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Struggling with idea of practicing the presence of God: What to do?

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Practicing Presence, Prayer

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Presence of God: Struggling with the Idea of Practicing it:  What should be done?

Dear Father John, I have had a pretty regular prayer life for a few years, and have been going to confession regularly as well, and receiving Communion frequently. In my spiritual reading, though, I keep coming across the idea of “practicing the presence of God.” This means staying aware of Jesus throughout the day’s activities, right? Well, I have been trying to do this, but can’t seem to make any progress. The end of the day comes around, and then I remember that I should have been aware of his presence.  Is this something I should be worried about?

A beautiful question. Beautiful for two reasons:  1) If “practicing the presence of God” keeps coming up in your personal reading and reflection, you can be sure it’s because the Holy Spirit wants you to keep this on your spiritual agenda. This is how he coaches us – he puts something on our minds or hearts, and he keeps insisting on it. And if God is drawing you towards this rather advanced spiritual discipline, it means that he is already helping you grow in it. This is good stuff, altogether; 2) “Practicing the presence of God” will draw you closer to Christ than you ever dreamed possible, and that’s what it’s all about. Now onto the answer.

No, you should not be worried about your difficulty or confusion in this area, you should be excited about it: God is teaching you something new! Worry doesn’t come from God (if you mean by worrying a preoccupation that causes turbulence, doubt, and frustration in your soul). It comes from our pride, our tendency to think that we can make ourselves perfect and save the world by our own efforts. Remember, our Lord reminded us: “Do not fret about tomorrow, let tomorrow fret over its own cares. For today, today’s troubles are enough” (Matthew 6:34).

On the other hand, your instinct is right: this is a point of spiritual work that you should pay attention to at this point in your journey; this is why God has put it on your agenda. And here are some considerations that may help you do that.

What does it mean? “Practicing the presence of God” means not only staying aware of Jesus throughout the day, as you mention. That’s part of it, but not all of it. Practicing God’s presence means living every activity of the day with Jesus, by his side, sharing every experience with him. Remember in your school days, how it was always more enjoyable to do your homework together with a good friend instead of all by yourself? You didn’t have to be doing the exact same assignments, and you didn’t even have to be helping each other, but the mere fact that you together, that you were sitting in the same room, maybe at the same table, that you were in each other’s presence and could throw a couple words or looks back and forth every once awhile – that was enough to change the character of doing homework. Think of another example. How often do you go to a movie all by yourself? Not very often, most likely, unless you are a professional movie critic or some sort. You go to a movie with a good friend. And even though you don’t spend those two hours talking with your friend, sharing the experience with that other person makes the experience more valuable, fruitful, and enjoyable. This sharing of experiences – the experience of every activity of every day – with Christ, allowing him to share the experience of your life, that is the real heart of “practicing the presence of God.”

What does it yield? As we grow in this spiritual discipline, it has a major effect on our lives. We were created to “live in communion with God, in whom we find happiness” (Catechism #45). But in this fallen world, and due to our fallen nature, we tend towards a false sense of self-sufficiency. This stifles our growth as human beings. Instead of growing in wisdom, wonder, courage and all the virtues, when we live as if we were sufficient unto ourselves, we end up taking that path that eventually turns us into crotchety old men (or women), self-absorbed and self-absorbing, like black holes.  Practicing the presence of God helps us maintain and deepen our communion with God even in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life in a fallen world with a fallen human nature. This is the path to holiness, God’s term for lasting happiness.

How to do it? Since everyone’s friendship with God is unique, no generic formula will suffice for developing this spiritual discipline. Nevertheless, some common principles apply to all of us.

