What Is “Practicing God’s Presence”?
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
~ John 15:4
The Bible calls us to “abide,” or “remain,” in Christ. His Word speaks of “walking with God” and “keeping in step with the Spirit.” In my book Life in the Presence of God, I explain that people have alternatively called this abiding process “practicing the presence of God”, a phrase popularized by the collected sayings of a 17th-century French monk named Brother Lawrence.
“By practice,” I write in my book, I mean “discerning and developing habits of awareness of God’s presence—if not all day, every day, at least much more often than most of us typically do.”*
I go on to explain that this is not something extraordinary meant only for “superspiritual” people, but it’s God’s call on every Christian. In John 15:5, for example, Jesus calls His followers to abide in Him as a branch abides in a vine. Without doing so, He says we can do nothing of lasting value. Other images of ongoing practice include setting our minds on the things above, loving God and neighbor, running with endurance, walking with the Spirit, and so on. None of these are once-and-done actions.
Why is this important to grasp? I write:
“It [the world around you] clamors for every bit of your attention, and usually, because it’s loud and incessant, it wins. Christians are often taught that our main line of defense against this clamorous, invasive world is a daily quiet time. If we’re disciplined enough to practice this, we usually ‘complete’ it before leaving our homes in the morning. Then we head out into the rest of our day, having compartmentalized our God life, leaving our Bible and our relationship with Jesus on our desk or bedside table. ”
“Sure, it’s good to give the first—or the last—moments of our day to God. But what about the rest of the day? It’s so easy for our hearts and heads to end up somewhere else. Is that how God really wants us to live? Is that what he really had in mind when he said he’d give us abundant life (John 10:10)? I’m proposing that we take our life with God—and our awareness of his presence—with us everywhere, not just into our quiet times but into our noisy times too, incorporating practices into our lives that help us keep that awareness right in front of us, throughout the day, every day.”**
I then make this statement: “Anyone can do this!” Anyone, that is, who has first placed their trust in Christ. For those who have, I encourage you to think about just one way you can train yourself to seek God, and become aware of His presence, in your everyday routine. After all, sometimes the smallest acts of love and obedience change everything.
*Quoted from Kenneth Boa, Life in the Presence of God: Practices for Living in Light of Eternity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017), p. 1.
**Ibid., p. 2.
Lord, make me aware of your presence throughout the day. Amen.
~ Ken Boa
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England.