One of the most powerful disciplines we can engage in as Christians is practicing the presence of Christ. The classic work on this is Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence (available in many different formats and prices on Amazon.com and many other places). In it Brother Lawrence mentions the different approaches he used to remind himself of God’s presence with him at all times–Brother Lawrence is the man who talks about “games with minutes” and is famously known for practicing the presence of God while washing the dishes, which to me is simultaneously encouraging and discouraging.
Many people with I’ve spoken with about practicing the presence of God or Jesus say they simply can’t do it–that they’re not wired that way. I don’t buy that. Think about it: when you fall in love with someone, you think about them all the time. you yearn for them when they are not there, you keep your body angled towards them when they are in the same room but not next to you. You are effectively practicing their presence when they’re not next to you.
This highly sensitive (and perhaps highly strung) tuning does change as you grow into a relationship. Right now, John is in the room next to me. I have an awareness of his location in the house. When I come home after being out, the first this I do is I find out where he is in the house. I always have a little piece of my mind listening for him. I have to be really concentrating on something else to not hear him when he calls to me, regardless of how softly he speaks. If he were to sneak out of the house, I would come into an awareness of his absence with a matter of minutes. I’d start looking for him. I’d call him if I couldn’t find him. Maybe you’re not like this with your spouse, but you are with your child.
When the Bible talks about Jesus as the bridegroom and us–the Church–as the bride, there are certain realities that are implied and transferable to our personal relationships with him. The highly-tuned love between husband and wife is one of them.
So I do think you can practice the presence of God.
The key to practicing the presence of God as a spiritual discipline is finding a way to do it that works for you. Brother Lawrence’s “games with seconds and minutes” doesn’t work for me because I have such dislike for competition–even competition with myself! There have been times that a certain distasteful task will prompt me to be mindful of God. but sometimes when that subject becomes less distasteful I forget to practice the presence of God anymore!
Just as in any relationship dynamics change, circumstances change, “real life” interferes–and how you relate to God changes. Expect that the places and prompts that you use to remind you of God’s presence now will change over time. Just be mindful of the changes and keep looking for the new ways God wants you to be mindful of him.
This is a big topic that I certainly can’t cover in just one post. So I’m starting a series called “A Moment with God” that’s about practicing His presence. I’d like to address spiritual disciplines that set us up to become more aware of Christ’s presence, then look at other options besides dish washing and self-competition to might help you to see God’s hand at work more and more throughout your day.
If you have any questions or topic suggestions for this series, please feel free to comment! Both are most welcome.