  1. First of all, we need to develop the basic spiritual disciplines you mention in your question: a structured and consistent daily prayer life (this doesn’t have to be as complicated as a monastic prayer life, just sincere and substantial); regular and fruitful reception of the sacraments, especially Communion and confession (this is the objective foundation of our communion with God – God’s grace is the stuff of which our friendship with Christ is made); and a reasonable, mature effort to overcome one’s selfish tendencies and to grow in virtue (spiritual reading, a program of life, and spiritual direction are a big help here, as we’ve mentioned in other posts).
  2. Secondly, we can experiment with practical techniques that will help us form the habit of remembering that we are never alone, that Jesus is at our side, eager to share our experiences and make them fruitful and meaningful. Here is where tactics like the spiritual bouquet come into play (choosing a phrase at the end of the morning meditation that you will use as a motto for the day, to keep in mind the insights and resolutions that came up in your meditation).  Here we can also get creative: using a screen-saver that will remind you of the Lord; keeping religious articles visible in key places that you will frequent during the day; programming reminders into your email calendar; praying the Angelus whenever you get into the car to go for a drive; dropping by a local shrine, chapel, or church on your way home from work, school, or shopping… Since the current of the culture in which we live flows in the direction of self-centeredness and self-absorption, we have to make a positive effort to swim against it. Practical tactics can help. But here’s a warning: these are only means to an end, so don’t be surprised if one such tactic helps you for a while but then stops “working.” When that happens, experiment with something else. I would love to hear about some of the tactics that our readers have used and found most helpful (just add them at the end of this post as a comment).
  3. Thirdly, and most importantly, you (and all of us, really) need to ask yourself why it has been difficult for you to “practice the presence of God.” Part of the reason will simply be the superficiality and pace of our culture. Part of the reason will also be habits of self-centeredness that you haven’t yet overcome. But a deeper reason may also be at work. When you go to a dinner party with people who are important, fashionable, and popular, but who you don’t know very well, you are a bit nervous. You are worried about making the right impression. You don’t want to commit a faux pas or inadvertently offend someone. You are excited to be invited, but the excitement is mixed in with some tension. Whether things go well or ill, at the end of the night, when you get back in the car to head home, you breathe a sigh of relief; driving home with your spouse or with an old friend, you can be yourself again. At the party you were sharing experiences with people, you were living in their presence, but you didn’t have a relationship of trust with them. With your old friend, on the other hand, you never have to worry about making a good impression; you don’t have to be anxious about what they may think of you. Your relationship is solid, resilient, familiar – you can relax together. At times, the biggest obstacle to our “practicing the presence of God” is a subtle, subconscious fear about what God thinks of us. In the back of our mind, we are concerned about making the right impression in God’s eyes, and so when we are “in his presence” we put on a show; we watch carefully over every word instead of speaking simply and from the heart; we try to live up to standards that we imagine God is expecting of us; we are afraid that if we don’t meet those extra expectations, God will be displeased with us – he won’t invite us back to the next party. This mindset discourages us from living in God’s presence, because we can’t relax, we can’t be ourselves if we are trying to live up to artificial expectations.

But God is not like that. He is not watching us like a hawk, just waiting for that faux pas, just looking for something to criticize. He knows us through and through already. He truly is the only friend who is perfect and perfectly committed to us. He wants to share every moment of our life, because he is simply that interested in our lives, like the oldest friend, the one we can always count on. That is how God is. The more deeply and fully we believe that, the easier and more natural it will be to live always in his presence.

Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC, ThD

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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  • hope

    This was so helpful, thanks Father.

  • http://www.momoften.webs.com/ Judy

    Father, THANK YOU! This post has greatly blessed me.
    You asked for us to share tactics we use to remind ourselves that we are in the presence of God…my family enjoys making and placing little signs throughout the house…in the kitchen, a quote from Teresa of Jesus: “God walks among the pots and pans”…on another wall is a small print of the Angelus painting and a sign that we made which reads “Stop to pray, every day”…on our chore chart it says “Help us to serve one another Oh Lord, with JOY, for love of YOU”.
    Thank you for inviting us to share with you Father:)
    What you wrote about worrying what God thinks of us and wanting to make a good impression has given me MUCH to ponder…God bless you in your vocation!

  • Daniel

    Any time I hear a police, Ambulance or Fire engine sounding it’s alarm I say ” God help all the people to whom that vehicle and its occupants have travelled to, and are travelling to and God rest the souls of all those to whom that vehicle and its occupants have travelled to, may be travelling to and shall travel to. I also say Jesus, Mary I love you save souls as a mantra when I am doing anything that doesn’t require the use of my mind – e,g. doing the dishes.

  • sabrina

    When I get in the car, I pray the St. Michael prayer and a Hail Mary for safety, and a Hail Mary during blessing of meals. I often find myself praying for other things too than what I originally intended.

  • Shirley Roesch

    Father, thank you for this Post…I had always from my early years, thanks to my mentors, thought of God often during the day, in prayers of thanksgiving and petition. I think my more intense journey began with teaching my children when they were very young. Besides the routine prayers, instruction in faith, and recognizing God in the beauty around us, I mentioned to say “Thank You Jesus”, for ‘everything’ that happened during the day, for the good; and for the bad or painful, “Thank You Jesus, for letting that not be as bad as it could of been and for helping me through it”. That kept Him upermost in our minds and hearts, and we grew from there.
    I am much older now, and I find God is continuing to lead me deeper into His Presence as I am now able to find quiet prayer and contemplation more frequently. When my family was young and growing, that was not always possible, but the frequent, small , quick meetings with God, that we practiced in the beginning, has sustained us all.
    Shirley

