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3 Tips to Recognize the Presence of God

Bible verses and tips to help you recognize the Lord in your life.

3 Tips to Recognize the Presence of God
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Psalmist sings, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8). Surely God inhabits every nook and cranny of our lives—except for the parts that we close against Him. When we don’t sense God is there, it’s not because He’s absent. It’s because we have not developed a deep awareness of His presence. It takes practice.

Nearly 600 years ago a priest in France compiled the sayings of a humble and holy lay brother named Lawrence. The resulting booklet, The Practice of the Presence of God, has helped Christians for centuries. It was one of John Wesley’s favorite books. Here are three pointers I’ve gleaned from this little gem:

1. Make love of God the aim of all our actions.
Brother Lawrence notes that the simplest—or hardest—task is transformed when we do it for love of God. We need to give Jesus everything: our aversions, our suffering and the minutiae of our days. Brother Lawrence says we must do this out of love, seeking no return, and “seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will, whether He lead us by suffering or by consolation.” The more of ourselves we give to God, the more we will know His presence. “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

2. Look for God’s goodness in all things.
Too often we fail to notice God’s presence in small things because we’re looking for big action. But God is as present in the simple as He is in the grand and great. Training our eyes to see little kindnesses as gifts from God helps us become more aware of the full spectrum of the ways in which He loves us. The Bible tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17). Every gift, whether it’s fireflies or fireworks.

3. Create stopping points in which to rest in God.
Presence can be temporal (I am present in church) or spiritual (my soul is present and attentive to God). You can guess which type God prefers! Our heavenly Father doesn’t find it at all difficult to be present to us, but we have to work at re-directing our hearts and minds to Him.

One way to start is to take pockets of time throughout the day to practice opening our hearts. A few months back I read that the average American spends two to three years of their life waiting, whether in line or on the phone. I decided that I was going to use that time to “Wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). Now whenever I find myself stalled, I think of it as a reminder to place myself in God’s loving presence, breathe deeply and recall his loving care. I usually start with a simple prayer like, “I place myself completely in Your hands, Lord!” or “Father, I rest in You.”

The writer of Hebrews urges us to “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

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