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Centering Prayer

Written By Nikki Dieker

I was in a meeting some time ago and someone mentioned the song “Centering Prayer” by The Porter’s Gate. I was intrigued, listened to it on my way home, and was hooked. Something about it just hits me right in the gut. The lyrics begin with “I want to be where my feet are. I want to breathe the life around me.” Such simple words to describe a beautiful concept, and so much in me shouts “YES!” I want to be in each moment, to actually experience my life, live it in the here and now. So much in me shouts “YES!” and so much in me just struggles mightily against this. So much of me is pulled to anywhere else but right here and right now.

 

Present in the Moment

Anyone with a cell phone knows this! Have you ever tried to not pull out your phone when waiting in line? Just stand there and be a person that is waiting in line, not a person that is checking email or texting or scrolling endlessly through Instagram or your app of choice. Phones are constantly pulling us out of our bodies and turning us into people with limited attention spans and limited capacities for boredom and creativity.

I am a worrier, so even if I manage not to pull out my phone the minute there is a space in my day, my brain is constantly pulling me to the future. What if this happens? Or what if that happens? Have I thought through all the contingency plans? I believe God created me with this forward looking tendency, and it’s a gift I can use for planning and anticipating future problems. But if left unchecked, it becomes unhealthy to always live outside of the here and now.

Maybe you are like me, and a space to think and be quiet is a space to be far from the present moment and off in the future. Or maybe you are wired to be pulled back to the past when you have a quiet moment to relive your glory days. Or do you rehash difficult seasons in your mind, wondering what you could have done or said differently?

I wonder how many of us are gifted with the ability to be present in the moment.

 

Where God is Working

It isn’t that difficult for me to think about God moving and working in the past. In Malachi and in Hebrews, we are told that God is unchanging; he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He created everything with just his word; he is the God who saw Hagar, who parted the Red Sea, and who powerfully defeated Israel’s enemies. He came to earth as a baby, sinlessly walked among his creation, and was punished for our sins. Even in my own life, with some time and perspective, I can often, not always, but often, look back and see how God has been moving and working in my life.

And it isn’t that difficult for me to think about God moving in the future…at least the distant future. I cling to Revelation 21! One day, our God will make all the sad things untrue in the new heavens and the new earth, and he will once again be with us in some sort of physical sense and there will be no more weeping or pain or death.

But it’s hard for me to see him as the God of right now. To see God with me in the traffic, the school pick-up line, and the making of dinner. To see God in the mundane when so much of my life is just so ordinary. I am a middle-aged mom. I am in bed by 9. I suspect many of us feel like our lives are so normal and plain that it feels a little crazy that the God of the universe would want to be with us in the here and now. Sometimes life is just so difficult that it’s hard to see God, and sometimes things are going so well that we forget about him, but often life just feels unremarkable.

As I began writing this, I took a little time to sit in Romans 8:38-39.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It even says “things present” cannot separate us from his great love for us. My ordinary life, the seemingly averageness of the present moment cannot separate me from his love.

What if we deeply believed that each moment we are being loved by God, by the one who created all and holds it all together? That he is with us. Right now. The God who will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes is with us in each moment, even the mundane, longing for us to know his love for us.

 

God’s Presence Every Day

At a Christ Community staff meeting we were challenged to think about the time in our day when we feel the most lonely, stressed, or feel God is not present. This was such a helpful exercise for me, so I challenge you to do the same. Think through your day, and consider when you most often feel alone, or that God is distant. Then imagine God there with you, loving you, delighted with your presence. What is that like? If you take the time to write down how it feels, like a prayer or a liturgy, you will have something to revisit as a reminder when you are in those spaces of “aloneness”.

I often turn to the song “Centering Prayer” as a liturgical element when I need a reminder of God’s presence with me. It ends with repeating the line “I wanna be where my feet are,” followed by “the ground below me is how you hold me.” I love that feeling and the imagery that God uses gravity to hold me close. I pray that we can learn to stop and be where our feet are. That we can be fully present in our bodies in the moment and know that we are fully and completely loved by our God.

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