I have been in group situations wherein the leader would invite us to join in prayer by saying, “Let us put ourselves in the presence of God.” I knew the intended meaning; but, then, I got thinking about it more literally. God is with us all the time. He is always present. The idea of putting ourselves in his presence, of course, means that we intentionally and mindfully focus on the transcendence of our loving Father. We give full attention to our prayerful encounter.
Nowadays it is not easy to eliminate distractions. Distractions are so accessible. Of course, some distractions are unavoidable, especially if we have large families or special needs in our family situations. The devil likes to distract us and is very clever at doing so. The last thing the devil wants is for us to strengthen and grow in our relationship with God.
When I first tried centering prayer—during which I tried not to pray rote prayers or even spontaneous word-prayers, but to just be and enjoy God’s presence in the voluntary silence of the present. I did not find it easy!
Taking slow, deep breaths helps. A quick “I am sorry for all my sins, Lord” helps to clear the proverbial slate so a fresh start is easier. Inviting the Holy Spirit to help with the chilling-out process is a good strategy.
I think about the lyrics to the song, “I Can Only Imagine” by Bard Millard. The words of the song describe a person wondering what it will be like to be in the presence of the Lord. Would he stand, kneel, or dance before God? What an awesome experience!
In Exodus 33:18-20, Moses asks to see God’s glory,
And he (God) said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim
before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,
and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my
face; for no one shall see me and live.”
When we roll or jump out of bed in the morning, being aware of God’s presence in our lives might not be the first thing that pops into our minds, but what if it were? What if we invited awareness of a gracious, merciful God into our consciousness first and foremost? Comfort, hopefulness, and even power might give us that added boost we need to get started on the day. Except for emergencies, maybe the emails, voicemails and messages could wait a little longer to be acknowledged or answered.
Psalm 16 conveys a sense of rejoicing in the trust and security we find in God’s presence.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” (V. 2)
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. (V. 5)
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage. (V. 6)
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. (V. 9)
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (V. 11)
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.