day 9: practicing the presence (contemplative prayer)

Recently, my wife and I laughed over a commercial we kept seeing about Amazon TV. It teases, “You’ve been eye goggling that show for 58 episodes but there they are:  the final final credits. You’ve fallen into. . .the show hole! The struggle could not be more real. Why even have a TV? Then you see it Amazon’s vast library of best shows ever. So long show hole!” If you are like many today, you have experienced the “show hole.. Maybe you watched the entire series of Lost or Friends or Seinfeld or Gilmore Girls.

We don’t often think about it, but it takes discipline to watch an entire series of a television show. We get into the characters and start to know them. By the end of the series we know the weirdest details about them. Did you know there were 236 episodes of the show Friends, 180 of Seinfeld, 121 of Lost and 153 of Gilmore Girls? And if you watched all of those shows at one episode a night, it would take you two years before you hit the “show hole!”

Can you imagine being that dedicated to spending time with God? What if instead of 30 minutes a day, you were to continually bring God up in your mind and thoughts? Psalm 16.8-9 reads:

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely

(NASB, https://www.bible.com/bible/100/psa.16.8-9)

Can you imagine it? Can you imagine spending the sum of the rest of your life keeping the Lord “continually” before you? Dallas Willard writes, “This is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls. Our part in thus practicing the presence of God is to direct and redirect our minds constantly to Him.” (“Personal Soul Care”, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=106). Imagine the detail you will learn about God. Imagine how you will feel always connect to Him in prayer.

Romans 8:6 reads:

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Practicing God’s presence in our lives, Romans says, will result in life and peace. It takes discipline–like watching your favorite television show every night–but the results are much different. It would be life changing!

Dallas continues:

We first receive God into our minds by receiving Jesus. The way forward then lies in intentionally keeping the scenes and words of the New Testament Gospels before our minds, carefully reading and rereading them day by day. We revive them in word and imagination as we arise in the morning, move through the events of the day, and lie down at night. By this means we walk with Him moment by moment—the One who promised to be with us always.

(“Personal Soul Care”, http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=106)

Your Turn to Pray

Do one or more of the following:

  1. Set a 60 minute timer on your phone or watch. When it goes off draw your thoughts back to God and repeat.
  2. At breakfast, lunch and supper, read a psalm and find one aspect of God’s character to think about until the next meal.