Tag Archives: listening

Finding Joy in God’s Presence

I can’t believe that it’s already February. Even though it feels like the year is racing along, I was reminded in my reading this week that not every moment needs to feel that way.

In the morning, long before sunrise, Jesus went to a place where he could be alone to pray.
Mark 1:35 (GW)

This passage takes place not too long after the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. His popularity was surging and pressure began to increase for him to heal and deliver those who were brought before him. He knew that the only time he could spend refreshing his spirit was early in the morning. He chose to pause the rush of the day, even before it began, and enjoy spending time in God’s presence.

Not many of us experience the pressures that Jesus did, but being human we do go through stressful times just like he did. We can take a page out of Jesus’ playbook and find time to spend with the Lord. I’m not here to make prescriptions, but if we understand the “why,” the “how” will become apparent. I was encouraged by Leonard’s story during our Sacred Reading this last Sunday about how he was feeling disconnected from the Lord and so he decided to take a prayer walk. Since he made time to present himself before God, he was later able to hear a message of love and grace from the Lord to him.

We all need regular encounters with the Lord. I pray that as we open our hearts to experience God’s presence, the Holy Spirit will show us what it is we need to do to connect with the Lord in a way that speaks love, imparts grace, and strengthens us to continue in our walk of faith with Jesus.

If you set spiritual New Year’s resolutions this year, I hope you’ve been able to keep them up. If not, or if you would like to infuse your spiritual life with a challenge, Lent begins on February 17. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter and is typically a season of prayer, fasting, and devotion in preparation for the celebration of God resurrecting Jesus from the dead. It might even be a season of discipline by which new spiritual practices can become a regular expression of faith.

Let’s put a pause on the rush of the day and take time to enjoy God’s presence.

Grace and peace,


If we are made in God’s image, and we are relational beings, then God must be a relational being as well. God is continually communicating with us, if we only have generous ears to what is being spoken.two chairs

Last week we looked at the following passage:

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are generous*, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are stingy*, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luke 11:34)

I feel that the same principle applies to listening as well as seeing. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7, NIV)

I was at a prayer retreat recently where we meditated on Matthew 6:6-8.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

As we sat quietly with this passage of scripture I was taken aback by my emotional reaction to it. I felt agitated, even angry. There was a visceral rising deep from within my soul. I felt that Jesus’ words were confining my prayer life, almost like my prayers would not count if I didn’t find a quiet and private place to offer my prayers. But, as we shared our thoughts concerning this passage I discovered that most people saw that “go into your room” was quite a flexible phrase and could entail everything from a traditional “quiet time” to taking a moment to be with God during a coffee break or at a stop light.

I initially felt guilty for having such a reaction to the scriptures, but then I remembered the verse in the letter to the Hebrews:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

I could have stayed with my angry feelings, but then I realized that God was using the scriptures to reveal something that needed to be addressed in my heart. That is, even though God does communicate with us all the time, God also wants us to experience special times when God relates to us as a parent. These special times may be brief or extended, but they are more than a passing acknowledgement. They are moments when we know that our hearts have conversed with God. I came to see that God received my angry thoughts as an invitation to a conversation. God listened to me, then I listened to God. We had a conversation. We were both understood. Our relationship took a step forward that day. I learned that a little listening goes a long way.

Grace and peace,

* The Greek for healthy here implies generous. The Greek for unhealthy here implies stingy. (Luke 11:34 NIV Notes)