Practicing the Presence of God
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess 5:16-18).
"He told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary" (Luke 18:1).
We are like God, but God is not like us.
Our ability to focus on others in our life is limited. If we give our time and attention to one person, we exclude all of the other people in our life at that time.
God is infinite in all perfections and is outside of time.
God can give undivided, personal attention to each one of His children without taking anything away from any of His other children.
God is with us every moment of every day of our lives--"24 x 7 x 365."
Attentiveness to others wearies us. Sooner or later we need to rest from our labors of love.
God is never wearied by His love for us. He has infinite resources at His disposal.
We are burdened by concupiscence, unconscious motives, and wounds from our past.
God is free from the effects of sin. He has no unconscious drives and no unhealthy patterns in His relationships. His love and His judgments are always free, gracious, magnanimous, compassionate, and reliable.
We sometimes find the attention of others--even others whom we love--somewhat oppressive. There are times when we want to be left alone, whether we are in joy or sorrow.
God's presence is never oppressive. God does not take hostages. He does not manipulate us to act against our own will nor to suppress our true self.
The Jesus Prayer
The Eastern Churches (Orthodox and Catholic) have preserved an ancient tradition of constant prayer. The goal is to pray the Jesus Prayer with each breath we take, no matter what else we are doing.
- Maxims and Sayings of St. Philip Neri, January 14.
- The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart.
- Pray always
- "Pray constantly ... always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." St. Paul adds, "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints." For "we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing." This tireless fervor can come only from love. Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering love. ...
- It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. Our time is in the hands of God: It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, ... while buying or selling, ... or even while cooking.
- Prayer to Jesus
- But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves." The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.
- This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy.
- The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience." This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.
- The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps. The stations from the Praetorium to Golgotha and the tomb trace the way of Jesus, who by his holy Cross has redeemed the world.
- "To practice the presence of God in the Brother Lawrence tradition we walk before God simply, in faith, with humility, and with love. We engage in a continual, silent, and affectionate conversation with Our Father. Out of love for Him, we strive to do nothing and think nothing which may displease God."
Consecrate your day
I learned the Morning Offering in high school and use it as my first prayer when I wake up. There are many variants of this prayer--pick one that works for you.
- The Morning Offering
- "O, my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all of my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all of the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: for the salvation of souls, for the reparation of sin, and for the reunion of all Christians; for Benedict XVI and for his intentions; for the Apostleship of Prayer and for the Apostolate of Holy Motherhood."
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of short prayers in the Catholic tradition that we can use to remind us of God's presence and action in our daily life. The only take a moment to say and can be said repeatedly (as with the Jesus Prayer). Feel free to make up your own short, heartfelt prayers, and use them as much as you find helpful.
My mother taught me to repeat the "Glory Be" while asking St. Anthony for help in finding things and while also asking the Holy Spirit for help during times of anxiety, especially while waiting for an exam to start.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
- 1 Thes 5:17; Eph 5:20.
- Eph 6:18.
- Evagrius Ponticus, Pract. 49:PG 40,1245C.
- Cf. Mt 28:20; Lk 8:24.
- St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2:PG 63,585.
- Cf. Ex 3:14; 33:19-23; Mt 1:21.
- Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.
- Cf. Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:13.
- Cf. Mt 6:7.
- Cf. Lk 8:15.