  • Guest

    Thank you Father John, for this wonderful post. At your request, I would like to share with my Spiritual Family on this Website how I organized myself to live each day in the presence of God. Thankfully, He has organized my life such that I have all the time for Him. So my day starts with Prayers while I am still in bed. After I wake up – as a Member of the Eucharistic Apostolate of Divine Mercy – I pray the set of suitable Prayers before the Image of the Divine Mercy: Thankgiving God for the protection during the night. Prayer for Entrustment to His Divine Mercy, Morning Offering Prayer followed by Prayers for the each day for the Sinners, the Sick and the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Prayer to Entrustment to my Personal Patron, the Holy Mother of God and then Prayer to my Guardian Angel. Prayer for my departed Parents, The Five Minutes’ Prayer to the Holy Spirit. These are followed by Prayers for the unbelievers, those who are still living in error, Prayer to Michael the Archangel. This is followed by Prayers of Invitation to Jesus to be in my life ending with the Prayer to the Holy Trinity to help me in my Daily Struggles.

    On my Laptop Desktop I have the Image of the Divine Mercy. I then embark on my daily Spiritual readings from the Internet. From Insight Daily Meditations to Minute Meditations, this Website, CNA, EWTN Church News, Catholic Online News and Prayers and Devotions, National Catholic Register and Divine Mercy Devotion Website News and Prayers. The afternoon begins with the 3.00 O’Clock Holy Hour Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament and praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for various petitions for different needs and categories of needy people in the Church and the world. The next hour is devoted to Spiritual Readings followed by the Holy Mass at 5.25 p.m. Back at home, with my Companion, we have the Holy Rosary through the Catholic Radio. At 10.00 p.m we have Scripture Readings followed by evening prayers. After this I spend half an hour in private Prayers, and while in bed, I end my day with praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the Intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On Fridays, I obseve the3.00 O’clock Holy Hour by Praying the Stations of the Cross and the Divine Mercy Chaplet followed by Meditation, after which I proceed to the neighbourhood Parish for the Evening Holy Mass. For Sundays I begin with the same Prayer schedule and then proceed to my Parish for the One Hour Blessed Sacrament Adoration before the Holy Mass at 11.30 a.m. The afternoons are spent with Spiritual readings.

    I am able to follow this schedule since I am a 72 year-old widow and by the Grace of God, I am able to live in God’s presence every day and follow the Prayer schedule for the Apostoles of the Eucharistic Divine Mercy. My greatest joy is the teachings and the knowldge I have gained from this Website which has helped my Spritual growth tremendeously.God bless you all

  • in_ipso

    Here are some things that have helped me. Mine are kind of girly, but I’m a girl, so that’s what works for us:

    Having breakfast with Him. I like to drink coffee and chat. When it’s hard to recognize His presence I grab a picture.

    When I’m out shopping or what not I like to chat with Him. And thank Him for the sparkly purple heels… 🙂 Or when getting a birthday gift, asking Him to help me pick out the perfect gift since He knows the person far better then I.

    I like to go on friend dates too: I get dressed up all fancy, do my hair, and go to Adoration. Let Him love you. 🙂

    What really helps, but I find difficult, is turning off the radio in the car. It’s easier to just zone out, but it’s better to chat with Him about where I’m going or what I just did.

    Or when I’m out at parties, I try to bring Him with me by inviting Him with me as I leave my car. That way, even if it’s loud and crazy and I get separated from my friends I have my bestfriend constantly with me. It keeps conversations with others uplifting and glorifying to HIm too!

    I tried for years to do a regular examen to no avail, until I paired it with something in my routine. Now I automatically start reflecting on the day when I’m washing my face/brushing my teeth at night.

    Or at night let God the Father tuck you in and fall asleep in His presence.

    I think the biggest thing is to ask Him to help. He’ll inspire practices that will work for you. And it makes your day a million times better!

    • $1650412

      in_ipso: I like you! @–%- Thanks for sharing this, especially the purple heels part ;o)!

    • Eherrera5

      I love this N I am going to try it.

    • Susan Bailey

      I LOVE your ideas, especially dressing up for Adoration. So sweet!

  • Mari Schembri

    Peace! One practical help which I do practice to help me be in the presence of God is by asking myself a very simple question. : What did God present to me today? Maybe a person or a good reflection on the media or a certain circumstance. Then even while I am doing my daily chores in my house I reflect what God tried to convey to me. Applying these messages practically in my lives which eventually can change me and help me to be nearer to my beloved Jesus. Then I am listening to him through these simple things which then helps me to be closer to him every moment of my life. Even maybe through difficult ones. May the name of Jesus always be glorified.

  • Janevella

    I Suggest it would be of great help in your spiritual life if you can find a spiritual friend (preferable of same sex). This I am experiencing myself, for sure it will be of great help and very fruitful. Pray, pray, pray and God will give you the right person at the right moment.

