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Practicing the Presence of God

Sunday, November 05, 2017    

 

“The determiner of the differential of spiritual presence exists in your own hearts and minds and consists in the manner of your own choosing, in the decisions of your minds, and in the determination of your own wills.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 13:4.5)

What is the presence of God? What does it feel like? Is it a plateau of tranquility? That’s what the hippie yogis of the 1970’s looked for, bringing peace and love to the planet through meditation. But if we matured in our spiritual search, we began seeking a partnership with God. Maybe together we could move these stuck wheels out of the mud.

I have often had only passing moments of contact, call them theophanies—God’s manifestations. Or I made ecstatic proclamations of prayers of gratitude that lit up the sky like a Roman candle, then quickly came back to earth, to my normal materialistic concerns, daily routines, and worries.

I’ve realized I didn’t rejoice often enough in recognizing, “the ever-present possibility of immediate communion with the bestowal spirit of the Father.” (The UB, 5:1.3)

Lately, feeling I could use some help in taking advantage of these “ever-present” possibilities, I picked up and re-read, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” (PoPG) by Brother Lawrence, a book I was given back in the 1970’s. A French soldier who took vows as a Carmelite monk after being wounded in the Thirty Years War (1640), he taught, “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.” Very much like the Master in the UB, where we learn, “Jesus was in constant communion with this exalted Adjuster.” (136:2.5)

“There is no mode of life in the world more pleasing and full of delight than continual conversation with God … let us do it, motivated by love and because God wishes it.” (PoPG, 60)

This unbroken communication is quite a different mode from the momentary epiphanies or spontaneous outbursts of prayer that I had more commonly experienced. Perhaps many spiritual seekers, including UB readers like me, don’t fully grasp how ever-present and constant a friend we could have in God.

“When the mind is untrained from the beginning, it has acquired bad habits of wandering and dissipation which are difficult to overcome … if [your mind] sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him … do not let it upset you … the will must bring it back calmly …” (PoPG, 76)

A true knowledge of the nature of God can be had by allowing oneself to personally experience his presence, whether in meditation, prayer, on a long hike in the woods, or “frequent journeys to the hilltop,” as Jesus did. I encourage people who are searching for a real experience of the divine presence to simply begin at whatever point you can begin having a conversation. I don’t usually advise the inexperienced to look for it in a church because there’s usually a prepackaged version of God being sold to the parishioners. Although many from traditional faiths and religions have written beautifully about their experiences of the nature of God, inspired works which I too have consulted and benefited from, personal experience is the only reliable way.

“It is not necessary to be always in church to be with God, we can make a private chapel of our heart where we can retire from time to time to commune with Him, peacefully, humbly, lovingly; everyone is capable of these intimate conversations with God, some more, others less; He knows what we can do. Let us begin—perhaps He is only waiting for a single generous resolution from us.” (The Practice of the Presence of God, 65)

Rodan the philosopher spoke of the practical applications of a daily relationship with God the Father. He observed how Jesus showed that frequent communion was the greatest of all methods of problem solving, “In this habit of Jesus' going off so frequently by himself to commune with the Father in heaven is to be found the technique, not only of gathering strength and wisdom for the ordinary conflicts of living, but also of appropriating the energy for the solution of the higher problems of a moral and spiritual nature.” (160:1.10)

“We will find in Him all the virtues we ourselves lack.” (PoPG, 103)

Sometime after years of building a closer relationship with Spirit, we will likely discern results in our lives, the fruits of spiritual living. Then we can enjoy speculating and wondering what differences it made to center our wandering will on daily seeking the presence and friendship of God.

 


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