PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Two important Scriptures:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

With God’s help, it is possible to be an image-bearer of Christ in the workplace — no matter how difficult. God will meet us right where we are in our lives.  Christians need to remember God initiated His relationship with us. He longs to commune with us. When we consider prayer as our identity, it is no longer an action as much as it is who we are in the world, as God’s beloved children. In prayer, we open ourselves to receiving this great gift of relationship and grace, especially needed when we are in our most difficult moments.

Practice of Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
At any moment and in any circumstance, the soul that seeks God may find Him, and practice the presence of God. Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century French monk, learned to practice the presence of God at all times. And you can, too. Many of the saints described prayer as “the breath of the soul,” including St Jane de Chantal, who defined prayer as “a wordless breathing of love in the immediate presence of God.” 

When we think of it this way, it is possible to envision a different practice of prayer: one that brings us mindfully to our breath and our life. St Francis of Assisi and St Francis Xavier both practiced breath prayer, which were very short prayers tied to the breath (St Francis of Assisi prayed “My God and My All,” and St Francis Xavier prayed “O beata Trinitas – O Blessed Trinity”). This approach to prayer is one that can help us connect with God amidst our busy lives.

It can be as simple as:

  • Taking a moment to breathe and acknowledge God’s presence with you.
  • Inhaling and picturing God filling you with love, mercy, goodness, or another attribute.
  • Exhaling slowly, releasing tension or other feelings that may be hindering you.
  • You can also develop a short prayer, similar to those above, focusing on a simple phrase or word, such as “Mercy,” “Grace,” or “Love.”

God is with us and dwells within us at all times (John 14: 16-17). Continuing to John 14: 23, we are invited to come and make our home within God. When we see that God is all around us and within us, we can rest in knowing that we are surrounded by God’s presence and invited to come home to God on a regular basis.

Knowing that we carry the Holy Spirit with us wherever we go means that we also carry the presence of Jesus into all of our interactions, spaces, and relationships. As we learn to listen to the Spirit better, we also learn to listen to God’s people. They offer us opportunities to gain the wisdom, guidance, or encouragement the Spirit wishes to impart upon us, as long as we are open to listen. As we carry the presence of Jesus wherever we go, we can also practice his gentle attentiveness and listening, which opens our eyes to God’s most valued treasure: humanity. In being present with people, we honour God and experience joyful grace.

A few things we can do to help us practice presence include:

  • Develop a daily habit of remembering you carry Jesus with you into every situation
  • Remind yourself that the person in front of you bears the image of, and is precious to, God.
  • Set an intention to be present with the person you are with. Give them your full attention.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for the whispers of God in the various situations you find yourself in. What is God saying or doing? How can you discern God’s heart in the situation?

This article is based on Tricia Rhodes’ Spiritual Health Amidst Chaos course available at Fuller Theological Seminary. 

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