The Bible makes it clear that God is everywhere. “’Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24).
But there’s more than just that God is everywhere. Through Christ’s death and Resurrection believers are brought into the very presence of God “because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6, 13). We are in Christ and Christ is in us meaning He is always with every believer in a personal way. Our entire life is lived in the presence of God and permeated by Him. “For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28).
Let’s take this even a step further. Rather than merely giving mental assent to those truths or taking them for granted, God invites us to be fully aware of Him and live in His presence. As A.W. Tozer writes, we are to “recognize the real presence of the One whom all sound theology declares to be already there…The resultant experience is not visionary but real.”1 This is what is meant by practising the presence of God.
Again citing Tozer as he reflects on the omnipresence of God, practicing the presence of God means, “for us to learn to realize this in conscious experience."2 It means keeping in mind that God is with us as we go about our day and making a habit of being aware of and responding to God’s abiding presence. It is walking with God through our day continually conversing with Him from our heart and referring all we do to Him.
In some mysterious way God has ordered our minds such that we can be in prayer and worship at the same time as we are going through our daily routine or doing our daily work. We can layer practices into our normal everyday life to allow God’s presence to infuse every moment and detail.
Practising God’s presence goes beyond the typical “morning quiet time.” Too often after our quiet time, we then head out into the rest of our day, having compartmentalized our God-life, leaving our Bible and our relationship with Jesus on our desk or bedside table. We should take our life with God and our awareness of his presence with us everywhere, incorporating practices into our lives that help us keep that awareness right in front of us, throughout the day, every day.
The result of doing this is a richly purposeful, invigorated life that is fuelled by His power and joy, rather than a life in which we’re drained and strained as we sputter along on our own.
Here are some perspectives and practical guidelines to help us practise the presence of God.
We are totally dependent on God for everything all the time: health, wealth, and breath
Jesus “holds all things together” (Colossians 1:17 ISV). He said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Although He was applying that to fruitfulness it also applies to all of life. Let that permeate your mind and actions and ask for His help in everything you do as things happen.
Everything matters. Everything can be a reference point to God
There are no tasks too small or menial in which to involve God. Pick any ordinary task you do with regularity and each time you do it this week commit it to Him and seek to do it to His honour with gratitude.
There are no ordinary, little people
Every person you encounter is an eternal being made in the image of God. This infuses all our relationships with a sense of the eternal. Whenever you think of someone, or meet someone, or see someone, pray for them and commit them to God.
This life is preparation for the next
We are all going to die so let’s not put our hope in people or things but in God and His Word alone. Display something near you that reminds you of this, maybe an hourglass or candle or flower that will wither.
Tune up first thing each day. Initiate practicing the presence of God upon waking
Run a passage of Scripture through your mind and make it a prayer for the day ahead. Suggested passages: Psalm 27:1; 103:1; 143:8; or Philippians 4:6–7. Talk to God, inviting Him into your day and all your activities.
Think of every hour as a reminder to be in His presence
Each “now” is an opportunity to invite and welcome God back into what you are doing in the routines of your day.
If you catch yourself “forgetting” God and His presence, remember He is still there. Re-invite Him into your activities. Repeat as needed.
1. A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1961), p. 82.