Now, may the Lord himself, the Lord of peace, pour into you his peace in every circumstance and in every possible way. The Lord’s tangible presence be with you all.  2 Thessalonians 3:16 TPT

I write a lot about practicing the presence of God. I want to be in His presence – all the time.

I’m not.

I think Jesus was in the presence of God all the time. I believe the Apostle Paul was there most of the time. I am there some of the time. But the times that I absolutely know that I’m in the presence of God change my life.

Practicing the presence of God, like falling in love and then staying in love, is about small disciplines. Not large heroic deeds or large disciplines like memorizing the entire book of Psalms in one summer. Presence, like love, requires attention to detail. Not legalistic rules that constrict but awareness of relational need.

Example: getting up in the morning thinking, “I didn’t have a great time of prayer yesterday. God, I’m going for a walk to talk with you today.” Or a spouse, “We haven’t spent much time together recently. How about a babysitter and dinner on Friday night?”

Not conquering mountains but staying on the narrow path.

Practicing the presence of God, like staying in love, is about listening to a quiet voice. Those who listen regularly to God can hear His voice inside a stadium right after a victory.

What! We just won the NCAA basketball championship! High fives, God! 

First, you learn to listen in quiet places, then you can hear anywhere. I see mothers on a playground pick out their child’s distress cry – knowing it is a distress cry – in the midst of dozens of screaming children.

The mother has listened to her child cry in the middle of the night.

Practicing the presence of God is learning the difference between challenge/conviction and anxiety. A common experience with God’s or angelic presence is fear. Fear from God’s presence, or His voice asking you to do something, is normal and healthy. Anxiety from a fear of unknown consequences isn’t God giving caution. It is you talking to yourself.

Wisdom from experience discerns healthy from unhealthy fear.

Listening to God’s voice:

  1. Small and changing disciplines. In all relationships, the expressions of love change or they become a dry routine.
  2. Listening to the quiet voice. Life is loud, but there is a voice of God in all our blessings and trials no matter the volume. Familiarity begins with solitude.
  3. Conviction or anxiety? Conviction eases with obedience; anxiety doesn’t leave until there is obedience. Running from God saying “no,” whatever the self-induced excuse, causes anxiety.

Small disciplines, listening, and conviction all bring a yielding to God’s will. Walking in His presence equates to peace. Peace is the powerful force of God’s presence that can’t be diminished by spiritual warfare or life’s difficulties. Peace emanates from God’s presence with His light casting out darkness.

The overriding question about whether you are listening and obeying God’s voice: do you have peace?

A final principle of peace:

You can listen, walk in obedience, and then get impatient and outrun God’s peace. Peace has a rhythm that never violates relationship. Pastors, and those serving the Lord, too often, in the name of God, run ahead of His pace finding themselves alone without peace, and often without relationships.