There are lots of places online to find out all about mindfulness and its benefits. This is a very typical example I found on the website mindful.org.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.”
I couldn’t help but notice none of the websites I visited, none of the definitions I found, mentioned the practice of the presence of God. They all discuss being “fully present” and that we get better at this when we practice it daily, which makes sense. But I wish we as a culture had not wandered so far from recalling the presence of God.
For those of us who are believers in the Triune God, we know that God’s presence is within us, as well as all around us and that some aspect of the glory of God is in all created things because God made them and sustains them. All of that knowledge gives us contentment, gives us peace, fills us with a love for our brothers and sisters who are, and always have been, loved into being by that God who is Love. Now there’s Something to be mindful of.
There is actually a lovely, slim volume that is entitled The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence that was written in the 17th Century. It’s a favorite of mine and I highly recommend it. In its pages you will find much wisdom and ways to learn to transform your mind to a better way.
Here is one excerpt from my copy of Brother Lawrence’s book, from the Fourth Conversation (Chapter 4). “All we have to do is to recognize God as being intimately present within us. Then we may speak directly to Him every time we need to ask for help, to know His will in moments of uncertainty, and to do whatever He wants us to do in a way that pleases Him. We should offer our work to Him before we begin and thank Him afterward for the privilege of having done it for His sake. This continuous conversation would also include praising and loving God incessantly for His infinite goodness and perfection.” The good Brother goes on to say that God never fails to give us His grace. Lawrence could personally testify to this from his own experience.
So then, fundamentally, it’s about grace. With that gift, the practice of the presence of God is easier than practicing mindfulness, but it’s much more beneficial as you grow in the knowledge of God and the love He has for you and for all created beings. Practicing the presence of God helps you to realize that you are connected to everyone and that they are all truly marvelous, precious people, just as you are. Practicing the presence of God leads to happiness, and peace that cannot be disturbed when things go wrong around you.
The joy of the Lord is your strength, the peace that passes all understanding is yours, the love of God that dwells within you spills over on to those around you. And it must be practiced, make no mistake. Or you can get anxious, sad, scared. But those things are not of God. So you take a deep breath of the Holy Spirit into your spirit to regain your equilibrium. But, as I heard in a song one time, don’t forget to breathe the Holy Spirit out again! Breathe out and share God’s awesome presence, this amazing gift, with those around you.
Share it, rejoice in it, bring others in to experience it when they learn about God and the love and mercy He has for us all. And that practice of the presence of God makes you stronger. In your spirit and in your body, you will grow strong. The deeper your relationship with God, the more you shine like a beacon that others yearn to be near. What’s so attractive? It’s not you; it’s God within you.
On the day before Brother Lawrence left this earth bound for glory, he said the following in answer to a question about how he spent his time here: “Blessing God, praising God, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart. That is our whole purpose, brothers, to adore God and to love Him, without worrying about the rest.”
What a way to die; what a way to live! I have said on more than one occasion that I don’t know where my thoughts end and my prayers begin, that I sort of feel that I’m always talking to God. But I really mean that I am aware He is always there. He knows my thoughts. And sometimes, that’s a hard thing to contemplate, when I’m not living up to God’s will for me. I get distracted, confused, busy, overwhelmed with life. But at other times, it’s a grace filled gift for which I am eternally grateful. I don’t have the amazing skill regarding the presence of God that Brother Lawrence had, but I am working on it! I am still practicing!
I know that really, I just need to stop resisting. I am the obstacle that keeps God’s grace from completely taking over my life. And I say I want that, but my actions and thoughts belie that stated desire. So, as with that trite, but in this case true relationship cliche, “It’s not You, it’s me!” So, just as in the secular ‘mindfulness’ example, a person can miss out on the benefits by holding back, holding on, holding out. Where God is concerned, just as Brother Lawrence states above, we’ve got to give it all to Him. Our lives must be offered up and in losing ourselves, we find our true selves which have been made only to love and worship God.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a YouTube song in one of my posts. Here’s one about offering up ourselves to God. When we are willing to do this, totally and without reservation, we can live the practice of the presence of God, we will be ever mindful of His indwelling and of His never ending love for us.
Also, see Romans 12:1-2 for a grand summation of giving ourselves to God, and so achieving the practice of the presence of God continuously. The entire Chapter is really excellent!