8 Ways to Be Present

January 4th, 2012 · by Tom Stuart · Life Balance, Overcoming

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

Be Present!  What does it mean?  There are different ways to be present.  Being physically present and accounted for is obviously important.  Just ask a child about that regarding their parents or ask a supervisor about that regarding their subordinate.  But everyone knows, especially children and bosses, that truly being present entails much more than that. 

Being present also means to be focused and engaged in the person and/or task at hand.  Being present requires a focused engagement of every aspect of our being including the physical, mental, emotional and even the spiritual.

We live in a world that militates against our being present in the moments of our life.  We are bombarded 24/7 with distractions and demands for our presence, primarily through media, social networking websites, and e communication.  We delude ourselves into thinking that with the sophistication of technology we can now be omni-present because we can multitask. 

But the stark reality is that a person cannot multitask and be fully present at the same time!  It is a conceit to think that way.  And it may actually border on idolatry because we make ourselves to be like God, who alone is omnipresent.  How ridiculous it is when you stop to think about it.

So having established that, here is my take on what it means to be present from a Biblical perspective.  The verse “Be still and know that I am God” says it like no other.  The Hebrew word for “be still” literally means to “cease” or “cease striving”.  It means to push the pause button on and forsake everything else in our lives to focus on Him. 

To be present means to first and foremost ask God to be present in our lives and to focus on His presence.  To fully be present in any situation or relationship we must begin there.

With that as a foundation for our understanding of what it means to “be present” I want to share with you what I am calling the 8 Be Present Attitudes.  I have discovered these from a study of the Scriptures and they provide eight simple ways to improve our ability to truly be present in any and every circumstance.  In fact in six out of eight, the scripture used as an illustration literally tells us that these respective attitudes are to be done at all times and in every circumstance.

  1. Be Focused – This is paramount for presence and there are several key passages in the Bible that exhort us of the necessity of focusing our thoughts and minds. We are told to “fix our thoughts on Jesus” and to “set our minds on things above.” (Hebrews 3;1 & Colossians 3:2)  We are also exhorted to “be steadfast of mind.”  (Isaiah 26:3)
  2. Be Watchful – Not enough can be said about how important it is to be alert and discerning.  Again and again the Bible tells us be fully awake and vigilant, seeking to see the things God is seeing and wants to reveal to us.  Jesus told us to “Keep watch” and Paul said “Be watchful!” (Matthew 24:42, 1 Corinthians 16:13 & Ephesians 6;18)
  3. Be Content – Being content with the moment you are in and not wishing for some other moment either past or future will help you abide in the present.  This is something we can learn by choice and practice.   Paul tells us “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11 NIV)
  4. Be Thankful – Being content and thankfulness go hand in hand.  And so it is possible to “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)
  5. Be Prayerful – When the moment we are in is not a pleasant one or is trying our patience we always have the option of turning to God in prayer.  Prayer enables us to be present when other things around war against that.  Prayer also helps us be more discerning to find God in the moment. We should therefore be “instant in prayer” and “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” (Colossians 4:2 7 Ephesians 5:18 NLT)
  6. Be Strong – It takes perseverance and strength to endure difficult moments we sometimes find ourselves experiencing.  God is always there to help you be present and not retreat by longing for the past or wishing for a preferred future.  Many times in the Bible we hear these words “Be strong and courageous!”  (Joshua 1:9, Psalm 31:24 & 1 Corinthians 16:13)
  7. Be Loving – Being present in the moment is greatly helped when we focus on and think about others before ourselves.  It frees us from self-consciousness and self-pity.  “Do everything with love” the Bible tells us. (1 Corinthians 16:14 NLT)  Trying circumstances are always transformed with love.  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)
  8. Believe – “Trust in the Lord at all times” the psalmist tells us. (Psalm 63:8)  Faith is a non negotiable when it comes to being fully present.  Without it is impossible to please God or live victoriously in the moment we are in.  (Hebrews 11:6 & Romans 1;17)

What have you learned about challenges and/or solutions to being fully present?  Comments are always appreciated!!!