  • Mary Ann

    A company I worked for required that we change our computer password every 90 days. I had started with the pattern of using people who were important to me combined with the year of their birth. One day, when prompted for a new password I at first came up blank. I had used my husband, children, parents, siblings. As I sat there thinking, who else is important to me that I know the year of their birth, Jesus0000, came to mind. This opened up a whole series of passwords that incorporated the names of saints and prayer phrases. It was very helpful because anytime I had to “unlock” my computer, I needed to enter the password and that prompted me to say a quick prayer and take a moment to remind myself of the presence of God.

  • Sharon

    I wake up in the morning with thoughts, phrases, insights that repeat over and over. I know that this is a theme that God wants me to expore. I start by asking Him to help me to understand what he wishes me to learn from what He has given me, although I am tempted always to analyse it first, and most of the time do. It is only when I get up and start my electronic journal for the day do I type it in and ask for God’s edification. God then sends me something that usually brings tears to my eyes. Like this morning, I asked Jesus why He has forsaken me. He gave me to understand that our communication is faulty. Then I opened an e-mail and listened to a song that was sent to me and the words were from Jesus, “When I’m far away from you My Baby, I know it’s hard for you my Baby, because it’s hard for me my Baby, and the darkest hour is just before dawn.” This brought tears to my eyes because I knew it was from Jesus in loving response to my questioning of Him. Then I read this post. In all this I can see that He and I have a communication problem, and since the problem is certainly not Him, I know I have to be more aware to live in His presence more and stop trying to be so self-reliant. This is how we communicate at this point in my journey. It is not very clear and that makes me frustrated because I want to know and analyse all the time, but it works for now. I pray it will improve.

    • Becky Ward

      I LOVE music and how God uses it to communicate with us!! I’ve had experiences like what you describe………..Jesus speaking to you through the words of a song…….and it’s incredible.

      One of my tips is that I keep CD’s of various christian music in my car and at home to listen to. This helps me to avoid the noise and distraction of the radio and confirms the message of God’s love. I have everything from christian rock to John Michael Talbot and some beautiful meditative reflections………..and yet, there are still a few good old rock and roll songs that He has not asked me to give up, 🙂 and instead, He has provided a new perspective. The most amazing is ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ by Blue Oyster Cult. It’s basically a song about suicide…..but the music touches something in my soul and it calms me every time I hear it………God’s message through the song is, “Dont fear death……………take My hand………..and fly.”

      I also carry rosaries with me; at first it was one heavy duty cord rosary with wood beads that I held for strength after my sister died…..I can squeeze this very tightly without fear of it breaking. Then, I was drawn to keep a small ‘rosary of the unborn’ in my pocket…….it’s kind of like carrying them and their needs with me through the day. As has been stated often on this site, and gratefully read, God leads us and gives us each inspiration as He desires. The most recent rosary I carry is for priests and the priesthood……….it’s a symbol of gratitude for this most precious gift of shepherds, and petition for their needs and intentions.

      Thanks to all for sharing, this has been a very inspiring post!!

      • hope

        Hi Becky,
        I just had to mention something to you out of love. The song you mentioned about Don’t Fear the Reaper is disturbing, this is a song that promotes not fearing death even if it happens to be by suicide or whatever. To be calmed by a song that is promoting not fearing to die (by suicide or another way) is unhealthy. I cannot recall which saint said if you don’t fear death, you may already be dead. We all must die and yes it’s good to have a mentality of facing death with trust in God and his mercy, but the message in this song is NOT about having a Christian perspective towards death. I hope you can consider this, just because a song makes us feel better doesn’t mean it’s good for us. We all have to face death someday, but the way the Blue Oyster Cult presents this is in a disturbing way that contradicts our faith. Let us leave this earth and go to join our Lord without us choosing to go the way we choose. The reaper is always depicted as “death” rather than Christ our “life”.

        • Becky Ward

          Dear Hope,

          You make a valid point and I want to say at the outset that, in light of your concern I will discuss this with my spiritual director. It’s always good to shed more light on things like this.

          That said, the Internet is not always a good means of conveying what we want to say……..and perhaps I didn’t include enough information…..but all things are providential, and now I’ll add a couple bits of information in an effort to clarify.

          1. It would be interesting to know which saint said what they did about death from your post, and also the context in which it was said, because one of my favorite quotes from St. Teresa of Avila is: “Life is to live in such a way that we are not afraid to die.”

