Practicing the

Presence of God

Together

NEW GROUPS FORMING!/Practicing God's Presence/Tending Your Soul Groups- coming January 2020!!

"While repairing sandals or working in the kitchen,

Brother Lawrence discovered and then followed a pure and uncomplicated way

to walk continually in God’s presence.

For some forty years, he lived and walked with God at his side."

In our group time we will gain wisdom from the writings of Brother Lawrence, Dallas Willard, Leann Payne, St Ignatius,  Thomas Merton, the Life Model Works materials, C.S. Lewis and a few others- while staying anchored in God's Word.  We will come together each week to practice the Presence of God together, as we tend to our souls.  There will be time for contemplative prayer and a reading of God's Word, time for experiential practicing, a short discussion period, and a light teaching around the difficulties and necessity of making this promised reality of Immanuel, God with us, more of a tangible part of our lives.

"David knew this secret and wrote,

'I have set the Lord continually before me;

because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely'

(Ps. 16:8-9, NASB).

This is the fundamental secret of caring for our souls."

-Dallas Willard

 

Come cozy up in the presence of Jesus and with other lovers of Christ this winter!

SAVE YOUR SPOT AT THE TABLE!

Registration is open. Limited group sizes (min. of 6 required to hold the class max. of 10)

Open to both men & women.  Please RSVP by 1/15/20, as this helps us to finalize the schedule & locations.

All groups are facilitated by Cecilia T. Whitacre.

Group A) in Wheaton, IL at Church of the Resurrection beginning Saturday Afternoons 1-3pm / January 18th through March 14th, 2020 / Eight gatherings (no class 2/22).  [This is not a church event, but is hosted by AOCW at the church and facilitated by Cecilia T. Whitacre]

Group B) in Palatine, IL beginning Friday(possible Wednesdays) mornings 9:30-11:30am / January 17th through March 13th, 2020 / Eight gatherings (no class 2/19)

If you missed this first session, a second offering of this group will be offered beginning in April.

Topics we hope to cover...

Each week I'll highlight an author that has written specifically about God's Presence.  Anchoring each session in Scripture, we'll then learn from a range of authors, from the ancient Desert Mothers & Fathers to more contemporary writers.

We'll discuss things like...

What is Presence? / What is your soul-spirit -the part of you that communions with God's presence? / What is the difference between meditation & contemplative prayer? / What does God's presence feel & look like? / Why is it important to experience God's presence? / How can I know it's God? / Why do I need to "practice"? /  The difficulties of maintaining awareness of God's Presence / Hindrances & Blocks that get in the way

We'll Practice together...

And just as important, we will take time each week to practice together, using trusted spiritual disciplines and exercises, as we share our desire for Immanuel, God with us.

Suggested fee: $120 includes all Eight facilitated group meetings plus a book & materials $20 (total of $140).

But please don't let the cost keep you from attending.  Scholarships & monthly plans are often available.

Discounted fee for College Students, please inquire.

(**Bonus**  Group members receive a 10% discount off the Lenten Retreat  - Feb. 2020!)

Please RSVP by Jan. 15th or

Register now for our next session Beginning April 2020!

fees are non-refundable

Here are some questions that may help you discern if this group is a good fit for you:

Do you desire support and enrichment in learning a more contemplative spiritual way of life?

Do you long for a safe spiritual community where you can come honestly with your questions, concerns, doubts & dreams?

Do you wish to develop or deepen your prayer life and relationship with Christ?

Do you desire to open more fully to God? Do you hunger for the experience of God and to learn from Him?

Have your usual spiritual practices and prayer life dried up or left you longing for more?

Are you looking for people and community where deeper conversations about life in Christ are happening?

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Does the Bible teach us to "practice" God's presence?

Practicing God’s presence is a deeply biblical idea, though the exact phrase of "practice" is never used in Scripture, being in God's presence is however, spoken of and modeled throughout by Jesus, the Prophets, Disciples and followers of God.

We hear a lot about our need to have a "relationship" with Jesus. Yet, how can one have a "relationship" with another without being in their presence?

 

At its heart, this practicing is about “discerning, and developing ways for becoming more aware of God’s presence in all of life.” The Bible uses language such as “abiding,” “remaining” in Christ, “walking with God,” "being still and knowing God," "hearing His still small voice" and “keeping in step with the Spirit.” Other commands of Scripture indirectly refer and call us to be and know God’s presence.  Ongoing practices that can aid us in this endeavor, empowered by His Holy Spirit, are encouraged and modeled throughout scripture.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. I

f I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

(Psalm 139:7-10)

Why do we need to Practice?

