The important thing, no matter what form of prayer we use, is to respond in faith to God’s presence. Sometimes I’m so aware of his presence and love it makes me weep with gratitude. Other days it is an act of faith to trust that God is with me, when I’ve become wrapped up in my own story, my own feelings, my perception of reality. Fr. Richard Rohr says, “Most people confuse their life situation with their actual life, which is an underlying flow beneath the everyday events.” I have to take a step back to see it, but it’s true that the situations I find myself in often get all my attention, while my real life is more like a river running deeply underneath. Whether I view the river as running smoothly or as navigating Class V rapids, my life with God encompasses them all.
In Psalm 139, David wrote poetically of a God who formed him and knows him intimately, inside and out, and of his ongoing presence with him wherever he goes.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 139:7-12
The psalmist is responding to a personal God, who knows each one of us intimately and is always there, even in our darkest days. David knows this because he has logged a lifetime of seeing and experiencing God’s love and power for himself. But it takes an act of faith to trust that he is here when we can’t see, can’t hear and often can’t feel him in our midst. This is a recurring theme in my spiritual journey, and from what I read, it seems to be universal. What can we do when we don’t feel God’s presence? It helps to remind myself of what’s true with words of faith like these, and also to remember ways he has been with me in the past. I need God’s help to see reality clearly because I forget, and because I see through a glass darkly. I can so easily lose awareness and become distracted and fearful by the number of waves around my boat. But as Paul writes in Hebrews, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
What if we let scripture impact how we see reality, instead of the other way around? Instead of reading a passage and thinking how does this apply to my life, ask how does my life apply to this truth?
Today’s prayer practice: Awareness of His presence
Be still. Quiet your soul. Listen in this moment, to the ever-constant inner chatter of your thoughts, then let them go. Ask God for an awareness of his presence with you. Look for him. Listen for his voice in the stillness. Meditate on the verses above. Hear them as a prayer of faith to the Lord. Reflect on how they are true for you. How would you like to respond? Expect his presence. If you’re journeying through a difficult season, remind yourself that he is with you in it, and that God can bring light to any darkness. Look for him to meet you on the way. Evidence may come when you least expect it.