When people are accustomed to being reminded of God’s presence in a church building during a church service—and you may not be able to do that—how can you build awareness of God’s presence outside of the building? How can you help them see that God is still here, still with us, still in us, still at work in the world around us? We are a people who need constant reminding.
We often think of God in terms of the spectacle or the spectacular. Yet God is not only in the mighty thunder but also in the soft quiet whisper. So how do we experience God not only in the spectacular but also in the horrible times, the confusing times, the ordinary times, the mundane times? For God is there as well.
Make God’s presence expected
Consider this thought from 17th century monk Brother Lawrence, “He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.” ― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
A question I like to ask every week in the group I lead is, “How did you experience God this week?” It’s an intentional—yet open-ended—question. And if you ask it every week, people know it’s coming. They prepare. They are looking for God each week because they know they will be asked how they experienced him. As one man put it, “Knowing that this question will be asked every week, I am now starting to look at where God is working and how I am experiencing him in the midst of this. It’s increasing my awareness of God. I am seeing him showing up all over the place. I’m getting sensitized to where he is at work.”
4 Practical ways to increase awareness of God’s presence in daily life:
1. Pay attention each day to where, when, and how you are most aware of God in your life. Keep a brief journal.
There is undeniably something special about raising voices together during a worship service. However, Covid has challenged the Church to search for that feeling outside of the building. In Psalms 139:7-12 we find a beautiful reminder that God’s presence is to be found wherever we are. In fact, it is inescapable. Maybe you find yourself in an attitude of prayer on your daily walk or as you do chores. Perhaps you wake up feeling excited to read scripture spend and time in prayer, or maybe you are filled with gratitude and a longing to connect to God just before bed. Keep a brief journal of where, when, and how you feel closest to God.There is undeniably something special about raising voices together during a worship service. However, Covid has challenged the Church to search for that feeling outside of the building. Click To Tweet
2. As you read through scripture, pay attention to what God seems to be highlighting for you about himself through the scriptures.
It never ceases to amaze me when scriptures that I have read before, memorized even, jump out at me in a new and profound way. The scripture hasn’t changed, the Spirit reveals new insight on the Father through the Word. When we are given new insight through scripture we need to allow our understanding of God to grow.When we are given new insight through scripture we need to allow our understanding of God to grow. Click To Tweet
3. Set aside time to ask God questions and practice listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Our relationship with God needs to be a priority. Whether Covid has left you with time on your hands or feeling busier than ever, its a good idea to create a habit that makes space to work on that relationship. Take a look back at your journal of where, when, and how you are most aware of God’s presence and build on it. Doing so can help you become more aware of the constancy of God’s presence and involvement.Our relationship with God needs to be a priority. Click To Tweet
4. Look for ways to respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit in real time.
God often uses people as his hands and feet. That prompting you feel to do a small act of kindness can be really significant in the life of the recipient. How can you act on what you are hearing to effectively share God’s love with others?God often uses people as his hands and feet. That prompting you feel to do a small act of kindness can be really significant in the life of the recipient. Click To Tweet
What are some other ways we can help one another raise our awareness of God’s presence and his work in the world?
Organized according to the tree diagram above, Guide for Discipling offers a holistic approach to growing as a disciple of Jesus. New and seasoned Christians alike will find encouragement as they examine a variety of aspects of Christian living. The end result will be transformation– not of ourselves only– but of others and the whole of the community around us.
Experiencing God, at the root of the tree, focuses on the way we interact and dialogue with God, the way we become increasingly aware of his presence, and how we continue to form a more personal relationship with him. This root is necessary for all of the other areas, as they flow out of our experience of God.
Spiritual Responsiveness then builds on those roots as we seek to listen to God and respond to the voice of his Spirit in obedience. From there, the branches can be worked through in any order, according to what you are hearing from God.
This blog entry is part of a series called “Journey toward a new beginning.” Each entry explores a different topic in light of the Covid-related question: “What if things stay the way they are for the next three to four years? What would you do?” You can see the original blog entry here.