Personal Worship Lesson 4
By Claudine Lehman
During my quest to KNOW GOD, I had the opportunity to direct a ladies retreat at Maranatha Bible Camp. Our speaker that year was Anne Ortlund who authored many great books including Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman. What she had to say about making God our #1 focus had a tremendous impact on me. Every time I review these, I’m aware of how fast and easy I slip from doing them. But I’m thankful for the reminders to keep on track.
Jesus set the perfect example. He always kept His Father in perfect focus. Let’s look at how he did it.
#1 Practice His Presence—Jesus did.
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me: The words I say to you are not my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:10
Jesus was always aware of His Father’s presence in Him and with Him.
Live your life consciously before Him. Be aware of God—grandly, always and only. King David, with a deliberate act of the will, placed the Lord before him continually. He says in Psalm 16:8: “I have placed the Lord before me continually; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
How did I begin to develop the habit of practicing the presence of God?
- First, I had to quit thinking of God only when I needed something. Practicing God’s presence is not asking for any personal need . . . not praying for an unsaved friend or a church need. With a conscious effort, I attempted to think about God and his character throughout my day. Often during the day I would say, sometimes outloud:
“Lord, You are faithful. God of Love, I love you with all my heart—You are Love. Lord, what is on your heart today? You are aware. You are the Grace Giver. Thank you for your presence—here with me, in me, around me. Always. Forever.”
The kids might be yelling, the phone ringing, my husband might be needing me, but in the midst of the chaos—God. God’s presence makes the distractions of the day bearable—even pleasant—because God is in them all.
- Second, I began to watch for God in everyday living . . . . I purposely used ordinary, daily things to remind me of God’s presence.
- When the phone rang, I would remember the presence of God. I put a sticker near the phone to help me remember and before I picked up the phone, I would pause and say, “Thank you God. You are here.”
- When I looked at a clock or a watch, I would remember He is the God of all Time. He has eternity in His heart. He is changeless and timeless. I am a creature of time. Everything in my life is dependent on time and schedules. The God of Eternity choosed to dwell with me in time.
- When I changed a light bulb, I remembered God is the Light of the World. In Him there is no darkness nor shadow of turning.
- Every time I ran water, I remembered God as the water of life. He cleanses and nourishes. I can’t live without Him.
- At the first sign of light each morning, I’d remember He is a God of new beginnings. His mercy is new every morning. His faithfulness is great.
- With each new day, I’d ask: “God, what is on your mind for me today?” and I’d remember that all things with God are new.
- At a traffic light, I’d remember that God gives warnings—cautions, go-aheads and stops. Am I listening?
All this may seem strange or even childish, but do you remember what God commanded the children of Israel to do to practice His presence?
“The Lord said to Moses, speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.” Numbers 15:37
“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as a symbol on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-8
God knows we need visual reminders of His presence. For many years, I kept a blue tassel a friend made me hanging from a knob on my kitchen cupboards. Each day it would remind me I was serving before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My kitchen sink became an altar of worship.
Be conscious, aware of God’s mercies, His Goodness and lovingkindness. Journal your thoughts—write them down. King David did, and we have the Psalms. Your thoughts are just as precious and important to God as David’s.
This discipline of practicing God’s presence may not be easy at first, but as Brother Lawrence reminds us, it “has a marvelous effect on the soul when faithfully practiced.” He goes on to say, “We have to know someone before we can truly love them. In order to know God, we must think about Him often. And once we get to know Him, we will think about Him even more often, because where our treasure is, there also is our heart!”
#2 Jealously Guard your daily time alone with God—Jesus did.
“Jesus habitually withdrew into the desert for communion with God.” Luke 5:15
Jesus always found the time and place to be alone with his God BEFORE he was with people. Jesus put God before people.
What is the goal of your time alone with God? Jesus’ aim was to commune with his Father. This was his time to draw near to his Father’s heart to be renewed, refreshed, instructed, and blessed.
My aim during each quiet time is to study—investigate—meditate on the character of God. As you are learning His character, you will receive all the answers you need to live a God-pleasing life.
For instance, when I first started studying God’s character, I didn’t know much about unconditional love. Once I began to study His heart of love, I began to learn how to love people the way He does.
