With apologies to Ali Brown for the picture…
I have never been very good at practising. It really takes a lot of discipline on my part as I very easily get bored with doing the same thing over and over again be that with the guitar, or the golf clubs, or computer games. I’m the sort of person who gets frustrated if I can’t get something right first time. Yet I know deep down the value of practice – it makes playing an instrument, or a game, or exercising a skill, so much easier if you practice beforehand. Someone once said of a golfer how lucky he was with his shots, and the reply to that comment was “Yes, and the more he practices the luckier he gets.”
What about with our faith, though? I’m sure you have heard someone use the term “practising Christian” – for me that sums me up well – I need to keep practising because I keep getting things wrong; but for others it comes across as maybe someone who follows the rules, or the regulations and is a “religious” person at one extreme or simply someone who lives out their faith in their daily life at the other. One of those definitions can make us off-putting, the other can make us attractive and reveal Jesus to people around us as they see the reality of our relationship with Him in the day to day routines of life.
And then there’s this phrase “practising the presence of God” – it’s something the Celtic saints did, and it’s basically about living every moment aware that God is with us in it, and consciously sharing each moment with Him until it becomes second nature to us. To help them they had a daily pattern of prayer, Morning, Noon and Evening, and they had prayers and blessings for just about anything, from washing up to weddings and funerals and everything else in between. Modern day Celtic Christians even have a blessing for a new car or motorbike, even for the use of a computer – “I programme my computer with the love of God. God be with me now as I call words into being. may they make real my work of love. May they join the work of creation. Called from nothing, uttered over chaos, bringing order.”
It might seem a bit odd, that, but if we approached everything in life recognising that God is there and involves in it because in the words of Psalm 24v1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” I think we would approach a lot of things very differently to how we do at the moment, and we would find a lot more positives and things to thank God for as well. certainly if we used the prayer for computers we would be more careful about messages we send, and things we engage with! Add to that Colossians 3v23/4 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,a s working for the Lord, not for men…it is the Lord Christ you are serving” and you are well on your way to practicing the presence of God.
That leads me on to the type of prayers we pray. God has already promised us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebs 13v5) so there’s no need to ask Him to be with us; rather ask Him to help us become more aware that He is with us – and guess what, the more we practice this the more we recognise His presence in and around us and the more joyful and peaceful we become..
This is one type of practice I will never get tired of or give up on – the rewards are simply too great, out of this world in fact. May each of us who call ourselves Christian, practicing Christian, or follower of Jesus learn to practice the presence of God so that not only will our lives be enriched, but the lives of others too, and the Kingdom of God comes through us wherever we find ourselves and whatever is going on in our lives.
God bless, stay well