Pay Attention to God's Presence
- Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Leighton Ford's new book, The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things, (InterVarsity Press, 2008).
God is always with you, yet in this busy world it’s easy to become so distracted that you aren’t aware of it. You can count on God’s presence at all times and in all situations, since He pays close attention to you. However, God doesn’t force His attentions upon you. He waits patiently, reaching out to you with love, eager for you to discover Him. To find Him, you must learn how to pay attention.
Here’s how you can discover God’s presence in deeper ways by learning how to pay attention:
Focus on what God is doing instead of what you’re doing for Him. Become aware of what God is up to in your life and seek to cooperate with that work, rather than making your own plans and asking Him to bless them. Pattern your life on Jesus rather than your inner compulsions or outer expectations. Every day, invite God to transform you to become more like Jesus. Pursue what God wants for your life by basing your decisions on His guidance, and you’ll discover much more about Him in the process.
Develop the qualities of attentiveness. Ask God to help you: be fully present in each moment, study something long enough to learn something new about it, look at something familiar with a fresh perspective, be available, be aware, wait with expectancy, be mindful, and be wakeful. Make it your goal to see God in all things, and all things in God.
Learn from your spiritual steppingstones. Make some time in a quiet place to recall any major events or relationships that had a deep spiritual influence on you. Try to recall not just the outward circumstances, but the inner meaning it had for you. Use a piece of paper to draw a circle for each one, and write a few words in each circle to describe what you recall. Thank God for each of the steppingstones. Study them to learn in which areas you need more insight and growth.
Get enough sleep. It’s hard to pay attention when you’re sleep deprived. But when you’re well rested, you’re able to concentrate well and are likely to notice much more of what God is doing in your life. Change your schedule to make getting enough sleep each night a high priority. Keep in mind that sleep is also a spiritual exercise, because it’s an expression of trust – resting in the knowledge that you don’t need to try to control your life, and that God will care for you at all times, including while you’re completely unconscious.
Devote your first thoughts of each day to God. When you first wake up each day, turn your thoughts immediately toward God and pray simply that during the day to come, God would open your eyes to His presence in new and deeper ways. Then – even if you just have a brief amount of time – spend some time listening to what the Holy Spirit may have to say to you for each new day.
Seek a fresh perspective. Ask God to help you look at life from His perspective – at any time (not just special times), anywhere (not just in certain places) and toward anyone (not just particular people). Pray whenever you need help looking beyond your own limited view.
Abide in Christ. Decide every day that you will listen for Jesus’ guidance and respond to it with obedience motivated by love. Make a habit of listening first to Jesus’ words rather than your own needs and desires, then responding in the ways that best show your love for Him.
Notice those in need around you. Strike a healthy balance between paying attention to God and paying attention to the people in need who He wants you to serve. Be prepared to love God by answering His call to help others whenever He leads you to do so. Pray to be able to see whoever you meet with Jesus’ eyes and do whatever work you do as if you had Jesus’ hands. Expect that, as you serve, you’ll become aware of the realities in which you’re immersed but were previously unaware.
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