regularly that you can thank God for? What are they?
2. Think through your full day. Are there other times that would make for good triggers for chatting with God? What would they be? What would you say?
A pulse check is one simple way of practicing His presence. We can experiment with this little discipline anywhere. Here’s how it works: Close your eyes and place your thumb on your pulse, once you find it, sit quietly for sixty seconds. Keeping your eyes closed, thank God for sustaining you, for keeping you alive, for He holds all of our lives in His hands. Then, as you feel the rhythmic pulse, imagine you’re listening to the heartbeat of Jesus. Sense His immediate presence. Feel His nearness. Imagine Him at your side. As you move beyond the sixty seconds invite Jesus to remain with you throughout your day. Teaching you how to practice His presence all day long.
“Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord . Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord .” –Jeremiah 23:24 ESV
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ ” –Acts 17:26-28 ESV
This devotional led me to order Brother Lawrence’s book here: