Some days, we just need the reassurance of God’s loving presence in our lives – a life giving encounter with His word, a friend, or circumstance that affirms us and the path He’s set before us.
The singular truth about prayer that can most revolutionize a person’s prayer life is this – the primary purpose of prayer is be in God’s presence. When we make that our aim, first and foremost simply to enter into and experience God’s presence, our understanding of prayer takes on transformative meaning. Prayer becomes a relationship more than a responsibility, a place more than a process, a delight more than a drudgery and an end more than a means.
The prayer life of Jesus and the way in which He related to His disciples illustrates this priority in prayer. In His own personal life Jesus frequently sought a solitary place in which He could commune with His Father in prayer. On occasion He brought some of His disciples with Him and the divine encounters He had with the Heavenly Father so impressed them that they finally asked Him to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1) His response is noteworthy. He began by encouraging them to seek out a relationship with the heavenly Father themselves instructing them to pray “Father, hallowed be Thy name. . . .”
When Jesus chose the twelve He established this same priority emphasizing that relationship precedes responsibility. We are told “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14 NIV) One cannot help but notice that His first concern and purpose was that they simply “be with him.” That is Jesus’ desire for each of us with regard to prayer – simply to spend time with Him.
One of the best verses in the Bible that embodies God’s ultimate purpose for and intended blessings from prayer is found in Psalm 16:11. It was penned by David who is singularly described as a “man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The promise embedded in this verse is that out of God’s presence flows not only joy but also the revelation of His will, i.e. “the path of life.” The wonder of this priority in prayer is that in God’s presence, His perspective and will are revealed, thus enabling us to pray by revelation for the things that are upon His heart. That in turn releases faith because “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV)
“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 that. 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 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.