          2. There have been studies done on ‘healing frequencies’ in music, and while I don’t know for sure, I believe this is what happens when I hear this song. It’s the MUSIC, not the lyrics that soothe. There are also a handful of other songs with the same kind of a tone – pitch- flow, that I receive that same sense of relaxation from. In my faith journey God has drastically reduced and redirected the type quantity of music I listen to. Most of my favorite songs I can no longer listen to because of the content……….that’s why I am so amazed that this song is not one of them.

          3. I see a spiritual director regularly, and I study the lives of the saints and the teachings of the church faithfully. As strange as this may seem, when I hear the beginning cords of this song my heart and mind go straight to Jesus. In His message to ‘not fear death’………for me, in addition to death of the body, this meant the devil and evil…….and also the dying to self that was being asked of me at the time. I really don’t hear the lyrics anymore……I know what it feels like to be disturbed by evil and there is not even a hint of that when I listen to this song.

          4. I agree with you 100% that this song does not present a Christian perspective of death………and I have wondered if perhaps this might not have been the right example to use…………but this is what came to me as I was replying to Sharon. God works in mysterious ways, and I shared this in case it may be of help to others.

          Peace

          • Becky Ward

            Update: I did have an opportunity to speak with my spiritual director about this song. In light of other things he knows from my spiritual life he is not concerned, and in fact, gave me a couple new potential reasons for the experience.

            God only allows evil in order that He might bring a greater good from it. So now this ‘bad rock song’ is causing someone to pray.

            It also presents the opportunity to pray for the band members. They are not the first celebrities that God has placed in my heart and asked me to pray for………and I will – every time I hear the song now I will pray for them and all those like them.

            Thanks Hope!!

  • http://6webdesign.com/ Tim Norton

    this site is a treasure for posts like this …

  • Kay Stark

    I have diviniumofficium.org on my iPhone and can set alarms for the times of day to say it. It’s with me all the time and I stop whatever I’m doing (within safety and appropriate limits, of course) and say the psalms. It only takes a few minutes but brings me back to God.

  • Ralyge

    HI, Great article. This unrelated…I am sorry…but I would like to submit a question but can’t find the link to do so. Did I miss it?

  • Marjorie

    LC tactic recommended to me: associate a Hail Mary with negative recall. It becomes an interesting habit, like Daniel noted. Thanks to everyone for sharing here … I found this post and these comments very encouraging … nice to hear from fellow travelers.

  • Jesusbpraised

    So wonderfully and clearly put, Father. One of my greatest consolations is knowing that God knows all my ins and outs, my good and my malice, even into my depths….and loves me more than I can possibly imagine,,,in spite of, and perhaps, because of, all of this. His love is absolute and cannot change. If we strive to do all things for love of Him, we will always please Him,even when we fall short, because He knows our heart. We can then be content and have peace in our hearts always.

  • Carmen Sophia

    Here’s a few things I try to do: when I have to stop at a stopsign or red light I treat it as an invitation to spend a moment or two chatting with God. When I’m walking in a store or on the street I unite myself with him spiritually and try to see him in those around me. If someone looks sad or stressed I might smile and nod at them as a means of encouragement. If someone has a hairstyle or outfit that is nice, I might compliment them. If I remember to unite myself to God then I can count on him to help me notice those he feels would best benefit from this type of interaction. It makes my social interactions a spiritual blessing for all concerned including myself.

  • Wmpetzall

    Dear Fr Bartunek,
    Thanks for this explanation. St Josemaría, the founder of Opus Dei, used to say: “Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary work and you will have sanctified it.” (The Way, 359), and: “In our inner life, in our external behaviour, in our dealings with others, in our work, each of us must try to maintain a constant presence of God, conversing with him, carrying on a dialogue in a way that does not show outwardly. Or, rather, which as a rule does not express itself in audible words, but which certainly should show itself in the determination and loving care we put into carrying out all our duties, both great and small. Without such perseverance, our behaviour would hardly be consistent with our status as children of God, for we would have wasted the resources which Our Lord in his goodness has placed within our reach, in order that we may come to ‘perfect manhood, unto the measure of the fullness of Christ’.” (FRIENDS OF GOD, The Richness of Ordinary Life, 19).
    All the best!
    Wendy

  • Susan Bailey

    Wow, did this ever nail where I’m at right now! Thank you.

    I listen to podcasts on the way into work, usually the Daily Readings from the USCCB and then the Jesuit podcast, Pray As You Go. Or I’ll pray or sing my rosary (I recorded a Sung Rosary which I often sing). I got an iTouch for Christmas and use apps to help me pray and give me access to scripture. I downloaded a Catholic Bible app that was free, a Daughters of St. Paul rosary app (beautiful) plus their new Healing Prayer app which includes a prayer journal; the most helpful one is the new Confession app that’s been approved by the Church – HUGE help when it comes to the examination of conscience. Now instead of coming up blank with regards to sins, I am able to do a real examination. It’s based on the 10 commandments and you can add things.

