This is a guest post from a friend and mentor, Kandy. She and her husband have lived and worked in Asia for the last twenty years! There they’ve been involved in church planting and have raised two great daughters (now one married with child and one in college) to boot. I met Kandy as I prepared to live overseas and soon found her to be an inspiring mentor. Just a few minutes with her and before I know it, I’m ready to push harder and know Jesus more. Read on and I think you’ll agree.
I’m reminded of my last internet order. The site was not well developed and page after page of information was needed before I could press “submit.” I finally found the phone number and quickly completed the process with a “real person.”
My quiet times can look like this sometimes. I get to the right page and begin filling out all the forms, when all along, Jesus is calling me to enter into His presence. He calls me to get before Him, look at Him and allow Him to look at me. Not only is the form unnecessary, I also don’t have to sit around wasting time waiting for the order. The need is Him. When I am in His Presence, I already have what it is that I need.
How often do we come away from our times of quiet without having really sat with Jesus? I am ashamed to admit all too often every single week! Yet, herein is the goal: Practicing the Presence of God. “David sought the Presence of the Lord” and found that “in His Presence is fullness of joy“. As we are reminded to practice Presence we find that He actually is doing the lasting work. We will find the mountains that lie before us melt away. And in the simplicity of this devotion will come “times of refreshing“.
I have purposed to keep reminding myself all throughout the day that Jesus really desires that where He is, I would be there, too. I say it aloud or just think it to myself often. As I wash my mind with this Truth, He has begun to add verses or songs that pop into my mind randomly. I am learning to never take for granted random praise songs or even just snatches of verses. They are always from Him. He is always trying to speak through memory.
I have found that I perk up and pay attention if a Scripture phrase or praise song is replaying itself in my head at all times. This is directly from Him and should be counted as such – holy and divine! As I begin to actually believe this fact (that Jesus wants to be with me), I refocus random thoughts back towards Him. It’s discouraging at first. I do it so poorly.
BUT, Jesus knows that it will be difficult. He knows that this is against our nature. This doesn’t surprise Him at all. In fact, He expects it. He knows that there is no submission in our flesh. He’s been dealing with the rebellious and wandering for years. Yet, He also has the antidote for the illness. It’s Him.
As He sees that you are serious about the push towards Him, He will begin to bind the worthless thoughts up more quickly. When you are frustrated because it seems you can’t focus on Jesus for more than 30 seconds, confess it to Him, let Him know that this whole idea is impossible for you, and ask Him for strength to focus. Slowly, He will begin to pour out thoughts of Himself and how you can please Him. Of course, you can do your part by spending more time in the Word and by singing praise songs in your head when you are busy or in-between something.
Unlike all other lovers, our God uses spiritual methods with which to reach us. When we believe that the Scriptures, songs, and promptings in our head are Jesus’ advances toward us, this strengthens our spirits to more easily recognize Him the next time.
Brother Lawrence addresses this very thing: “In the beginning you may spend your appointed time of prayer simply rejecting wandering thoughts, and then falling back into thinking them. Some devotional methods may not work for you, but eventually you will develop a sweet time of fellowship with God.” This was very encouraging to me. Now and again I can actually see that the only failure is within me when I decide it’s not going to work and give up “rejecting wandering thoughts.”
- We must get it through our heads, “Jesus is pursuing me!”
- We must believe it in our hearts, “He is following me!”
- We must live life knowing that “He thinks about me all the time.”
Religion is often the biggest hindrance to the true presence of Christ. With our forms of religion come certain expectations as to what is expected of us – certain rules for how we will spend our time. When we focus on Jesus’ Presence, we can walk in the freedom that He calls us into. Sometimes the forms are helpful. Sometimes, we need to throw away the forms and just pick up the phone.
“When you practice the presence of God, you will be contented and satisfied, enjoying the treasure of God’s presence in your life rather than being in an anxious search for Him.” Brother Lawrence
How do you practice remembering Jesus’ presence in your day to day activity? How do you stay focused when praying?
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