God has encountered you many times, in many ways and places; and though you did not always recognize the Divine Presence, God has certainly been present in your life. Every breath, every step, and every relationship is imbued with the Spirit of God whether you recognize it or not. Your connection with God goes two ways: you reach out to God, only to discover that God has been reaching out to you for a much longer time.

- Ben Campbell Johnson and Paul H. Lang
Time Away: A Guide for Personal Retreat

Copyright © 2010 by Ben C. Johnson and Paul H. Lang. Published by The Upper Room.
Attentiveness to God’s Presence

Waking up to the movement of the Spirit in our world and in our faith communities happens when we decide to look at the world with eyes wide open. As spiritual leaders, we know there is much work to be done. We feel the pull of myriad people and circumstances calling for our attention. 

At The Upper Room Center we see the journey of spiritual leaders as a deeper integration between the outer work of tasks and to-do lists and the inner work of spiritual formation and creativity. When we attend to inner work we begin to open our eyes to the presence of the Christ walking alongside us and alongside those with whom we are called to be in ministry. We experience God’s presence and we discover an intention to create the space and time to attend to God's presence. May we cultivate a deeper sense of God’s presence in all aspects of life as Christ moves among us and in us.
Spiritual Exercise - Presence

Jesus went up on a mountain and called those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve and called them apostles. He appointed them to be with him, to be sent out to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons. 
-Mark 3:13-15, Common English Bible

Having heard Jesus’ call, they came into his presence and began a personal relationship with him.

Imagine these disciples’ experiences — of hearing Jesus and coming to him, of entering his presence and being received into his life. How — with what action, question, or blessing — do you imagine Jesus would welcome them into his life and mission? 

Reflect on your story: Through what experiences or relationships did you come to know Christ’s welcoming presence and accepting love? In what ways do you stay aware of Christ’s presence and promptings today?

Reflect on your faith community: Where in your community do people come to know God’s welcoming, accepting grace, and their belovedness? How do you invite people, in response, to come into Christ’s presence, as these disciples did, and to accept the relationship being offered?

Be still for a few moments in God’s presence. Share in prayer any memories or feelings that have surfaced. Give thanks for the grace you’ve experienced through this exercise.
Tending Your Soul:
Soaking Prayer

What Is Soaking Prayer?
A soaking prayer is a way to simply rest in God’s love. When using soaking prayer, it is not a time for intensive intercessory prayer or Bible study. Lay aside all of that for another day. Find a place to rest and relax—a comfortable chair, a hammock, a bed, or on the ground. Playing peaceful worship music may help you to quiet your soul and to bring your heart closer to God.

Try Soaking Prayer
Be aware of the warmth of God’s love surrounding you. Imagine yourself in a refreshing pool of water or lying on the beach with ocean waves washing over you. Or visualize a tree gently swaying in the breeze. Allow yourself to slowly rock from side to side, as if you were being cradled.

Or lie still and let God’s light seep gently into every part of your body, as water soaks into a sponge. Recognize that it is God’s presence that fills your entire being. Experiencing God's presence helps us to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul.

Soaking prayer can last as long as you need, from fifteen minutes to an hour or more. If you are feeling exhausted or ill, let this be your only form of prayer for a while.

This exercise and others for your spiritual pilgrimage may be found in our website's resource area
Resources for Soul Care

Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship
by Trevor Hudson

“There is a friend-shaped hole in all of our lives,” Trevor Hudson writes. People long for relationship with others, but what may surprise them is that God actually longs to be friends with them. Having a close friendship with God is the only thing that will ultimately bring joy and happiness and ease the ache of loneliness. In Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship, Hudson provides guidance for building a friendship with God. Exercises for reflection and action are included at the end of each chapter. Learn more.

Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings

by Beth A. Richardson

In her book, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me, author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Through Beth’s written blessings and stories, we’re invited to live into a regular practice of gratitude and noticing—practices that encourage us to be aware of the presence of God all around us. Learn more.

Next week -- Developing regular spiritual practice

The Upper Room Center for Christian Spiritual Formation
The Upper Room
P.O. Box 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

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