In her post a few weeks ago, Annika asked: “How can you draw yourself into more awareness of God’s presence?”
We have been discussing this very concept of “being aware of God’s presence” for several weeks. What needs to happen so that we can be aware? What gets in the way?
There is so much technology in our lives; phones, computers, car radios, TVs. Somehow we have to put those things aside so we can hear from God. We are at our best when we move these things aside and practice:
being still -- quiet before the Lord,
paying attention -- to the world around us,
and being aware -- of all that God puts before us.
The actual practices we engage in are called “contemplative practices” or “prayer”. The importance of practice happens in all aspects of our life. We practice in music, in sports, simply learning to read or do math. We need to practice listening to God! But so often life gets in the way. When we’re busy the practice of prayer gets pushed aside. Finding time, making time is the biggest obstacle we have. We have found that we have the best chance of practicing being in God’s presence when we first wake up. We work hard to not make this a repetitive obligation. We want to be mindful of God’s presence to reset our minds and hearts. We always end our practice with two questions we learned from Jamie Winship:
Lord, what do you want me to know?
What do you want me to do?
Practicing anything takes time if it’s really going to stick. Guided repetition rewires our brains. We’ve shared in our PEAKS articles about “Listening Prayer”, “Centering Prayer” and …. Richard Rohr shares twelve lifestyle practices and prompts in his book: Just This.
Be still and quiet before the Lord – practice patient Silence!
We find that having a special place to sit or walk outside, with no technology, helps us hear God. And we’ve found that doing this over and over allows us to listen from our hearts, especially before talking to each other.
Paying attention – Rohr, in his book, suggests saying the final words of an Eastern Orthodox poem:
Attend for a moment
to your breath as you draw it in: regard
the breath’s cool descent, a stream from mouth
to throat to the furnace of the heart.
Observe that queer, cool confluence of breath
and blood, and do your thinking there.
For those of us with children, it’s not just technology that distracts us … (parents, you know what I mean). But please keep in mind - Every time you look into the eyes of your child you see God looking back. Cherish these moments.
One of the ways we do this to focus on one single object, like a plant, a chair, a flower, until you stop having feeling about it. You don’t judge the object, reject it, like or dislike it. Cindy finds using objects in nature to help with this practice. Listen to the object and allow it to speak to you. She listens to the flowers in the garden and then speaks back to them with respect and curiosity. She finds joy with the flowers and within herself and a calmness in her body and mind. This has been a great practice in our new environment!
“How can you draw yourself into more awareness of God’s presence?”
- Cindy & Bill