Points of Presence

A number of years ago I read the classic from Brother Lawrence The Practice of the Presence of God. I found the concept winsome and alluring but did not see how I could adopt his practices into my life. He was a monk who spent time peeling potatoes and, well, being a monk. My life was filled with work, ministry and family that were all highly cognitive and highly relational. I tried many things to develop the habit of practicing the presence of God but failed miserably.

Then about 10 years ago I came across Frank Laubach’s Game with Minutes. Here was a man who led a worldwide organization that taught millions of people to read. Clearly Frank was not living the lifestyle of a monk. Yet he claimed that through the habit of the Game with Minutes, he was able to connect with God / to be aware of His presence 24/7. He journals about the difficulty at first but that he finally achieved a breakthrough where for the rest of his life he was able to connect with God every minute of every hour of every day. Again, the Game with Minutes was a failure for me. I was never even close to acknowledging God every minute of every day.

Recently I was preaching on the 24/7 presence of the Holy Spirit and developed a simple spiritual discipline that I call Points of Presence. The book, Present Perfect was the vehicle that God used to teach me this simple discipline. For the first time, I began seeing progress in learning to practice the presence of God. I have used this to provide points of intersection with God’s Spirit throughout the day.


In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young records the following words that she believes she received from Jesus:

The best defense [against anxious thoughts] is continual communication with Me, richly seasoned with thanksgiving. Awareness of My Presence fills your mind with Light and Peace, leaving no room for fear.

Dallas Willard, in his book The Great Omission says the following:

The first and most basic thing we can and must do is to keep God before our minds. David knew this secret and wrote, “I keep the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure” (Psalm 16:8-9).

This is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls. Our part in this practicing the presence of God is to direct and redirect our minds constantly to Him. In the early time of our practicing, we may well be challenged by our burdensome habits of dwelling on things less than God. But these are habits—not the law of gravity—and can be broken. A new, grace-filled habit will replace the former ones as we take intentional steps toward keeping God before us. Soon our minds will return to God as the needle of a compass constantly returns to the north, no matter how the compass is moved. If God is the great longing of our souls, He will become the polestar of our inward beings.

I offer this discipline to help you be in continual communication with God with the prayer that you would learn to walk with the Spirit / to keep in step with the Spirit throughout your busy and cluttered life.
Points of Presence
A Simple Spiritual Discipline
Objective:To learn to acknowledge God in everything you do and everywhere you are. Another way to describe this is to be awake to or aware of God’s presence 24/7.
Pick a Trinitarian name to acknowledge throughout the day as a breath prayer
  • Jesus
  • Father
  • Spirit
  • Lord
  • Abba
Pick just one thing that you do many times every day to use the breath prayer throughout the day. Here are some that I use:
  • Send / receive email
  • Send / receive text
  • Make / receive a phone call
  • Drive past a speed limit sign
  • Move from room to room
  • Pick up your phone
  • Turn a page in a book
  • Take a bite to eat or take a drink.
  • Start a new phase of a project
I drive a lot, send a lot of emails and pick up my phone a lot throughout the day. The idea was to take these things I do many times every day and build a habit of acknowledging God when I do them. It was very important for me to do this one habit at a time. I started with driving. Every time I pass a speed limit sign, I take a deep breath and exhale: “Jesus” or “Father” or “Thank You.”  After I ingrained this point of presence into the fabric of my life I added another point of presence. And so on. Now, every time I pick up my phone or send an email I take a deep breath and then exhale: “Lord” or “Abba.” In another month or two I will add yet another point of presence.
I strongly encourage you to build these up one at a time.  Don’t add another until you have the one you are working on built in as a habit (for me about a month).  Then add another.  And so on. Keep going until, “In everything you do and everywhere you go” you acknowledge God (See Proverbs 3:5-6). 
As this process of “acknowledging” has grown, I have begun to deepen the breath prayers from one-way monologues into times of listening or intercession. For example: “”Bless Jon as he receives this email.” OR “Speak Lord.” As you expand your points of contact with the presence of God throughout the day, you can begin to listen for His voice during these points of presence.
Yesterday, the text for the sermon was Psalm 100. I was reminded that these points of presence are times of entering into His presence. And the Psalmist’s injunction is instructive: Come into His presence with singing; Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise! As you make contact with the triune God during these points of presence, make it a moment of praise and thanksgiving.
Here are some other books that have helped me along this path:

Present Perfect by Greg Boyd – This was a wonderfully helpful book. Greg wrote it even though he hasn’t perfected the discipline. And that helps. He provides several ways to practice the presence of God at the end of each chapter. Don’t miss them.
Life in the Presence of God by Ken Boa – this book has over 100 every day ways to connect to God. This might help you more than it helped me. I need things that repeat day in and day out so that I can cultivate the habit. 
The Attentive Life by Leighton Ford – This book takes a little different turn – and although it didn’t move me down the field in terms of cultivating a 24/7 habit, it presses the same point with different helps along the way.
May the Lord use this simple discipline in your life to deepen your relationship with Him.