Practicing the Presence

man sitting and praying

God wants his children to talk to him about everything.  I like how Brother Lawrence, a monk from the 17th Century, challenges us to not limit in any way our conversations with God.

“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.”

It is ridiculous for us to think that we can hide anything from God. Because God already knows every one of our impure thoughts or selfish desires, talking to him about them makes perfect sense. A book I read recently about fighting sexual temptation contained some very transparent prayers, prayed by the author, that encouraged every man to talk to God directly in moments of temptation. Can you imagine praying a prayer something like this?

“Father God, I see that woman over there wearing the short skirt and the low-cut blouse. Everything in me wants to stare at her lustfully. By the way, you really knew what you were doing when you created the female body—wow! It seems as if staring at her will bring pleasure and fulfillment, but I know where this will lead. It will only take me down the dark road of non-fulfillment, causing me to crave even more. I really need your help right now. Please help me redirect my thoughts to the beautiful wife you have given me. Remind me that she is my one and only—the legitimate place for real sexual fulfillment. Help me, Lord!”

Perhaps talking to God about such things might seem undignified or irreverent. But God knows you even better than you know yourself (look at Psalm 139), and he greatly desires to change you to make you more like Jesus. Knowing that, this kind of praying makes perfect sense.

Prayer is a two-way conversation. It is asking, but it is also listening. At times in my life, God has spoken to me so clearly, in such a compelling way, that his voice came very close to being audible. Once this happened when I was 21 years old, very self-righteous in my belief that I belonged to the “right church” and had the “right theology.” I was attending a retreat with many other Christians hailing from different denominations, and the Lord made it very clear to me that I had much to learn from Baptists and Pentecostals—if I would only humble myself. Another time, I heard the Lord clearly telling me in my spirit to become a father to a fatherless girl. I also heard the inner voice of the Lord, speaking clearly and powerfully, when I asked him to tell me what he thought of me. He told me how much he loved me—how precious I was to him.

Brother Lawrence calls the praying life “the practice of the presence of God.” Life is too short not to talk to someone who is always present with us and loves us more than we know.

 REFLECTIONS: What reminders can you put in your daily life to remind you of God’s presence?  Push yourself to become more and more conscious of God’s presence each day, increasing the percentage of your day that you are aware of Him.  Try to pray about things you normally wouldn’t talk to God about.  When you pray, make a habit of stopping and listening for at least as long as you speak.

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-10


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