Listenings: Practicing the Present Moment

Nouwen writes that prayer is “practicing the present moment” (p. 23).  He connects his statement to the devotional classic by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, The Sacrament of the Present Moment.

Prayer concentrates our attentiveness upon the present moment precisely because that is where the will of God is to be found.  We cannot back to yesterday and tomorrow has not yet come.  God guides us in the “here and now.”  So, we must pray to find and follow God in the present moment.

Frank Laubach’s daily morning prayer included the question, “God, what are you doing in the world today that I can help you with?”  That was Laubach’s way of connecting his spirit and God’s Spirit to the present moment.

No matter what words we use, we should seek to do the same.  This is what Brother Lawrence meant when he spoke of “practicing the presence of God,” and it is the key to understanding what Paul meant when he encourages us to “pray without ceasing.”

The present moment “never ceases,” so when we pray in it, our prayers never cease either.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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3 Responses to Listenings: Practicing the Present Moment

  1. Burrell Dinnkins says:

    Steve: After reading Frank Lauback’ writings I suggested that our “Volunteers for Missions” organization invited him to speak at Asbury College in 1953. When he arrived I was his host and was so excited to be with him that I asked if I could show him around Wilmore. His response was: “thank you young man, I’ve travel to many cities of the world and I think I can find my way around Wilmore.”
    Burrell Dinkins

  2. A couple of things catch my attention this morning: “God guides us in the “here and now.” So, we must pray to find and follow God in the present moment.” This seems so simple, yet it is often difficult to focus on living out those present moments of guidance. And the second thing is the question that Laubach asks: “God, what are you doing in the world today that I can help you with?” What a wonderful way to be intentionally focused on the happenings of the journey for that day.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post and for the opportunity to journey with you!


  3. Brian Russell says:

    The Practice of the Presence of God is the first book that I read when I was appointed to my first church last year. Recommended by a dear retired Nazarene pastor in my congregation who is a blessing to me. There is a free Kindle version on Amazon. It’s a must have.

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