The Scriptures tell us that Jesus “appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14).
One of the primary reasons Jesus choose the twelve was so that they could “be with him.” These particular 12 (as well as other male and female disciples) ate with Jesus, stayed with Jesus, worked with Jesus, had fun with Jesus, and saw him teach, preach, cast out demons, and heal the sick.
The purpose of being with Jesus also echoes in the invitation Jesus offers to all of us, “Come, follow me.”
Being With God
Throughout the Scriptures and the history of the church, this type of relationship of being with God has been described in different ways:
- Jesus called it abiding.
- Paul referred to it as praying without ceasing.
- The Desert Fathers wrote about contemplative prayer.
- Brother Lawrence called it “the practice of the presence of God.”
Whatever the terms or descriptions may be, the purpose is to be with God throughout our day – not just for a few moments after we wake up or briefly before eating a meal or when we get into the car and worship music is playing.
Being with God means:
- Eating breakfast tacos (or pop tarts!) and in the presence of Jesus.
- Drinking coffee with a friend and in the Father’s presence.
- Commuting to work or driving to the store and dwelling with the Holy Spirit.
- Returning emails or doing homework with Jesus.
- Playing with your children and being in the presence of Jesus.
In regards to developing a life of being with God, Dallas Willard wrote, “The first and most basic thing we can and must do is to keep God before our minds. . . Our part in thus practicing the presence of God is to direct and redirect our minds constantly to Him.”
For me, it is a daily struggle to keep God always before my mind. Some days, it feels like a massive victory if I even think about God 3-4 times throughout my day. I find myself constantly seeking to redirect my mind back to God.
The reason I long to be with God is not to earn anything from him, but rather to enjoy and glorify him.
If you spent ten straight hours in the presence of God, your Father would not love you anymore. If you only spent ten seconds with God in a single day, your Father would not love you any less. Remember, your identity in Christ! God already loves you completely in Jesus. You cannot earn or forfeit any amount of his passionate, fierce, and loyal love for you. That is why I long to be with God and to abide in his love.
The Challenge We Face
So here’s the question I am pondering, “How can I practice God’s presence throughout my day?”
William Paulsell proclaimed:
“It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner. There will be a need for some intentional commitment and some reorganization in our own lives. But there is nothing that will enrich our lives more than a deeper and clearer perception of God’s presence in the routine of daily living.”
Paulsell’s comment challenges me:
- I must be intentional – I cannot just desire a deeper relationship with God. I must put forth the effort.
- I must reorganize my life – I must move, or even remove, certain things in my life to create space for God.
- I must prioritize – To seek first God and his Kingdom becomes my “first thing” in life.
- It is worth it! – Nothing in life is better than being with God. Nothing!
In today’s noisy, hyper-connective, phone-addictive culture, we must be more intentional than ever in our efforts to be with God.
Living in an awareness and connection with God is a lifetime journey with Jesus of reorienting our lives around the lifestyle of Jesus and following him.
Early Mornings With God
One of Jesus’ spiritual practices involved spending intentional time alone with God at the beginning of each day. Mark 1:35 informs us this regular habit of Jesus, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
Here are some practical suggestions in developing a spiritual rhythm of being with God early in the morning. Please understand this is merely a suggestion – you are free to do whatever you feel the Holy Spirit is directing you to do. My goal is to encourage you in this practice of Jesus. If you have already developed a spiritual rhythm of spending time alone with God, then seek some creative ways to make it even more meaningful. So here are some practical ideas:
- Wake up at least 20 minutes earlier than usual.
To help get up earlier here are some suggestions: go to bed 20 minutes earlier, place your alarm on the other side of the room so you cannot simply hit the snooze button and roll back over to sleep, and set multiple alarms if needed.
- Get out of bed right away.
No snoozing! To help wake up do some jumping jacks, throw some water on your face, start the coffee, etc.
- Stay off your phone!
Do not get on or even look at your phone for at least the first 30 minutes after waking up. We live in a noisy, demanding world, let’s delay entering it for just a bit. Don’t snooze your alarm; snooze being on your phone.
- Spend time with God
Try to spend at least 10 minutes alone with God. My challenge is not to turn on worship music at this point. Just be with God. Listen and talk. Have an interactive conversation. After 10 minutes feel free to worship, read the Scriptures, or do a devotional. Have fun with Jesus!
Here is a wonderful promise from the Scriptures, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).