A classic Christian book on spirituality is The Practice of the Presence of God, which is a book of collected teachings of Brother Lawrence (born Nicholas Herman), a 17th-century Carmelite monk. The basic theme of the book is the development of an awareness of the presence of God in daily life.
More recently, pastor and theologian Gregory Boyd has written a very helpful book entitleded Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now. He looks at and builds on the work of three authors on this topic: Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Causade and Frank Laubach. An appendix includes a helpful outline of the difference between Christian meditation and the teaching of the New Age as promoted by teachers such as Eckhart Tolle.
Here are a few helpful quotes:
- Don’t try to feel God's presence. In fact, don’t try to do anything at all. Simply be mindful of the fact that you are, in this present moment, submerged in the ocean of God’s perfect love.
- I realized that my trivial, self-centered mental chatter about the past and future—like a dark cloud blocking the sun—had kept me from seeing the glory of God that surrounded me every second of every day.
- Our focus determines what we experience—and do not experience—in any given moment.
- The present moment is all that is real. The past is gone. The future is not yet. We remember the past and anticipate the future, but we always do so in the present. Reality is always now. And the single most important aspect of reality is that God is present in it every moment. To forget that God is present in any given moment is to forget the most important aspect of that moment.
- I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus.
- Remaining awake to God’s presence in the present moment is the single most important task of the Christian life and that no spiritual discipline is more foundational or transforming than this one.
- The simple practice of remaining aware of God’s presence each moment brings me to the point toward which all other disciplines aspire. It is, I’m convinced, the bedrock of a vibrant relationship with God and the key to transformation into the likeness of Christ.
- The challenge is not in doing the discipline: it’s in remembering the discipline.
- Exercises that were indispensable at one stage of life may become irrelevant at a different stage, while exercises that didn’t seem to evoke much change earlier in life may suddenly take on new significance and power at a later stage of life.
- Embrace the core discipline of practicing the presence of God as the central goal of your life. As multitudes throughout history can testify, no other single discipline has the power to revolutionize how we experience life moment-by-moment as the largely forgotten and profoundly simple discipline of remembering God exists, right here and right now. God is now.
Boyd's book includes some excellent practical exercises for learning to be more aware of God and awake to his activity in our daily lives. I highly recommend it.