Why do we need to "practice" anything? Shouldn't we just become connected to God deeply when we first become a Christian? 

I don't know about you- but that didn't happen automatically for me.

God is always in our midst, but we are often unaware of His presence due to our fallen nature, our own choices, the evil one tempting us and the constant distractions of the world.

The reality is the only way to learn or experience something more refined, is to practice.   Practicing is a natural law of life that God has place in our world.

Why is the concept of practice so important? Well, the reason is pretty obvious. It helps you improve and get better at something.   If you routinely practice something, the likelihood of you doing "it" better is higher.  Like playing a musical instrument, the more you practice the more tuned in your ear is and you play and create much more beautiful music with practice.

Now, it might sound odd to practice a relationship or someone's presence, but you actually do that already.  When you first meet someone and you get to know them, you are learning about and experiencing being in their presence.  You learn what it's like to be with them; you learn about them, what they like and dislike, what it feels like for you to be with them, the sound and intonations of their voice, etc.  The more time you spend with them, the more you know and the better aware you become of the person before you.

QUOTES & THOUGHTS ABOUT PRACTICING GOD'S PRESENCE...

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
- Brother Lawrence

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend … in fact to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.”

– C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

If broken lives and souls are to be healed, it must begin with teaching the practice of the presence... To abide in the presence of the Lord is to begin to hear Him. To follow through on that hearing is to find healing, self-acceptance, and growth into psychological and spiritual balance and maturity.

- Leanne Payne: Listening Prayer

"Our ideas about prayer have been so damaged by our rational way of thinking that sometimes I think it would be good if we had another word for prayer.  As a starting place we could think of prayer as communication.  Communication happens in any relationship, including our relationship with God.  It happens at any and all times, not just in our set times of prayer, although this is where we give our total attention to communicating with God.  On our spiritual journey, prayer is our way of communicating in our love relationship with God." 

-Joann Nesser, Contemplative Prayer; Praying When the Well Runs Dry

"Christians are often taught that our main line of defense against this clamorous, invasive world is a daily quiet time. If we’re disciplined enough to practice this, we usually “complete” it before leaving our homes in the morning. Then we head out into the rest of our day, having compartmentalized our God life, leaving our Bible and our relationship with Jesus on our desk or bedside table.

     Sure, it’s good to give the first—or the last—moments of our day to God. But what about the rest of the day?

It’s so easy for our hearts and heads to end up somewhere else. Is that how God really wants us to live? Is that what he really had in mind when he said he’d give us abundant life (John 10:10)? . . . We [should] take our life with God—and our awareness of his presence—with us everywhere, not just into our quiet times but into our noisy times too, incorporating practices into our lives that help us keep that awareness right in front of us, throughout the day, every day.”
—Professor; Kenneth Boa

D.L. Moody had many years of successful ministry, when one day he had a powerful experience with God.

Moody writes:
"I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it, it is almost too sacred an experience to name… I can only say God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world; it would be as small dust in the balance.”

Being with Jesus

But if I am to be someone’s apprentice, there is one absolutely essential condition. I must be with that person. This is true of the student-teacher relationship in all generality. And it is precisely what it meant to follow Jesus when he was here in human form. To follow him meant, in the first place, to be with him.

If I am Jesus’ disciple that means I am with him to learn from him how to be like him. To take cases from ordinary life, a child learning to multiply and divide numbers is an apprentice to its teacher. Children are with their teachers, learning from them how to be like them in a certain respect—similarly for a student of the piano or voice, of the Spanish language, of tennis, and so forth. The “being-with,” by watching and by hearing, is an absolute necessity. . . .

God as personality is not a physical reality that everyone must see whether they want to or not. He can, of course, make himself present to the human mind in any way he chooses. But—for good reasons rooted deeply in the nature of the person and of personal relationships—his preferred way is to speak, to communicate: thus the absolute centrality of scripture to our discipleship. And this, among other things, is the reason why an extensive use of solitude and silence is so basic for growth of the human spirit, for they form an appropriate context for listening and speaking to God.

From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. HarperCollins Publishers.

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