Practicing the Presence of God


About that broken arm.... Hang with me for a second.

For several months, I have been studying and practicing the spiritual discipline of solitude. I've mentioned it before, here and here. I have enjoyed solitude so much and what it is developing in my soul, that I am now working on a little Guide to Solitude for you. It's coming soon. I promise.

Along the way, my endless jabbering about solitude piqued my husband's interest. Consequently, he's reading Dallas Willard books again. I'm reading Henri Nouwen, Deitrich Bonhoeffer and Brother Lawrence. The house is filled with stacks of books on the contemplative life. We could start a library! (Or a monastery?)

Comparing notes, Chris was explaining to me that Dallas Willard's main point in Hearing God is that God is with us all the time. I know, I know, but he means it literally. Like sitting next to us in the car, "with us." If we truly grasp that, it changes the way we pray. It changes the way we go through our day.

With this understanding of the presence of God, our prayers become more conversational and our expectations within the conversation become more natural. I could say to God, "I need help thinking up activities to keep the kids busy indoors today." And then, with this new mindset, I pause and wait for a reply. I take a beat and wait for a reply because I expect a reply is coming. That's how conversations work. It's how it works with my BFF over coffee or with my sister via text. I wait because I know I'm not speaking into an empty room. No, I'm speaking to someone I know and love so I expect the conversation to continue.

I've been practicing this presence of God. Holding an ongoing conversation for days on end. And, I'll tell you, it's been a game changer for me.

And then, my daughter broke her arm. Here was an opportunity to take this conversational presence of God thing to new levels.

I knew her arm was broken the second I saw it. My gut wanted to freak out. Cry. Call Chris. Call an ambulance. Not really. (Well, sort of.) But my soul stopped me. It was already reaching out to its Creator. It started talking immediately.

  • God, what do I do?

  • Get her in the car. Start driving toward the doctor's office.

  • Should I call Chris?

  • Yes, call him in the car.

  • Should I cry?

  • Not yet.

I'm not kidding. It went just like that.

That is the presence of God. That is the voice of God. It can be heard but it takes practice. For me, it took a lot of silence and stillness and a new mindset. But I heard Him. And you can too.

Let all our employment be to know God; the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him. And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love; and if our love of God were great, we should love him equally in pains and pleasures.

Brother Lawrence from The Practice of the Presence of God

The more we know God, the more we love him. And just like the ones we love most dearly on earth (our spouses, our children, our friends), the more we love him, the more we want to be with him. When we are with him, we can hear him. That is the simple path to practicing the presence of God.

Know Him >> Love Him >> Hear Him