Practicing Awareness of God's Presence
In 2006 I stumbled upon a practice that I continue today (April 2011).
It has inspirited my life and I present it here in the hope that it will do the same for you.
The “awareness of God’s presence” is not at all complicated. Here is an example of how deceptively simple it can be:
Turn your attention away from daily activities. Empty your mind of daily cares, take a deep breath and relax, give thanks that God so loves you that you are in God’s presence.
Sit quietly and allow the emptying of your mind and its replacement with the awareness of God’s presence.
This site exists to share a simple, practice: The Awareness of God’s Presence.
For any and all who believe — or are willing to entertain the possibility of The Divine Presence, God — please read on.
What is “Practicing Awareness of God’s Presence”?
We experience awareness every waking moment of the day.
When we wake in the morning we become aware of our surroundings and the thoughts we have. As we go through the day we’re aware of literally thousands, maybe millions of things:
- an image on television
- a barking dog
- a person’s voice
- an itch on your arm
- a desire to drink some water
These are all things about which we are aware. Our awareness flits from one thing to another all day long.
Awareness—at least the awareness I mean— is not a belief about something. It’s the direct experiencing of something whether by sight, sound, feel, taste, or thought.
So, what is the “awareness of God’s presence?”
It is the experiencing of God’s presence. It is the consciousness of God’s presence. It’s not the belief that God is present. It’s not hoping that God is present—although I do hope that you wish this for yourself and others— but it is the direct consciousness of God’s presence.
It’s not making God become present.
It’s becoming aware of The Holy Presence that is here, now.
Can this by done? Can one become aware of God’s presence?
First, before answering, know that my intention is not to violate anyone’s deeply held beliefs or faith. If, what I say here, violates your deeply held beliefs and is offensive to you, please know that what is said here is not intended to contradict any particular religious beliefs, but is simply intended to tell you something I have experienced and to encourage you to try it yourself.
So, can one become aware of God’s presence?
Yes, I personally believe that we can be aware of God’s presence. But, I hope you will not take this as simply a matter of personal belief, but that you take it as an opportunity and invitation to experiment. “Give it a try”.
And, if you find practicing the awareness of God’s presence a good thing, that you continue and share it with others.
What makes me think this is possible?
My short answer is this: I gave it a try. And, to my surprise, found it doable.
I must confess that I am a “believer”. I believe in one God. I believe that God is ever present to all. And, thus am far from unbiased. But, I also must tell you that I was surprised when it first happened. I really expected nothing special would happen.
How do you “Practice Awareness of God’s Presence”?
I can tell you what I do. I’ll be interested in hearing what you do.
Before telling you the steps I take, know that I do not have some kind of formula and have not spent much time analyzing what I do. I consider this practice a work in progress.
Steps that I do
Step 1: Make sure my awareness is not required by anything else. For example, I’m not driving a car, crossing a street, talking with someone else, — or, with myself, for that matter ;-). Nothing that requires my attention.
Step 2: I always do this in a quiet place where I’m not likely to be interrupted. Awareness and attention are fleeting, jumping from one thing to another and one thought to another. So, a quiet place with few distractions works best for me.
Step 3: Close my eyes. (Visual stimuli are too distracting for me and draw my attention away.)
Step 4: Turn my attention away from daily activities and turn my attention toward God’s presence. For example, empty my mind of daily stuff and say to myself “the presence of God” followed by “awareness of God’s presence”. Or, take a deep breath and relax. Give thanks that God so loves us* that each of us is in God’s presence.
* Some non-Christians might prefer the thought that God is so “compassionate,” that each of us is in God’s presence.
Step 5: Sit quietly and enjoy God’s presence. Here's what I experienced and continue to experience when I consciously turn my attention to God's presence.
I doubt that there’s a formula for practicing the awareness of God’s presence.
I urge you to make use of your own religious or belief tradition and see what works for you. Use your own creativity. It may be that your path to awareness of God’s presence will be unique and special to you. It may be that the awareness you have is unique to you.
Are there people who are not in God’s presence?
As a matter of fact, I have no idea.
As a matter of personal belief, I believe God is present to all. But, I think only God knows this and God hasn’t told me. In fact, God has not said a word to me that I’m aware of.
What led me to this practice?
I won’t bore you with my personal religious history. Suffice to say that I have thought of myself at various times as a Protestant Christian, an unbeliever, an agnostic, an atheist, a Buddhist, an indifferent, and, now, a Christian. I’m not trained nor well read in theology. I’ve read the Koran in English translation. I thought of myself at one time as a practicing Buddhist and know something about Hinayama Buddhism. But, know very little about most of the religions of the world.
One day in 2006 I came upon a little paper-back book titled The Practice of the Presence of God, which is about Brother Lawrence. Something caused me to pick it up and start reading.
It’s about the religious practices of a man born in Eastern France in 1611 who was a soldier and, then, lay monk in a monastery in Paris. The Abbe of his monastery recognized something special in the practices and person of Brother Lawrence that set him apart. So, the Abbe went to the extraordinary effort to write his memories of Brother Lawrence as well as to collect letters written by him. These memories, including his eulogy for Brother Lawrence in 1691, are collected in this little book.
Brother Lawrence spoke of “the practice of the presence of God.” Why do I add the word “awareness” to this?
I have very intentionally inserted “awareness” because it seems so easy to turn things around and imagine that “practicing the presence of God” is to somehow make God become present.
Understanding that I’m practicing the “awareness of the presence of God” puts responsibility in the right place.
That is, God is present. My responsibility is to be aware of God’s presence. I do not somehow conjure up God or somehow do magical things that cause God to be present. That is already done for me and, I believe, for all. It’s up to me to do something about this Presence. The “ball is in my court,” as, I believe, it’s in yours.
What makes me think I’m “aware of God’s presence” and not deluding myself?
Two things. The quality of the result and the sequence of events leading up to it.
Quality of the Result
I’ve tried several forms of meditation and prayer but none led to the experience I found and continue to find when turning my attention to an awareness of God’s presence.
I find it somewhat embarrassing to say, but my heart filled with a sweet joy that felt as though it might burst. It’s as though heavy weights are lifted and a sweet presence flows into my being.
To put this in a little more context: Let me add that I’m a person of this century given to rationale thought, scientific proof and skepticism. This does not make me immune from self delusion, but it should let you know that I’m not given to recurring bouts of “sweet joy” and “bursting” hearts.
Sequence of Events
The second reason I believe that I am aware of God’s Presence and not deluding myself, involves the sequence of events leading up to my attempting this practice.
Namely, it was only after reading “The Practice of the Presence of God” that I even entertained the notion of trying to be aware of the presence of God.
It just never occurred to me.
I had never actually made the conscious, specific effort to become aware of God’s Presence.
I had meditated. Prayed. Read religious works. But, never literally set out to become aware of God’s Presence. Never “given it a try.”
Actually, the key for me — as noted earlier — was inserting the concept of “awareness” into the thoughts and ideas that Brother Lawrence shares about practicing God’s Presence. When it became clear to me that the issue, or challenge, about practicing God’s Presence might be simply a matter of turning my consciousness, or awareness, to God’s Presence, I simply did that. I just turned my awareness to God’s Presence and IT HAPPENED!
How can one know if they’re successful at this?
I have no special wisdom to answer this question. First, try. Just give it a try. Then let your whole being answer the question.