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Focus On

Practicing the Presence of God

Focus On: Contemplation

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God go with you as you go," I said to the visiting missionary before he left.

"That is what we always need," he responded, looking me in the eye. "An awareness of the Lord—that alone comforts, convicts, and kindles."

His words spoke deeply into my heart, echoing A. W. Tozer: "[T]he Presence of God is the central fact of Christianity. At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push into conscious awareness of His Presence."

We intellectually know this is true—but how do we push into a constant awareness of the presence of God?

Contemplation. The deliberate, prayerful reflection on God, his will, his world, and his works.

Brother Lawrence, a humble cook who connected with God in the kitchen 400 years ago, penned letters to a friend that now make up the book The Practice of the Presence of God. "We should establish ourselves in a sense of God's presence by continually conversing with Him," he wrote. Brother Lawrence believed as David did: "I can never get away from your presence!" (Psalm 139:7). He knew that God is "everywhere in all the heavens and the earth" (Jeremiah 23:24). God's amazing, powerful, beloved presence was right there in the kitchen, as Brother Lawrence washed dishes or quartered potatoes, transforming normal routine moments into soul-sustaining encounters with the Almighty.

The same is true for our kitchens—and our workplaces, neighborhood sidewalks, city streets, front stoops—every place we go, God is present. Even when our minds may be necessarily occupied with other thoughts, Brother Lawrence taught, we can still remain connected with God's presence. "It is the heart," he wrote, "whose attention we must carefully focus on God."

The Word-God (John 1:1) becomes present to us as we live in this endless interchange of words with him—reading his Word; listening in our hearts for his words to us; responding with hushed, awed words of our own. Isn't this what it means to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) as we live in constant connection to his presence? We "go with God" as we open our hearts to this stunning reality of his miraculous, moment-by-moment presence.

Excerpted from the Everyday Matters Bible for Women, copublished by Hendrickson Publishers and Christianity Today.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2012, November/December
Posted December 17, 2012

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