being free

I like being free. I like the way it feels.

13 April 2010

practicing the presence part iii

I am coming to find that to practice the Presence of God one must develop a moment by moment habit of interacting with God. This habit is established by a series of definite acts of the will, and of practical choices to acknowledge Christ. It does not come as a spontaneous and irresistible impulse, you have to begin by an act of faith, and you must repeat it until it becomes a habit. Over time it becomes more and more natural, quite possibly as natural as breathing.

What then are those definite acts of the will to cultivate a continual awareness of God? These acts are what I believe Paul talked about in Galatians 6:8-9 when he described the importance of sowing to the Spirit. The more we willfully sow to the Spirit, the more we will reap the benefits of such actions. It is not easy work. Sowing is hard, yet it is rewarded with a harvest of joy in God.

Here are some practical ways to actively sow to the Spirit:

Start the day with God. Start every morning by acknowledging God’s love and salvation in Christ. Spend time reading the Scriptures to renew your mind in the truth of who God is and who you are in Christ. (Mark 1:35; Romans 12:1-2)

Recognize God as near. Regularly take moments throughout your day to recognize God’s nearness. This can be a simple glance in his direction. You could think about setting your phone alarm to go off every hour to help remind you to turn your gaze towards God. You could also have your screen saver say something that directs your attention towards God. (Philippians 4:4-5)

Be watchful of the senses. Watch your attitude, your level of frustration, your lustfulness, and your discouragement level. If your attitude is bad or your heart in the wrong place bring it to the Lord. Confess it, recognize his forgiveness, ask him to fill you with his Spirit and truth, and start afresh. (Colossians 4:2; Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 1:8-10)

Pray internally. Before you take up any task, pray in your heart to God, even if it is only for a moment. You could give thanks, ask for strength, or commit what you are doing to God and his glory. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Do little things for the love of God. This is about bringing God into everyday occurrences. Brother Lawrence says “We can do little things for God. I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for the love of Him… It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” Whatever you do, whether it is washing dishes, writing a letter, or doing school work, do it all for the love of God. (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

Listen and respond. If you sense God directing you to do something or sense a prompting from his Spirit, act on it. John 15 equates abiding in Christ with obedience. (John 15:9-17; Hebrews 3:7-4:13)

Serve others in love. Look for opportunities to love people by serving them. John 15’s equation of abiding in Christ through obedience is directed towards our love for others. If we remain in love we remain in God. (John 13:1-17; John 15:9-17; 1 John 5:12, 16)

Give thanks. Take moments to thank God! Acknowledge the goodness of his provisions, creation, salvation, and Presence. You can do this before you eat, while driving in the car, while going for a walk, or sitting on the couch with your kids. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Close the day with God. Close each day with reflection, thanksgiving and recognition of God’s Presence. Reflect on the times throughout the day when you were aware of God’s presence and the times you were not. Reflect on the attitude of your heart during the day. Realign your heart with God as needed. Seek him for grace to remain conscious of his Presence each and every day. (Psalm 63:6)

Don’t give up! Developing the habit of being aware of God’s Presence and abiding in his love is not easy. It takes work. The fruit of the labor however, is well worth the effort. The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is worth it! (Galatians 5:22; 6:9)

Many of the habit forming actions I described are practices I am learning. Some of them are from the teachings of Brother Lawrence, others are from the teachings A. B. Simpson, and still others are ideas I have picked up along the way. I have experienced good fruit from sowing these actions. Still, I have a long way to go in remaining conscious of God’s Presence and of doing all for the love of Him. I am convinced however, that the acts/practices I have described are essential for practicing the Presence of God.


Post a Comment

<< Home