Practicing the Presence of God: Making It Harder Than It Is

I slammed my pencil down on my math notebook, where half-worked problems sprawled. “I can’t do this!!!!”

From the den, the computer chair creaked, and the soft thump of my mom’s step signaled her approach. I collapsed over my math textbook, notebook, and scratch paper. She needed to know that this was too hard, and it was hopeless, and I would never get it. I jutted out my lip.

My mom pulls out the chair next to me. “What’s going on, Barbara?”

“I can’t do it.” If I could collapse further, I would, but since I can’t, I squeeze my eyes shut.

“Let me see.” My mom tugs the books from out of underneath me, and I roll myself up to sitting position and watch as she goes over my work. The pencil in her hand traces my numbers, and then it stops. “Hmm, you’re making it harder than it is.”

You’re Making It Harder Than It Is

So much of my life, that sentence applies. I’m not sure if you have similar stories or memories where you complicated some simple piece of knowledge or learning until someone clued you into the over-complication occurring, but it’s a constant in my life.

Whether it’s aerial silks or transferring my contacts from my old phone to my new, I tend to over-complicate.

With aerial silks, I over-think a newly demonstrated move or an old move that I have still to complete.

With the phone, I’m still in the midst of over-complicating…hopefully, that will be fixed soon!

How I Make It Harder Than It Is With God

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that I often make relationship with God harder than it is. Honestly, when I approach time with God, I’m carrying expectations. I expect mind-blowing epiphanies. I expect that if I read my Bible in record time that I’ll have the insight of Andy Stanley and C.S. Lewis. I expect prayer times like what I hear about from the Ancients.

So when none of that happens…yup, because usually none of that happens…I’m disappointed. In myself. Well, and in God. Is yesterday’s dinner still stuck in my teeth? Why isn’t He talking to me?

The racket of voices in my head giving advice, making comparisons, and cutting me down to size drown out the “be still” part of sitting with in the presence of God.

And then, I give up, because it’s too hard.

Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Have you read it? If you haven’t, you should. Somehow, this monk from centuries ago condenses the struggle of being in relationship with God down to one simple thought: keep the reality of God in front of your mind in everything.

Maybe take a few steps back from the weight of “should be” (studying theology, reading great theologians, praying more, memorizing more, etc.) and focus on the presence of God in your life today. I’m not good at it. In fact, I’m awful at it, but I want to try.


To the God of Presence,

I struggle to even sit with you and catching sight of you during the crush of routine responsibility seems next to impossible. Please forgive me how I make relationship with you more difficult than it is.

Help me to rest my mind on your presence in my daily reality. Train my eyes to recognize you and to anchor myself in your presence.

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