The culture of presence

« No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. » (Psalm 101:7, NIV)

In 17th century Paris there lived a Carmelite monk known as Brother Laurence. His principal responsibilities were in the monastery kitchen. In carrying out his duties, he learned to dwell in the presence of God. He would for example delight in communion with the Lord while peeling potatoes. He would be captivated by the beauty of the Lord while washing the dishes. Others were intrigued. More than 400 years later some Christians found his letters to his fellow monks on his subject, and published them in a book entitled « Practising the Presence of God. » Knowing that the presence of God is with us is not enough. There are two things in the heart of God that challenge us: a) maintaining a continual awareness of His presence wherever we serve; and b) understanding that for God, His house and His presence are synonymous (as seen in the verse above).

King David understood these truths, and his writings inspire us to pursue the same depth of knowledge and experience : « One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. » (Psalm 27:4) There are different steps to reaching God’s ultimate goal for our lives. We all start by being seekers of God’s presence, then dwellers in God’s presence, then carriers of God’s présence, and finally transmitters of God’s presence. The key to going from one phase to the next is remaining connected to the Holy Spirit.

Fasting is a time of submitting your soul to the control of the Holy Spirit. It allows us to become more sensitive to His actions in and through our lives. The Holy Spirit inside you will make you mindful of God’s nature, thoughts, desires, aspirations, and directives. If you become sensitive to Him when you are alone in your home, you will recognise Him more easily in your family, in your small group, in a church service and ultimately in the world around you. If He feels distant to us, it is only because we have grieved Him or ignored Him for too long. In the same way that you interrupt your phone conversation when someone knocks at your door, you can learn to « interrupt » those thoughts and voices that try to distract you and open the door of your heart once again to the presence of the Lord.

ACTION POINT: Start by identifying which level you are currently at (seeker, dweller, carrier, or transmitter) and determine to go to the next level. Choose to leave your comfort zone and your self-sufficiency to go deeper and higher.

PRAYER TARGET: Present your soul to the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you what has « interrupted » your ongoing communion with Him. Renounce those things, and ask for His strength and grace to dwell in His presence.

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