Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life
Practicing God’s Presence
Where I Am Re-formed
1 – I have been created to be like God, and to live continually in his Presence. These two reinforce each other.
2 – The more time I spend in God’s Presence the more I become like him. The more I become like him the more I desire to be in his Presence.
3 – Why then does entering God’s Presence and staying there seem so hard, so unnatural? Because I chose to go away from him. This damaged me.
4 – Separated from God’s Presence, our inner lives became badly distorted. Trying to find our way on our own, harmful habits took root within.
5 – Distanced from Reality, being with God came to seem undesirable—unobtainable. Our need now is to be forgiven, cleansed, healed, re-formed.
6 – David’s capacity to sin showed the state of his inner life “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10).
7 – Learning how to live in God’s Presence involves daily
- dying with Christ to the old life and
- relying on Christ for resurrection life.
8 – Isn’t God everywhere? Surely I am always in his Presence. In one sense this is true. But we are referring to “presence” in another sense.
9 – Two people can be in the same room yet one not be “present” to the other. One can be relationally withdrawn while still physically “there.”
10 – Humans can go away from God’s Presence. “Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod” (Genesis 4:6).
11 – God is always and everywhere present to us, but we are not always present to him. In our ruined state we have learned to “block him out.”
12 – Practicing God’s Presence involves choosing actions to
- un-learn blocking God out and
- re-learn coming present to him and staying there.
13 – God is Spirit. He does not normally make himself present to us through our physical senses, although he certainly can whenever he wishes.
14 – To practice God’s Presence
- I rely on the fact that God is there and
- I choose actions to help place my thoughts on him and keep them there.
15 – As my thoughts wander from God, I learn to train them to return in shorter and shorter intervals. I ask the Spirit to transform my thoughts.
16 – In what way is all this “practice”? Learning any skill is practice: playing an instrument, speaking a language, mastering a sport, becoming a surgeon.
17 – To un-learn the wrong, then re-learn the right, some instruction is required. But there is no substitute for practice, practice, practice.
18 – Practice—moment by moment choices to establish new habits—is key to inner change. The Holy Spirit does the work; my choices invite him in.
19 – The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), abide in Christ (John 15:4), be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). To do one is to do all.
20 – These are all commands—activities for which we are responsible, relying on God. They describe “practicing” or “living in” God’s Presence.
21 – Prerequisite for living in God’s Presence is knowing how to access his forgiveness and cleansing. The cross of Christ accomplishes this.
22 – In prayer I bring sins of which I am aware to Christ on the cross. I tell him the truth (confession). I ask for forgiveness and cleansing.
23 – Having brought my sin to Christ on the cross, I thank him for his forgiveness. I then wait to hear anything more he would say to me. I obey.
24 – As I bring my sins to Christ on the cross, I may not feel anything. Feelings are not required; truth in the inner life is required.
25 – The healing of my person begins when
- I come into God’s Presence
- I listen for the healing word he is always ready to speak and
- I obey.
26 – I cannot heal myself. I cannot make myself holy. But I can learn how to obey. Jesus teaches me how in apprenticeship to him.
27 – Practicing God’s Presence is supported by spiritual exercises—activities for training the inner life—disciplines we learn from Jesus.
28 – Spiritual practices—prayer, study, fasting, giving, etc.—have no power to earn me favor with God. Nothing does! Favor with God is a gift.
29 – We freely choose spiritual practices
- to counteract the effects of inner damage and
- to open our lives to God’s transforming Presence.
30 – Exercises to train the spirit are like exercises to train the body. Dallas Willard “Grace is not opposed to effort; grace is opposed to earning”.
31 – “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalms 16:11)
Draft: Updated—November 2016
Copyright © George Miley. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews. To obtain permission to use this material, contact us.