Written by Dawn Rutan
As often happens to me, there has been a convergence of themes in books that I am reading. The first was a slightly modernized (in 1976) version of The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. The second was Real Presence: The Christian Worldview of C.S. Lewis as Incarnational Reality, by Leanne Payne. As you might guess, the general subject of both books is an awareness of God’s presence with us and in us in daily life.
As the Apostle Paul put it: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV), and “…the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
God’s presence is one of those subjects that is hard to comprehend. We are taught that He is omnipresent, though Scripture doesn’t use that exact language, and we certainly believe He hears us when we pray. And yet most of the time we don’t consider the fact that God is indeed present with us in every minute of the day, whether we’re working, relaxing, eating, or sleeping. Brother Lawrence wrote:
“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees before the Blessed Sacrament.”
As I was thinking about it the other night, it occurred to me that sometimes I don’t want to acknowledge God’s presence. I tend to write out my prayers as a way of keeping my mind focused. There is an underlying feeling that if I write something down or say it out loud, it is more real than if I just think it. So if there is something I don’t particularly want God’s opinion on, I imagine I can keep it to myself, as if God doesn’t know my thoughts better than I do. At times I’ve wished for someone to talk to, yet I’m reluctant to talk to the One with all the answers. I’m afraid He might tell me something I don’t want to hear.
How different would our lives and our prayers be if we acknowledged that God is always there? I’ve only skimmed a few pages of Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, but that seems to be a common theme for her as well. (I realize that book has been criticized by some for putting words in Jesus’ mouth.) Although there might be times that God’s presence is uncomfortable, when we don’t particularly want to obey, I suspect that most of the time it would result in greater peace and tranquility, joy, and love, and less concern with what others might think about us.
Leanne Payne writes:
“The unfallen Adam and Eve could hear God—and they could listen to Him. They had union and communion with the Life-Giver. They were, in other words, God-conscious and not self-conscious… They were channels of love to all creation. There is no doubt they blessed all they touched. Experiencing always the Real Presence of God, love flowed out from them; they were Sons of God who did not know separation from God” (60-61).
In this fallen world, our perception of God is veiled, as is our perception of ourselves and one another. Practicing the presence of God is developing the habit of remembering Who God is, abiding with Him, and watching for those moments when He pulls back the veil to reveal a little bit of His glory.
“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.” –Brother Lawrence