Practicing the presence of God in your prayers
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
Practicing the presence of God in our prayer life is always a challenge for the sincere Christian. Sometimes we feel that our prayers go no higher than the ceiling, if that high! How do we practice the presence of God? How do we know he is there when we pray?
The Bible has many examples for us of those who prayed and God answered. I like the story of Gideon. His prayers were really audacious! He prayed for specific answers to his prayer for a sign that God was leading him. In the morning the fleece was wet and the ground all around was dry. The next morning, the fleece was dry and the ground all around was wet. Most of us are not given that kind of assurance, and we have to find a way of practicing the presence of God in other ways.
Matthew 6:5-8 gives us good advice on how to pray. Don’t be so ready to show off in public, but go to your room, close the door and pray. Then, he will reward you in public. This is followed by the “How-to Prayer” that starts, “Our Father….” Verses 14 and 15 are the very personal and hard conditions required: We need to forgive if we are to be forgiven. And if we do not forgive…then the Father will not forgive our sins.”
One of the more famous writers about prayer was Brother Lawrence. His classic book: Practicing God’s Presence: Brother Lawrence for Today’s Reader has been revised and updated by Robert Elmer (NavPress, 2005).
This 17th century French monk is best known for his example of the contemplative life. He practiced God’s presence every minute of his day while working as a monastery cook. Brother Lawrence began his daily duties with this prayer;
“Oh my God, I’m obeying now your command to pay attention to what I’m doing here. Since I know you’re with me, I ask you please grant me grace to stay and continue in your presence. Please help me. I give you the work of my hands and the fruit of all my affections.”
Then, at the end of the day, if Brother Lawrence had done his duties well, he returned thanks to God. If not, he asked pardon and grace to continue on in God’s presence. “By getting right back up after I fall,” he said, “and by keeping my walk of faith and love fresh and alive, I’ve gotten to the place where it would be just as hard for me not to think of God, as it was in the beginning, to get used to the idea.”
Most of us feel too busy, too stretched, to have much of a contemplative life. Lani Carroll Hinkle in a recent edition of Pray! magazine gives suggestions to help us and our families, to practice contemplation in our daily lives and activities:
1. Always begin each day with prayer.
Repeat the Brother Lawrence prayer.
2. Try doing the dinner dishes one evening in silence.
Think of Jesus.
3. Eat a meal without talking.
Think of the Last Supper.
4 Take a walk together in silence.
Imagine being a disciple walking with Jesus.
5. Go outside at night and look at the stars.
Think about God, our great Creator.
At the end of each activity, meditate on your thoughts and what God revealed to you.
Then, following the example of Brother Lawrence, go on practicing the presence of God!
The Territorial Call to Prayer ministry mobilizes Prayer Partners to pray for Urgent Prayer Needs sent weekly to every corps and institution in the Western Territory by e-mail or by listening to the toll free telephone message on the SA Prayerline, 1-877-347-PRAY.