The more I learn about God’s patience—his longsuffering and forbearance—the more I am able to practice patience in my own life.
When I’ve been wronged and need to forgive, I can spend time reading about God’s forgiving heart. Seeing His willingness to forgive wrongs far greater than mine enables me to give up resentment and the desire for revenge.
There is no area of life where knowing the character of God will not give us solutions to our problems. Soon we will discover that to know God is more important than to know our problems.
#3 Seek longer periods of time with Him—Jesus did.
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spend the night praying (fellowshipping, communing) to God.” Luke 6:12
Characteristically, Jesus spent the night in prayer before the important work of the next day. All. Night. How long is that? Typically six to eight hours. You may wonder what you would do for that length of time. In essence, you simply do more of what you do in your regular quiet times. You worship more, read more, sing more. You rest, take a walk, evaluate your calendar to see what is crowding Him out. You ask God to give you purposes, goals and schedules that are pleasing to Him.
You could meditate on ways to be a godly wife, mother, friend, and sister in the Lord. Evaluate yourself, your work, your days. These longer periods give you unhurried times to think, meditate and chew on God’s Word.
But how do you do this? It doesn’t happen naturally. You have to plan it into your calendar, like a shopping trip or afternoon at the movies. You might want to team up with a girl friend who is also going hard after God who can hold you accountable. If you both have young children, you could share babysitting. The key is to get out of the house—go to the library or a park. Just one hour alone in the car by a lake may be all you can manage for now. It’s a good place to start.
In those early days, Curt and I had some friends who lived on an acreage. They both worked in Lincoln and were happy to let us use their home during the day. We would drive out into the country at about 9 or 10 in the morning and spend the day with the sole intent of spending time with God. Curt would stay upstairs and I’d go to the family room in the basement. If the weather permitted, I’d walk outside, praying and praising.
These get-a-ways were harder when we had 5 kids at home, but when I disciplined myself to do it in some little way, the reward was great. No matter how long of a time I was allotted, I always got out of my home, took my Bible, journal, calendar and one good book to aid in worship. My sole purpose of any of these outings was to commune with God . . . to listen.
#4 Be diligent in public worship—Jesus was.
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to preach.” Luke 4:16
Jesus had a custom of regular worship. This sets an example for all of his followers. Why did he attend the synagogue? Certainly not for what he could get out of it. What new things could He possibly learn? Jesus went because He pleased the Father in all things.
Hebrews 10:25 says “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another . . . and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Also in Acts 2:42 we read: “They devoted themselves to the teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In other words, they devoted themselves to the corporate fellowship of believers in worship.
We go to church because God wants us to be there. It give Him pleasure.
Sometimes I don’t feel like going. I’m tired. The people and their words distract me. The speaker is boring, or I don’t like the music. But I’m not there because of my feelings or others people’s actions or reactions.
I’m there because it gives God pleasure. He’s delighted to have the family together. I’m there out of obedience to Him. And in the process, I open my heart and mind to many opportunities to give and to receive, to be filled and blessed, to be reproved, corrected, to be encouraged and to give encouragement.
It’s all part of being in the family of God.
And so I continue to work on making God my #1 focus by
- practicing His presence
- guarding my daily time with Him
- seeking longer periods to commune with Him
- being diligent to meet with the family of God
My sole purpose in all of this is to KNOW HIM.
“Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord: for as certain as the break of dawn He comes to us; He will come to us like winter rain, as the spring showers that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3
Claudine mentioned several ways she chose to make God a part of her “dailies.” What are some practical ways you can think of to practice the presence of God in your daily routines?
Let’s take another week to focus on a Psalm of your choice. Remember to ask these questions as you read: Who is God? What does He do? What pleases Him? Displeases Him?
If you don’t have one already, create a Worship Journal in which you write down your thoughts. Record what God says to you. Don’t be concerned about complete sentences, beautiful handwriting or neat outlining. Just write. You and God know all the thoughts behind all you have written. Re-read, rehearse your journaling about the character of God. Interruptions will come, but if you are writing, you can always pick up again where you left off. There is no such thing as “being done” knowing about God.