    I love listening to the Divine Office when I go to bed at night at divineoffice.org – exquisite lectors and beautiful hymns.

    I also love listening to Catholic contemporary music – there’s a wide selection out there if you just google Catholic Music.

  • marjorie

    I’d like to trade Susan Bailey a copy of Liam Nesson’s Stations of the Cross for a copy of your sung Rosary. Anyone else have something that “keeps you in His Presence” to trade? I’m at memlouise@aol.com.

  • Em

    Thank you Father for this wonderful article. I started to practice the presence of God last year. I have had a regular prayer life for many years and added Mass daily. However, I too felt I was not progressing and that I could not do it. Thank you for the principles listed. I’m going to do it again.

  • friend

    There is no “formula” for “practicing being in His presence.” It has to come from within. You are being asked, gently and quietly, “Do you love Me?” Once you fall in love with Truth, Love, Himself, you find yourself begging for the support needed NOT to fall from His presence. It is by grace, a gift of sharing Divine Life with Christ, Himself, that we are in “The Light.”
    I found myself at Christmas time thinking about a line from a Christmas song, “in Him there is no darkness at all…”
    We can have no darkness at all to be in His presence. You cannot be hiding in shadows AND be “practicing the presence of God.” What is it in us that makes us try to hide in the shadows? I would ask this too. Why is it we are always looking around when we are driving to see if there is a cop watching us? We only drive safely when someone is watching?!
    We can’t think of God this way. As a “cop” watching us to see how fast we’re going…waiting to “catch us sinning again.”
    I do wish to share this. Read chapter 8 of JESUS OF NAZARETH by Pope Benedict XVI on St John’s Gospel. It changed my life! Next, ALLOW yourself to be address as “Beloved” (This was the hardest part for me. It is Jesus washing our feet. We MUST let Him serve us…)
    We then can pray to St John the Apostle for him to share his secrets. And he has many!

  • mary christ

    Father John Bartunek,

    Your evaluation and suggestions are near to perfect. How long did you have to pray to have theses responses or is this set off from past experience with prayer included? Thank Jesus we have wise leaders as yourself.
    Mary

  • Gooseyv

    Fr. Bartunek,
    this is so cool! It described both my daughter and I and fills in some gaps in conversations we have had and could not answer these things.

  • faithful123

    My way of sensing God’s presence, lately, is that of feeling HOPE even amidst the tensions read of in paper: war, job losses, budget cutting, government divided, abortion mentality of so many. YES; even amidst all the troubles of the day read about…I really can see that GOD is using it all to wake people up to their ways. I see amidst all the upheaval… the working OF GOD – bringing folk BACK to the ways that bring true prosperity.

    I think God is removing all the distractions that made so many look the other way to protect their ‘life’ … and when left to themselves; they are seeing the TRUTH. When ‘busy’ with jobs, making money, not being involved in wars…having a ‘peace’ of sorts…the TRUTH is not seen.

    GOD’S PRESENCE is felt amidst trials…quietly bringing folk BACK from ther errors they were living.

  • http://www.livingchrist.webs.com Andrelivingchrist

    What a wonderful post! The internet has been such a profound resource for me–here are some great spiritual communities [Pelianito’s Journal Blog, a great example]. It is so difficult to find good spiritual direction; most of our priests are so overworked; so thank you, Father. The internet makes it possible to reach many with the same concerns.

    I love the practice of the presence of God. I’m not always very successful. But I know that the key is simple PRAYER FROM THE HEART. Short simple prayers from the heart whenever anything in my life triggers them help me best, I guess. I set aside time after 10:00 p.m. as God’s time–my most concentrated prayer time. Divine office, rosary using internet helps, etc. I read from some of my favorite spiritual blogs and from favorite books, or the CCC or Bible. As I waken my spiritual sense, I can then get into deeper prayer or meditation. I generally conclude my prayers with the morning offering after midnight, or 1:00 or so, even later. I also practice True Devotion to Mary, so during the day I offer “All to Jesus through Mary” and “All for you, Jesus.”

    I am retired and am caring for an elderly, paraplegic husband. I tell Jesus that everything I do for my husband, I am doing for Him–just as if my husband were Jesus Himself. I respond quickly to my husband’s calls for assistance, because it is Jesus who is calling. Some days I am not as conscious of these things as other days–maybe I’m tired, or too dull; but my Morning Offering consoles me. I know I have made a firm intention with love from a sincere heart. I don’t obsess over these things. No one is kinder than God. No one understands our humanity and weakness better than He and our Blessed Mother who weeps for us. I offer her tears and my tears to our Father through Jesus. It’s as simple –as difficult–as profound as that. I will say that the longer you try to remember His presence, and the more faithful you are to your prayer life, the more God will bless your efforts, so persevere!
    I go to sleep with my rosary twined in my hands, and I know that I pray in my sleep. I have awakened conscious of this. Try the Jesus prayer, too. Constantly remembering your humility and frailty draws God’s goodness to you.

