“How are you experiencing God?” This is what I asked a group of pastors and ministry leaders today. I wonder if you’ve thought about your experience of God today. (It helps to have someone you trust who checks in with you on this!)
Experiencing God is not well understood by most people today. We tend to equate “experience” with emotion, but it’s much larger than that, including all aspects of our personality. To experience God is to be in an interactive relationship with him. (Our Soul Shepherding Bible Study on “A-B-I-D-E: The Experience of Knowing Christ Today” explains this.)
Learning to Practice God’s Presence
My question, “How are you experiencing God today?” is called an Examen of Consciousness. This ancient discipline is designed to steer us away from the common religious trappings of staying in our heads or trying to do what we should. Instead we focus on our actual experience of God — or lack of experience — and find that it’s an invitation to deeper intimacy with Jesus.
The Bible wouldn’t tell us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) if it weren’t possible to learn to do this more and more. To pray without ceasing does not mean that we talk to God all the time — it simply means that we keep re-directing our mind to God to praise him, ask for his help, listen, or just connect. We Practice God’s Presence. We all long to be in attunement with the grace of God, living not in our own strength, but in partnership with Jesus.
Some Questions to See How You’re Experiencing God
Here are some questions that will help you consider what it might look like to practice God’s presence:
- When you have car problems or a conflict with someone how long does it take for you to bring it to God in prayer?
- When you’re going into a meeting with someone, whether at work or with a friend, are you in a spirit of prayer, seeking for God to help you minister or be ministered to?
- When you are alone do you appreciate that actually you are not alone because Christ is with you?
- When you see an accident or hear an ambulance siren do you think to lift up those in trouble to God?
- When you lose your keys or some papers how long does it take you to pray for God to help you find them?
- When you’re not intensely occupied in a project does your mind spontaneously return to God as the needle of a compass turns to the North Pole?
Dallas Willard says, “Our answers to these questions make us sadly aware of how our mind is solidly trained in false ways.” (Hearing God, page 153) We can train ourselves to develop habits of connecting with and relying upon God in all kinds of situations. As we do this heaven comes flooding into our souls and spills out to those around us!