Why and How to Practice the Presence of God

“Consider that thou art always beheld from Heaven by God, and that thine actions are everywhere seen by the eye of the Divine Majesty, and are every hour reported to Him by His angels.” (Chapter 7, Rule of St. Benedict)

With the close of the Octave of Pentecost, we now enter the long stretch of time in the Liturgical Year known as the Time after Pentecost.[1] This time will last until the First Sunday of Advent. And while we will celebrate important feast days during this liturgical season (e.g., Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart, Assumption of Our Lady, Immaculate Heart, Nativity of Our Lady, Christ the King, All Saints Day, and more), this stretch of time can seem more mundane than the previous two cycles – the Christmas Cycle and the Easter Cycle (which includes the penitential time of Lent).

However, rather than being mundane, we can use this time to truly practice the Presence of God as a daily devotion and thus persist in growing in sanctity during these months until Advent. Along with the daily Rosary, this devotion is one that can aid us all year long. And if you are not familiar with this devotion, now is an ideal time to start.

What Is the Practice of the Presence of God?

The practice of the Presence of God is a spiritual exercise that was promoted by a 17th century Carmelite friar named Brother Lawrence. It refers to the ongoing awareness and conscious acknowledgment of God’s Presence in one’s life, regardless of the activity or circumstance. This devotion is highlighted in the book, The Practice of the Presence of God, compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort.

According to Brother Lawrence, the practice of the Presence of God involves cultivating a continuous sense of God’s nearness and seeking to remain in a state of communion with Him throughout the day. It is about developing a deep and intimate relationship with God, where every moment is lived in His Presence. Since God sees all things, He is watching you at all times. All sins that you commit, He sees immediately (be they in thought, word, act, or omission). Likewise all the good works you do and all the prayers you offer are seen. You are always in the gaze of Almighty God.

Brother Lawrence emphasized the importance of incorporating this awareness into everyday activities, including both mundane tasks and spiritual practices. He believed that one could experience a profound union with God in the midst of ordinary life, such as while washing dishes, changing the car’s oil, studying, teaching, driving, or performing any other task. He saw these activities as opportunities to connect with God and offer them as acts of love and devotion.

Why Practice the Presence of God?

By intentionally practicing the Presence of God, we can become more mindful and aware of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. This will help us to avoid mortal sin and, when faced with multiple choices, to choose whatever is the most conducive to our sanctification. Even when we are not choosing between a sin and something good, the practice of the Presence of God can help us consciously choose the more perfect good when we really understand that God is watching us and sees at that moment our activity. Since He is a loving Father, why would we seek to displease Him?

Seeking God’s Presence and acknowledging His involvement in daily life opens the door to receiving guidance and wisdom. When we know that God is always watching us and ready to help, we can more often call on the help of the Holy Ghost to inspire us and help us in our day-to-day challenges, no matter how mundane they are.

When we practice the Presence of God, even ordinary tasks and routines can take on a deeper meaning. All we have to do is offer them up to God; and if we are more aware of His constant gaze, we are more inclined to offer them up. And likewise, we are more inclined to do work to save other souls. In a world where all created things will come to an end one day, we know that human souls will live forever. This makes us understand just how important things of eternity are and, comparatively, how unimportant all secular pursuits are.

Prayer to Practice the Presence of God

“O my God, my firm belief is, that Thine eyes are fixed on me at this moment. The angels are now trembling before Thee, and can I, a poor nothing, presume to appear in Thy holy Presence? Pardon my sins and unworthiness, and enable me to invoke Thee, the best of fathers. O Divine Spirit of love, of light and of life, enliven me in my devotions; enlighten my mind with Thy heavenly rays; inflame my will with the fire of Thy divine love. Dwell within my heart, O Lord, and fill me with Thy Presence.”

Source: The Glories of the Catholic Church (19th-century devotional work)


[1] For a guide to living a Catholic liturgical life, see https://fatima.org/living-a-liturgical-life/living-a-liturgical-life-the-sacredness-of-time/