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21 Responses to “8 Ways to Be Present”

  1. Tom,
    What a great article! Next week I am teaching a parenting class and one of my topics is being present. I came across your blog and wanted to get your permission to print this article for the mom’s. I will include all of your blog info and picture as is. I will be subscribing! Thank you!

  2. Thank you for your encouraging feedback. Feel free to use the article as requested. Tom

  3. Wonderful work Tom. Going to have to pray on your suggest “be present attitudes” as it applies to personal development. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for your encouraging comment. Merry Christmas!

  5. Tom,

    Any more on this subject?

    I have struggled with this concept for sometime. Your short article has helped me to unpack my understanding just a little bit more. Thank you!

    I think my “lack of presence” sometimes can be accredited to my fear of failure, or falling short. God called out to Adam in the Garden… “Where are you…” like Adam, I can try to hide from God and others by not engaging, or staying quiet… I’m afraid of what others might think of my “bad ideas” or “lack of understanding”

    My wife can often times look at me and say “honey, where are you” when I’m off in outer space, day dreaming, or getting lost in the Facebook World. I am right now reminded of a video lesson by Rob Bell, called “Everything is Spiritual” the idea of string theory is discussed, where mentally we can be two different places at once. This is a big struggle for me. Even as I right this my mind is racing ahead, lagging behind, and in a thousand different places all at once!

    I think the attitude that challenged me the most from your list was #3. Be Content.
    I will pray fervently now for greater contentment in my present situations… current focus, conversation, job at hand, as a teacher my encounters with a student of parent, my times with friends, time with family, and mostly my Time with God.

  6. I found your article as I was searching for Bible verses that addressed being present, for a Stress Management talk. This article would be a great take away, with your permission may I reprint for the teachers receiving this talk? I will also include your blog and picture.
    Thank you for considering
    Leslie Wester

  7. So sorry for my delayed reply, I have been out of town away from computer. Yes, feel free to use the article as your propose. Thanks.

  8. Thank you so much!

  9. Hi Tom,

    Just wanted to drop a not to let you know that your post is still having an impact.

    At the beginning of each year, our pastor encourages us to select a word. A word that will provide a focus for the next twelve months.

    I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for work, and the word “present” came to mind. I used to take my time at home for granted, but now, I cherish it, and I want to make the most of each moment with my family. But I knew that choosing this word would mean more than just. Your post has helped to see that being present is much more than simply valuing moments.

    Thank you

  10. Your comment and encouragement is much appreciated. Good to hear this post is still ministering! Blessings, Tom

  11. Richard McFarlin June 10, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Very similar to one of the other comments shared, this article has allowed me to see my lack of presence in a different light. Thank you for this, and I look forward to more sharing about being present in the moment. Again, thank you.

  12. Thank you for sharing on what it means to “Be present’ spiritually and physically. I will make this one of my prayer point. I am from Jamaica. God bless you.

  13. Thank you for your comment.

  14. Thank you for this article. I send a text to my grandchildren each school day. I did a search for verses about living in the present and your article jumped out at me. With your permission I would like to use your ‘eight’ for eight days of texts to encourage my grands as they begin this school year. I am praying that it helps them as much as it has already helped me. God bless you. G’ma

  15. I am pleased the article has been helpful. You have my blessing to use it any way you choose.
    Blessi

  16. Even as we get ready to bring 2018 to a close, your article is still resonating. I came across your article as I was researching for a talk “Present in the Moment”. With your permission, I would like to use your article as a reference in my talk. God’s choicest blessings to you.
    Audrey

  17. Yes feel free to use the article! All I usually ask is for reference to be made the source which you have indicated you will do. Blessings in the New Year.

  18. Hi Tom,

    I have come across this blog post during my personal research for the start of 2019 about being present. Love the way you have unpacked the concept. I am finding these thoughts are resonating with my personal thoughts and prayers for my own journey in 2019!

  19. Thanks for your encouraging comment. Blessings in 2019!

  20. ogochukwu alaku March 15, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I was doing research on mindfulness as a Christian and I came across your work. it very insightful and most of all, empowering. I realized that mindfulness is not a Christian practice but being present is. Subscribing to your blog

    Thankyou for sharing your wisdom.

  21. Thanks for taking the time to post your heartening comment! Blessings – Tom

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