  • Em

    Dear Stryzz,
    Welcome Back! I think God asks us to be faithful one day at a time. Keep close to Him through the Mass, Adoration and the sacraments. Eventually you will understand how much he wants your love and you will be able to understand what He asks of you. Blessings!

  • 1slaveoflove

    My work computer is password protected, so I always set my password to something that will remind me of God. It self-locks every 2 minutes if I am not using it…so many times of day I type it and remember. For example:

    come2mehs (come to me Holy Spirit)
    mary4amdg (to Mary 4 the greater glory of God)

  • Avila Power

    Thank you Father John, I have your book ….The Better Part, and find it so helpful. I find that as I live alone, I love being alone more and more, and the silence helps me to focus on the presence of God in my life. In fact I would rather be alone with God, than to spend time talking about irrelevant subjects that do not uplift one at all. Silence for me is beautiful. Listening to the birds and the sounds of creation make me realize His presence.

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Love your email address!

    • Celeste Lovett

      What a blessing it was to have read your post. I am the same way! I also live alone and more and more just crave time alone for prayer, spiritual reading, spiritual journaling AND can never seem to get enough. (I also read the Better part every day.) Social events seem very tedious and when I do attend social events, my heart is thinking about just being back home engaged in spiritual activities. Sometimes I wonder if it is wrong to not be “out there” evangelizing and being of service to others “living out” my faith. I do offer my work with autistic children as part of that and tithe to a priest, but am not sure if I’m truly in God’s Will by wanting to be alone for so many hours of a day rather than “out there”. That is when I recall that we are many parts of one body and maybe for us (you and me) this is how we are being called to glorify God. Not sure though. I wonder what Father B would think? Could we just have a bit of that spirit that church hermits experience? I would like to be more active in the church, but I just don’t have that calling at all. Are we weird to love spending our free time alone with the Trinity, the Blessed Mother, and the COMMUNION of Saints?

  • Kleey

    Beautiful article. 
    I love love love Brother Lawrence! Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity is my favorite – a French Carmelite who is all about the Presence of God. Look her up!
    My best suggestion is to put a picture of the Lord or something spiritual as the background on your phone. A beautiful picture of Jesus melts my heart every time I see it – which is constantly, on my phone!!

    God Bless.

  • leslie

    Dear Fr John, I am amazed at your article but even more amazed that the Holy Spirit would lead me here to resolve a deep desire to want to start practicing the presence of God.

    I do believe that you have answered this nearly so perfect is only because you have been able to experience the “Presence of God” in a more tangible way.

    Honestly, thank you for your deep insights.. you have no idea what it has done to me.  Isn’t it so awesome that the Lord could use something that was discussed years ago to speak to someone in this present day and time.

    Thank you for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MGEE5L6JWXSXFIYXC2UAQNNWO4 Patricia

    Hello Father John

    some things to help me to create an awareness of God’s presence is use of spiritual music. The rosary and divine mercy has helped me to be aware of God’s presence as the Lord seems to talk to my heart and soul and makes me aware offten of my short commngs. I text God and drew pictures of God’s creation when I was a child and write poems of God and relationship of God. music and art are wonderful ways to connect with the presence of God. another way is going on a walk with God. I have problem offten to find a place where I can kneel and pray. I love to pray at night since I hardly sleep at night. It has been a blessing to know God is there when I can not sleep. I think to help stay and be aware of the presence of God we have to be like children clinging to our parents God the Father and Mary our Mother and to the sacraments. I have started spiritual direction and this is an added help. I have just purchased the books navigateing the interior life and the better part. Even though I am going through alot right now I can say I do feel God’s presence weather I feel i deserve such fathery attention he is there and I sometimes can sense him saying lets talk about this. we do live in a busy world and it takes effort but with the tools as you mentioned Father makes it eaiser for a soul who is willing to be aware and remain in the presence of God. I love to picture the eucharist too in adoration since it is some ways to get to an adoration chaple but I have learned I can close my eyes and he is there. What about online adoration. What are your thoughts on this as a couple times I did go online to adore our Lord I was however told it is better to physically adore our Lord in person. However for personal reasons I have to wait in obedience to my spiritual director to do adoration in person. I keep pushing though and one day it will be yes. I know the reason why and I do not question this. Mortification of Television and spending more time with God to pray or just listen to him and just be in his presence has helped me to grow in awareness of God constant presence with us not as a police or judge but as a loving father. Thank you for your article.

