On August 8th of this year my blog post was about living in the totality of who we are, bringing our full selves to our lives, to whoever we are with and to whatever we are doing. When we’re talking about our Christian lives, above all, we need to be present to God, not to just believe in Him, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We need to know, to love God with our whole selves, like Jesus says about the first of the Two Great Commandments in Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” Believing in God and in the Trinity is not enough at all, we are to love God with every part of ourselves, heart, soul, body, and mind, with the wisdom from each part of our whole selves.
Of course, believing in the Trinity is the first step, but then we will need to follow Jesus wherever He would lead us in order to fulfill the first part of the Two Great Commandments. I am sure there are different ways to be present to God, but the two that I have found most useful are Centering Prayer (or other forms of meditation) and keeping a gratitude journal. In Centering Prayer, one sits quietly in meditation and deals with the thinking mind by choosing a word or a very short phrase (mine is “Oh, Lord”) to say when our minds start thinking again. Gradually working up to at least a 30 minute session daily, we learn to rest in His presence, following Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The second part of our practice of Centering Prayer is to become an observer of our thoughts as they come up in us. As we continue our practice, we will find that most of the thoughts that arise are repetitive, happening over and over again. We can begin to identity the source of some of them as our parents, or maybe a teacher or a young friend. They have been with us from our early childhood. So, I have named them “Old Friends!” And now, when they arise in my mind while I am doing Centering Prayer, I smile at them, greeting my “old Friends,” but then, letting them fade away. No longer do they command my attention.
The second practice that was most helpful to me came when a friend at my church asked me to co-lead a gratitude group. Each participant was asked to keep a gratitude journal daily. I quickly discovered that I was going to have to look for, to really see, what God was doing in my life during each day if I was to have anything to write down each evening. I continued that practice for about 10 years, so that seeing God in my life on a daily basis and expressing my gratitude about each thing became such a great blessing.
His presence in our lives, His blessings and/or challenges for us, His suggestions to us of what to do now or what to focus on or whom to meet, His answers to our prayers all speak of His presence in our lives on a daily basis. What is most important for us is to be aware of this help and support in what we are to be doing throughout our days. And then, to be grateful for all the love and support and guidance He gives us, as we follow Jesus to become servants of the Lord.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I present to God’s presence in my life, His suggestions, His blessings, His spiritual presence, His challenges to me? Can I hear His “still, small voice” in my noisy mind? What would I have to give up to become aware of all that He does for me and in me? Can I even imagine what it would be like to always have His help and support seen or felt in me?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who walk and do everything in our lives in His presence. May we lead the fulfilled and purposeful life that He designed just for each of us.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will email it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.