I really want to learn to be “fully present to the present.” I think the first time I heard that phrase was from the lips of someone who has suffered more than most. I had often noticed a far away look in their eyes almost as though they were focussing on something other than the moment, and when I remarked on what I noticed they said, “Yes, I find it hard to be present to the present.” The events of the past drew their attention and their energies almost with magnetic power. Sometimes it is not the past but the future that can draw us away from the present, either future dreams, hopes or fears about what may or may not happen. I have often mentioned Henri Nouwen in these blogs. He makes the observation that whenever we lose our way in a time of prayer it is usually because our minds have gone on to something in the past or something in the future and away from God in the present moment.
I simply want to ask you, “Is God with you right now?” Well, of course He is. Through Christ He has made a promise of His presence being with us always even to the end of the age. If we really believe that however, we would be more present to God in the present and probably think a lot less than we do about the past or the future. Henri Nouwen puts it like this in his small book, “ A Spirituality of Homecoming: “The art of spiritual living is to pay attention to the breathing of the Spirit right where we are and to trust the Spirit is breathing new life in us now.The beauty of the spiritual life is that we can be where we are. We don’t need to be anywhere else. We are already home. So let’s be there…. Prayer is being with God in the present.” (pages 54 and 55.)
I realised not long ago that I had lost something of the felt peace and presence of God. I saw clearly one day that had come about because perhaps understandably my mind was living a lot in the future in anticipation of changes and uncertainties that stepping back from parish ministry will bring about. When I refocused on God in the present moment, felt peace and presence were restored almost instantaneously.
I fully understand why the past and the future can have amazing mesmeric hold over us. I pray that God may break that power if that is what you are experiencing and that you may be fully present to God in the present moment.
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whenever we lose our way in a time of prayer it is usually because our minds have gone on to something in the past or something in the future and away from God in the present moment.