  • jack g.

    Thank you Fr. John
    I have sent this article out to hundreds of people on my list a couple of times. It is very well explained, the practice of the Presence of Our Daddy.
    Since I’ve been converted a few years ago I find myself growing spiritually, but many times in the invisible way. I have consecrated to Our Lady and I know for sure She leads me to The Holy Spirit, our Best Friend. I mean when you give yourself to Mary like that, She will bring us closer to God in so many different and beautiful ways.
    I find myself wondering many times in prayer or spiritual reading how Mary led me to do just that, or behave like this, or pray in a certain way. Many of times I will recognize that something is happening in the soul that I see as direct influence of Mary on my spiritual life and relationship with God in general.
    A few things I learned to practice every day to try to stay in the presence of God are as follows;
    – I pray Rosary every day, one part, and I use a CD with a Scriptural Rosary recorded with Bible verses every Hail Mary, so it gives me time to reflect on a selected mystery
    – I pray Divine Mercy Chaplet every day, wherever I can and preferably at 3-pm, but if it’s not 3pm, I try to put myself in the hour of Death of our Lord.
    – Every morning I would say an offering prayer to my Daddy, God the Father
    – I go to daily Mass, almost every day, at lucy hour
    – I adore Jesus weekly
    – I have holy pictures in my office, my car, my wallet, each room at my house
    – driving by a church I adore Jesus in my heart and thank Him for His presence in each Host around the world
    – I actually talk to Jesus, MAry, Holy Spirit, God The Father, Daddy, Holy Trinity, throughout the day depending on how busy my day is.
    – I ask my Lady and Mommy to help me return to The Lord as much as possible each day
    – I say sorry for little daily offenses right away and try to be better too
    – I sometimes feel as I was a 45 year old child talking to my Daddy
    – I talk about money, children, my wife and our sexual relationship too
    – I offer our marital intimacy to Jesus asking for this or that through the power of the Sacrament of Matrimony
    – I teach my children to pray, to see God as their 1st and best Daddy in heaven, and in their heart
    – I teach them about dying and going away home, and never being afraid to die, since it’s really a better stage of our destined life
    – I do my best in being more charitable to my wife and all, even those who offense me
    – I order masses said for those who are away from God but present in my life
    – I wear Christian apparel visible at my office where I work with people all the time, my customers,
    – I have Christian stickers on my car
    – I stand up for the Truth in real Catholic Teaching, not the diluted one popular nowadays, whether someone likes it or not; therefore arguing sometimes
    – I challenge all on my path of life in many little ways, evangelizing at all times
    This sounds like a lot, but in reality it becomes actually easy and joyful once you really commit yourself to Jesus in everything you, feel, think, do and say; therefore you let Him live in you freely. This leads to sharing my wealth with others in many ways. Jesus in me wants me to evangelize, what is the purpose of each Christian, to proclaim Jesus and the Gospel at all times and in all we do.
    It becomes easier when we give our lives sincerely without doubt and reserve to God, in return He gives us spiritual candies and lots of interior joy, peace and courage.
    When I am in distress or when I do something I should not do, like yell at my wife, of argue, then I run to my Daddy, cry and repent and ask to help me. I do not hide from God because I know that even if I sin, He loves me the same and wants to make me clean again.
    I know that daily Communion is a ….. I am speechless,,,,,
    What can I possibly say to describe the Gift in daily Mass and Communion, when I meet, touch, receive and live my God, so humble just for me.
    I read lots of mystics, because they knew God best, because they love Him the most and by reading them I find myself knowing God a bit more each day.
    I offer my daily work and actually all I do to God and constantly pray for the sinners who are dying at every moment of the day.
    Roughly 150,000 people die each day so that is a lot of people to pray for, since most of them do not have any relationship with God, or a vague one, many of them dying in a state of sin, and so God calls me to offer my prayers. I beg my Daddy with tears to save them and give them the grace of repentance.
    I believe that anyone can receive if asks God to be able to live in His presence. It obviously takes some commitment, especially to pray daily, try to go to daily Mass and regular confession.
    But to have a relationship with God we need to spent time with Him, in many ways and as much as our daily lives allow us to do.
    I quit TV and sports for the sake of family time and prayer time, or spiritual reading time. God rewards me with this beautiful daily awareness of His Presence in my daily life. Sometimes I just can’t wait to die in a way, not that I want to die, but that I desire to be closer to Him, Who IS Life, Love and ALL.
    I always ask my Daddy to show all his children His Love, so they can desire Him, love Him, first Him more and more each day.
    Yours in the Love of Jesus, jack g.

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