“In Your presence is fullness of joy, and at Your right hand are pleasures forever.”
I had prayed for years to have a life where I sensed God’s presence not just in my prayer times but even in the hard times where, in the past, things would come at me at a million miles an hour and that lovely tethering to God that I felt in morning prayer would become detached, and I would float aimlessly away like a hot air balloon.
This month’s practice is simple: Just connect. Stop and realize he is present with you at that very moment. That is all. Nothing more and nothing less. Connect to his presence in the present moment. Not worrying about the future or percolating about the past.
Training yourself to connect to him might mean you set an alarm as a reminder. You might start by saying, “God, you are here already. Help me to be aware of that.” You might take in a deep breath. He is like the air – always there even though you cannot see him and always giving you life.
Start with reminding yourself maybe just once in the middle of the day. Stop and savor his presence. Linger as long or as short as you want. As the month proceeds, you can practice this more and more often in a day. If setting an alarm helps, do that. I have an alarm that tells me to stand up and walk around every hour (I am a very focused person and can find myself sitting for far too long). Similarly, you might set an alarm that reminds you to connect with God. Whatever you do, don’t set unrealistic expectations of yourself. Start simple. Then, make those connecting times more and more frequent as you see God meeting you right where you are.
As you find yourself practicing his presence more and more frequently, you might even begin to see yourself connecting in the least expected places like when kids are screaming or a driver has cut you off on the road or you find yourself in the “slow line” in the grocery store. Last week, while waiting for a table at a very crowded restaurant on my 30th anniversary, instead of stewing about how long it was taking, I saw it as an opportunity to connect to God’s presence in the moment. It was a calm and peaceful wait.
You might even find yourself responding to things in a very unusual way. For example, minutes after I made the video introducing this month’s practice, my phone bounced out of its holder on my bike and crashed onto the street, shattering a big part of the screen. I cried out in frustration, and then I remembered that this was a perfect opportunity to connect to his presence right there in the middle of the street at 6:45 in the morning. He was there!
We have done this practice with groups over the last decade, and we are always delighted to find how much they enjoy it. Find a buddy you can team up with and share your experiences of practicing his presence. It can be very life-giving for both of you.
I highly recommend two short books that are testimonies to the delight of being intentional about connecting with God’s presence. You can purchase them, but I have also linked PDF versions:
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank Laubach.
Let me know how it goes!