“The Practice of the Presence of God” is the title given to the writings of Brother Lawrence who, in the late 1600s, lived for more than 40 years in a monastery in France. Giving credit to Brother Lawrence, I slightly modified my title to add the words “living in”. “Living in the Presence of God” is a more contemporary formulation of the same principles lived by Brother Lawrence. In this website, I explain how I endeavor to practice Christian spirituality and to live out my Christian faith.
The word “practice” means an intentional choice—a decision made by me. It is to choose to live my life believing that at all times I am living in the presence of the Living God. It is a spiritual discipline—as is prayer and reading the Scriptures. It involves an intentional effort to integrate all aspects of my life, personal, family, professional, life with others—all unified by the fact that they too live in the presence of God—whether or not they are aware of such. The word “practice” inherently recognizes that we never fully arrive—at least not in this life—and always need to make the choice to live on the basis that God and God’s love are in our presence.
“Living in the Presence of God” for me means that I remind myself, many times a day, as often as I can, that I am living my life and responding to the people and events of my life mindful that I am living them in the presence of God. Not a “higher power”, but for me, the Living God who created the universe and all that is within it and who sustains and recreates every day! This is the Living God of the Old and New Testaments who the church recognizes in 3 persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The “presence of God” is revealed in countless ways once, in faith, we choose to recognize that God has chosen to dwell with us. St. Patrick said in his famous “Breastplate Hymn”:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger….
For me, there is no exact place where God is present. And yet, that God is with us— present with us—in an incomprehensible and mysterious way is truth for me. Although God does not speak audibly and cannot be seen with human eyes, that God is here is unmistakable and undeniable for me. The Creator God is visible in all of God’s creation! All one needs is the gift of “God-colored glasses” to see the world as the handiwork of our loving, creating God. The presence of the Risen Lord Jesus is revealed in the gifts of love and support from God’s children who themselves become as the hands and the heart of our Lord. The presence of the Holy Spirit is revealed in mysterious and delightful ways: the right word, the unexpected affirmation or rebuke that we hear touch our souls and guide our direction.
So, in summary, living in the presence of God means my choice made countless times a day to live my life present with God and to give thanks to God for God’s choice to be present with me!
I thought for a time that all who recognize their true status as children of God would be aware of the practice living in the presence of God. What I have come to know is that this is not so. Also, I have come to know of so many people who in fact live in the presence of God, but are not aware that it is a recognized spiritual discipline.
Of course, the truth is that many who know me may not know that I endeavor to live my life in the presence of God—at least based upon many of the choices that I have made in how I live my life. How sad for me, and how important it is to recognize that choosing to live in the presence of God gives no assurance of right conduct or special blessing.
It is what I said at the outset: a spiritual discipline, and one of several disciplines that lead to a truly closer walk with God!