Practising God's Presence
Stretching my capacity to recognize and experience God’s presence in my story has become the sweet spot of my spiritual journey. I find hope and freedom knowing that God is present and active in my life, whether or not I see Him. The good news is that it’s a learned behavior we can cultivate. I find journaling to be one of the most effective tools for capturing God’s activity in our story. You’ve heard me speak of the importance of creating sacred space (and a sacred place) where we meet with Father. My journal has become the place where I carry on my conversation with Father and where I then chronicle His activity. I’m regularly asked for suggestions in how to journal in a way that is more intentional and dynamic than simply keeping a log of daily activities. Larry Crabb’s most recent book, The Papa Prayer: The Prayer You've Never Prayed suggests a refreshing pathway for carrying on a life-changing conversation with God. I’ve been using it as the format for my journaling the past few months and have so enjoyed my experience that I want to share it with you. What follows is a very simple overview of the PAPA Prayer approach.
The starting point in the conversation is to present yourself authentically to Father in whatever place you find yourself at that moment. I often begin with a phrase such as, “Father as I sit before you I feel…or I find myself…”. The objective here is to be fully present with Father – who you are and where you are – whether good or bad. You’re simply acknowledging the reality of your experience and inviting Father into the reality of your story in the present moment.
Spend some time reflecting upon (attending to) who God really is as revealed in the Scriptures. Here my thoughts and heart drift to God’s person and the ways it might orient or reorient my perspective toward what I’ve just presented to Him. Sometimes I use the words of Scripture and sometimes the words are my own. But it’s always personal, “You are my…”. But be honest here. It’s easy for me to describe God in terms of what I would like Him to be (based upon my desires or needs) or what I think He is (based upon my life experience). Stand before God as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, not your distortions of Him.
Now come before Father in a posture of humility and confession naming whatever is blocking your intimacy with Him at the moment. This will require some courageous honesty. Simply acknowledge and name your sinful patterns or self-obsessions, without offering any excuses or explanations. Stand naked before His holiness. I’ve been surprised by the freedom I’ve experienced in this process. While I often feel sadness at what I write rarely do I feel shame. It’s a moment to meet with my Father to enjoy the cleansing and forgiveness He makes so freely available.
Finally approach God with the confidence that He loves you and delights in giving you the things you most deeply desire. I’ve experienced an emotional release here that seems to be born out of an expanded capacity to rest in Father’s provision for me. It serves as a prelude to receiving Father’s best for me.
Fighting For Your Hearts,