Presence is a powerful thing…
Every morning I wake up and my husband is gone to work already. At 6:30 I get the kids breakfast on my own and begin the day, usually with a lot of grandiose plans for the day. As the hours go by, I begin to lower my standards to survival and being excited if I manage to get a shower. By 3 pm, I am spent. My quota of patience and all other necessary virtues for mothering 5 children under the age of 7 has been exceeded by about 12,000% and I am literally living for the moment the door opens and all the kids scream, “DADDY’S HOME!!!”
The minute he enters the house everything changes.
No matter how tough the day has been, I can breathe a sigh of relief and rest for a moment knowing that I am no longer alone.
That is the kind of power PRESENCE can have.
You know how the mood in a room can change based on who is present (or not). It is painful to you when someone you love is NOT present. It is easy to appreciate the Presence of God in your life (or at least I assume you do. If not, read: 10 Reasons to seek a More Authentic Relationship with God, or Experiencing Spiritual Dryness)
very few of us recognize the value of our own presence.
Did you know that God longs for our presence with Him even more than we long for His presence with us!?!?
This Advent, let’s give Him the gift He most longs for!
What is presence?
Presence is critical to intimacy, critical to love, critical to relationship. Despite how obvious this seems, the value of presence is often overlooked because it seems so simple, so banal, so pointless, and so almost impossible all at the same time. It is something we often avoid because we don’t want it to be important. It can seem boring, or almost even the opposite extreme, like too much work.
Presence Changes Us
You know how everything begins to take on the characteristics of it’s environment after a while? The same way fruit contains the nutrients of the soil in which it is planted, so we take on the characteristics of those whom we spend the most time with.
Presence transforms us. Let that sink in.
From being in the presence of God at Mount Sinai, Moses literally glowed and had to cover his face (Exodus 34:29-35).
Do you want to be a better person? Have a weakness you are battling? Feel far away? Lonely? the need to grow spiritually?
What is stopping you from just sitting with Jesus?
There are 2 types of Presence
#1 – Physical Presence
Physical Presence is about simply showing up. This is walking through the door and being in the room. In human relationships, this can also mean touch.
It is a bodily thing.
But how do we do this in a relationship with God?
In Physical Presence we put our body at the Service of the Master.
We do this in two ways:
1- Focus on Prayer Posture
We can’t escape the fact that we are physical beings and body language comprises 90% of our communication. Thus, our postures in prayer and the places we choose to pray are actually quite impactful to our prayer life. Yes, you can and should pray anywhere, in any circumstance and at all times, but at least once a day, we should also be praying intentionally, with a focus solely on being with Him (even if it is a short time).
2 – Recognize that our body is part of our calling
it is part of what we need to accomplish what we are meant to do.
This means putting your body and soul at the service of God every day. It is being willing, even eager, to follow His will and His plan for your life even if it means accepting temporary discomfort or persecution. It could be big things like joyfully accepting pregnancy, risking your life in protective service, moving homes, or changing jobs, but, more often, it is just little daily things: ie. smiling at someone, holding a door, doing a handstand by a vending machine (true story), or taking an alternate route (like the wise men returning home – Matthew 2:12).
Fasting is also a really good example of offering of our bodies to God.
Each of us is called to offer ourselves in our own unique way. We must go if we are called to go, work if we are called to work, and stay, rest or be silent if, instead, that’s what we are asked.
Are you ready offer your body to Him?
#2 – Mental presence
When I was young, my dad always used to say “Get your head in the game!” My siblings and I resented this a bit when we were young because it really did require mental effort to focus on something we didn’t necessarily enjoy, but now I am able to appreciate the sentiment behind those words on a much deeper level.
Mental presence is being mentally and emotionally “on the same page” as someone else.
It has to do with making an effort to be attune to what is going on around us, and showing it. It has to do with being engaged in conversations or activities, responding with nods, smiles, frowns, yes’s, no’s, or even questions or examples for clarification.
Mental presence doesn’t always have to be about talking, however.
Sometimes you just need to be quietly thinking about the other person, caring about their feelings or their needs. Being physically present with them is not a factor here.
My husband and I had a long distance relationship before we were married. Sometimes it was so hard to hang up the phone that one of us would accidentally fall asleep while we were still connected. It was a beautiful thing to wake up still on the phone. Simply not hanging up or checking out, just connected, knowing that you are in the forefront of each others minds is what mental presence is all about.
Mental presence has the ability to overcome physical distance.
This is why it is so important with God.
The Opposite of Mental Presence
This might be intentional ignoring, distraction (ex. staring instead at a television or cell phone), or simply “spacing out”. Have you ever said, or heard someone say, “I might as well be talking to the wall!” A wall has no presence, no soul to share. A wall cannot respond or engage in any kind of interaction, even though it is physically present, hence the frustration…
Both mental and physical presence are crucial to healthy relationship building. you can’t have just one or the other.
Thus, ideal presence is when we are both physically together and mentally engaged in the same event or conversation in the same moment.
Practical tips to becoming more “Present”
The first key step to learning how to be present is to cultivate and value a spirit of interior and exterior silence.
Go to a quiet place. Ask Him to help you experience His Presence, to know that He is there. Ask Him to come into your heart. Or, tell Him how afraid you are of this idea. Tell Him everything, or don’t talk at all. Just sit with Him. Be with Him. Let Him love you and let Him show you that you can trust Him.
2 – Patience
Sometimes we just have to wait. But not just wait, wait in the presence of God – wait FOR the presence of God. The Apostles had to sit in the Upper Room and wait long enough to receive the Holy Spirit, and, only then, were they transformed. They had to trust that they were waiting on something real.
Do you know that you are waiting for something real?
3 – Making time
As in any relationship, you have to make time to BE with someone. The amount of time isn’t as important as the fact that you make it a priority.
Every day for every person may be different, the key is that we come to recognize that our time for silence, prayer and attentive listening to God is as important, or more, than our personal hygiene routine. As such, it should receive at least the same time, attention, and prioritization as you give to showering, brushing your teeth and fixing your hair/clothes/makeup. It is as important as fresh air and physical activity.
In the same way that it can take time to “find the muscles” when working out, it is still worth getting in shape.
3 – Writing
I am a big talker, so it is often difficult for me to just sit with Christ, just waiting, and listening, and BEING. I have to take a journal very often so that I can “tell him” about all the things pressing on my mind. Once I get them all out and on paper, I can let them go. Often God will speak to me about the answer to one of the problems that was stressing me out, or I can just rest with Him once I have laid out everything that was bothering me. Either way, a journal or other writing outlet often helps me to pray and to just simply be in the presence of God by eliminating my other distractions. Maybe finding a practice similar to that can help you as well (Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas.)
4 – Other resources:
- Listen to Johnny Diaz’s Breathe on repeat if necessary.
- Listen to Presentation Ministries’ reflection: Silence and Peace in the Storm
- Check out my Pinterest Boards – especially the one on Finding Peace
- Check out other quotes or bible verses on Silence and Presence online. Find your favorites and post them where you will see them often to remind you always to take a step back
What is your favorite way to be present with God? Share below!!!