As we begin, let us center ourselves in Christ Jesus. Allow yourself to rest in the present moment to know God’s presence with you. It is good to be still as we pray for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
The Practice of Being Totally Present to God
Last week we considered offering our pure, nonjudgmental, naked being to God’s very being. This, offering of our being to God’s being is impossible without the grace of God, for these two beings are quite different. God’s grace, however, moves beyond simply giving us the ability to offering our being to God’s being in faithful surrender. For, by God’s grace we are given the gift of union with God, whereas the two become one, yet remain differentiated, as both retain the fullness of their actual essence, without dilution, or change, in that essence. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is referred to as divinization. Our nature, by God’s grace, is thus able to be united with God. Furthermore, this is not purely a future event, although the fullness of union with God may not occur as we live today. However, we do live, breathe and have our being in Christ Jesus. We do have the mind of Christ right now, thus we can have access more than mere traces of an awareness of God’s presence right now. In fact, again by God’s grace, we can know the gift of being totally present to God here and now. Albeit, not yet in an ultimate the way, as we one day will. In other words, we can practice being totally present to God here and now to the extent of that our fully alive way of being 1 is capable, which is far more than most people are currently practicing the presence of God. For this to occur, we must practice ways of being undistracted, which can only begin as we practice nonattachment, or detachment, from all that draws our attention from God, who is with us, right now. This begins with 1) a conscious intentionality to know God with us. 2) A personal spirit, soul, mind and body (image of God) inventory that honestly reveals ways by which we are distracted in each of these aspects of the human essence. This is then followed by the incorporation of time proven practices that address that which distract us from being fully present to God (Father, Sin and Holy Spirit). This is accomplished as we cooperate with the grace of God by developing a good Christian “Rule of life.”
First, we must offer our whole hearted consent to God by way of “love in the spirit” (Colossians 1:8). The practice of Centering Prayer suggests we choose a prayer word that
indicates just such an intentionality toward God.2 Centering prayer is an excellent way to begin, as it designed to eliminate distractions by bringing our mind to rest in a single thought, symbolized by our sacred word. However, thoughts are not the only place we are distracted, although they are the most obvious and accessible way that experience distraction. We must also become undistracted to what God is doing in our spirit and our souls. The human spirit when it is immersed in, and given new life by, the Holy Spirit is an amazingly active inner place. However, spirit and soul activity can only be experienced as we enter, by God’s grace, into the silent space between our thoughts. The silence that surrounds every thought and action is where we can simply be with God. This silence is imperceptible to our usual way of consciousness, yet it is that from which our unified, with God, consciousness flows and from which activity, in accordance to God’s will, is understood and then later actively carried out in the world. This is time, or timelessness, in which we are very still, inwardly and outwardly, before God. In short, inner stillness flows out of this with God silence and solitude. Within this silent solitude and inner stillness, we rest in God’s presence. This brings healing to our soul, and soul expansion, which in turn brings about transformation through the renewal of our mind and even a faint awareness of our bodily transformation of the seed of the eternal imperishable body. All this can, in a mystical manner, be sensed hear and now, if we truly decide to rest in God’s grace, and allow it to happen. First, we must begin to cooperate with God’s grace by and through a Holy Spirit led Rule of Life that can bring us to the brink of silence, solitude and stillness that is necessary for us to become open, nonjudgmental and in the moment before God. In other words, contemplative.
We will know that God is working through our rule of life when we find ourselves actively reacting in the world in response to our practice of God’s presence, moment by moment. However, it is important not to directly link the good things we do as being directly caused by our practicing of God’s presence. God’s presence does not directly lead us to activity. Instead, activity flows out of a newly established continuous offering of our very being to God who simply is. This offering occurs most profoundly in the silence, solitude and stillness, which we have touched upon. It is the fruit of the Spirit that directly flow out of our silence, solitude and stillness with God and it is as these fruits become the foundation from which we live that activity in accordance to God’s will flow. In other words, for example, when we become overcome with Joy, Peace and Love, most especially Love, and our actions begin to reflect these ways of being, then we know that we have practiced the presence of God.
“Humanities highest perfection is union with God in consummate love, a destiny so high, so pure in itself, and so far beyond human thought that it cannot be known or imagined as it really is. Yet wherever we find its fruits, we may safely assume that it abounds.”
Anonymous, 14th century author of the Book of Privy Counseling,
William Johnston translation, page 157
Herein, we can take that which we spoke about last week, specific moments of offering our being to God, as having now become faithfully surrendered to God in such a manner that we find ourselves, quiet naturally and with much joy offering every moment to God. We then find this continuous offering to be at the heart of everything we do, whether active or contemplative, which continuously flows out of the depths of our silence, solitude, and stillness, in “Christ Jesus” thus “in God. This is the practice of being totally present to God.
1 On June 22nd, 2019, The Awakening Institute will be holding an all day Saturday Retreat (9:30am-3:30pm, with a lunch break from 12noon-1:00pm) featuring training and the practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina.
2 This fully alive way of being is the fully effectual and free image of God where, which is the Holy Spirit soaked, reborn, human spirit, healed and expanded soul, renewed mind and transformed body in all its glory.
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Next week, “Losing Self”
May God Bless You All, Gene Yotka
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