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Stay Present in an Increasingly Distracted World with this 1 Practice

The pale, pinky-orange, brush-stroked hues gave way to soft white and blues as I walked in the cool, crispness of the spring morning. Feeling my soul dammed this past year, I sensed a trickle emerging from the spillage way as this season slowly melds with the next. 

Hoping for life to return to normal after bottoming out is a fallacy only promised in catchy phrases by clever influencers. 

Walking the shoreline in the morning light, I gained clarity through reflection. 

Life on the water offers a slower pace, beckoning me to savor its sweetness by remaining present. But, slowing can lend itself to a wandering mind. Life’s chaotic, distracted momentum claims my mind even in quiet moments. My mind races while everything around me has slowed down. 

In this normalized, frantic, societal pace, clarity is obscured by mountains of exhaustion, valleys of worry, and the dark, quiet ache in my soul.

Remaining present to enjoy the quiet, peaceful moments eludes me. The moments are sweet and the sunsets stunning, but I miss the glory of God’s paintbrush if I stay in the past or hasten to the future. 

I must stay in the moment, tending to the simple joys and listening for God’s ever-present voice.

Something I’ve learned this past year:

Clarity will not come from a cup of coffee, an energy drink, a pro/con list, or constant rumination. It comes from the small spaces deep within. 

  • The quiet knowing
  • The silent prayer
  • The solace of a walk
  • The soul-piercing Scripture 

Being present in today’s fast-paced culture seems impossible. Asking myself why, I realized I must cultivate the quiet. Seize the stillness.  

I will never stumble upon stillness, or run into the silence. I must seek it out intentionally.

One of the ways God has grown me in this area is through a devotional book my Mom gave me a few years ago. 

40 Days to a Closer Walk with God: The Practice of Centering Prayer

I completed it with my older daughter and Mom last spring during Lent. Getting so much out of it, I asked my Ladies’ group to go through it last fall. I’m at it again this spring. 

Completing Day 39 recently, I’m reminded, “In contemplative prayer, we acknowledge the nearness of the Kingdom of God.”

In staying present to what God is doing now, I welcome God’s Kingdom today.

“The present is where we live, where God is, and the only place we can experience the joy of life.” 

When practicing centering prayer, a form of contemplative prayer, I’m drawing near to the loving presence of God through a word or phrase. 

Peace, love, Jesus, mercy, grace, abide, presence, welcome

God has brought these words to mind while practicing a few moments of silence. I set a timer to keep myself focused—5 minutes.  

When my thoughts run amuck, which is inevitable, I return to the word, centering myself again on God. 

Here, I enter into the “compassion of God,” transformed by His loving presence. 

Sometimes I hear nothing and trust the Spirit is working in ways I cannot feel. Other times I sense His voice or receive intuition, a direction. 

holiday stress, present

Realizing God’s presence with me, I release my loved ones and the world to His care and “leave God to act in everything, reserving for (myself) only love and obedience to the present moment.”

When anxiety rises, I can remember, “God is not absent. The triune God is always with us and at work in every moment. (It’s the) fog of anxiety and attachment obscuring our view.”

On this journey of centering prayer, I’ve discovered the beauty of God’s presence, understanding there’s no ritual or formula to encounter my King. 

My job is to draw near to Him, and He promises to draw near to me. It’s His nearness bringing His peace and clarity. 

One of the fruits of Centering Prayer is clearer perception: seeing God’s presence in the people and situations we encounter. We begin to see with the eyes of God…We see the goodness and activity of God with greater clarity.”

From the silence, my prayer arises out of God’s love. With consent to the presence and action of God, I can intercede for others…I become an agent of God’s grace, acknowledging the nearness of God’s Kingdom. 

Contemplation helps us see with sharper focus the needs of humanity. We realize our blessings are invitations to participate in God’s work by relieving the pain of others. We do our part in making the world a community of justice and peace.

Is there a step you can take this week to draw near to God in solitude? Try putting aside distractions, focusing on God’s loving presence, and see how His nearness transforms you. He promises it will. It will be for your good, and the good of others as you share the gifts you receive in the quiet of His presence.

Quotes by J. David Muyskens

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