Sometimes this world is full of noise. Who can shout the loudest? Who can make their point the clearest? Who can prove that their version of faith is the right one? We over complicate the simplest of things and when it comes to faith we try to work out a formula for it that can sometimes be about getting God to do what we want Him to. The truth is, for me, that the more I see of Him the less I understand but the more I am in awe of the wonderful mystery of who He is.
I figure that we would be best to simplify things from time to time; to rest in His presence and learn to understand how to adore Him in the most intricate and everyday details of our lives. We need to understand how to practice the presence of God everyday, as we would practice medicine if we were a doctor or a nurse.
This concept is unpacked in the beautiful writings of Brother Lawrence in his book The Practice of the Presence of God. What this man saw is beyond me. His relationship with Jesus is simple but strong and so powerful.
This quote is one way to simplify how we adore God but at the same time take our relationship with Him into new depths where our ability to adore Him runs through our bloodstream, like our very breath adores Him and our minds are set to ‘adore’:
“A little lifting up of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, an interior act of adoration, even though made on the march and with sword in hand, are prayers which, short though they may be, are nevertheless very pleasing to God, and far from making a soldier lose his courage on the most dangerous occasions, bolster it. Let him then think of God as much as possible so that he will gradually become accustomed to this little but holy exercise; no one will notice it and nothing is easier than to repeat often during the day these little acts of interior adoration.”
When no one is looking: lift you heart to Him. When you are going about your day: remember Him, as you would a loved one that you are longing to get home to. These ‘interior acts of adoration’ will bring strength, depth and power to your relationship with God. If something is ‘interior’ it is inside of us, not visible to others. These interior acts are about our thoughts. The effects of these things in the long term might be visible to others, but that is not the point, the point is that the motive of these acts are not for others to see, they are just for Jesus.
I find it refreshing that he tackles the idea of being ‘on the march and sword in hand’ in this way. When we are in battle we tend to think that we need to be shouting out prayers, making noise to motivate us and promote faith. Sometimes this is true, but I am learning to understand faith as a quiet confidence that God is going before us. Our little thought prayers are just as powerful. If we can tame our thoughts so much that we don’t have to convince them with ‘shouting’, this quiet confidence brings real courage; deep courage that is already convinced of who God is rather than a feeling that, if we declare or shout things, God might be more likely to hear. God is not so far away that He can’t hear unless we shout. He is in fact so close that even our innermost thoughts can be heard by Him.
We must also be careful that we don’t mistake passion and noise. Sometimes passion is an ache that can’t be heard. Passion is powerful and compelling, driven by emotion and, in this case, love. Sometimes we love loudly and that is good, but we don’t have to. Adoration doesn’t have to be loud, it can be quiet and contemplative. It is a gaze, a moment of dwelling on our thoughts of Jesus. There is nothing superficial or manufactured about it. This passion is strong and deep.
Jeanne Guyon, a 17th century catholic mystic, says this:
Some persons, when they hear the ‘prayer of quiet’, falsely imagine the soul remains stupid, dead and inactive. But unquestionably it acteth therein, more nobly and more extensively than it had ever done before, for God Himself is the Mover and the soul now acteth by the agency of His Spirit… instead then of promoting idleness, we promote the highest activity, by inculcating a total dependence on the Spirit of God as our moving principle, for in Him we live and move and have our being…Our activity should therefore consist in endeavouring to acquire and maintain such a state as may be most susceptible to divine impression, most flexible to all the operations of the eternal word.
In other words our quietness can promote the highest level of activity because God moves our soul into action by the power of His Spirit stirring our passion and this instills a total dependence on the Holy Spirit as we seek to adore Him. If we look to our inner health and enter the quiet we become ‘susceptible to divine impression’.
Oh that God would imprint His heart onto mine and that His word would shape me and change me!
Another thing that occurred to me is that if we think of ‘interior design’ it is all about what our rooms look like inside our homes or buildings. We think about fabrics, wall coverings, ornaments. We think about what things will work together to make our ‘interior’ look beautiful. Often it doesn’t take much to just add those touches to a room that make it work. Maybe we need to add some touches to our interior: those thoughts of Jesus, thought- prayers of thanksgiving, those internal gazes and moments of remembering Him in the quiet. Just to think on Him for a few seconds is making our ‘interior’ better. When we think on Him we encounter Him and he touches us and leaves His ‘divine impression’.
Brother Lawrence says this:
“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
The fact is God is not making demands on our time. He deserves our attention but it’s our choice to adore Him, He is not forcing us. And as we choose to gaze on Him, we can’t help but fall in love with Him. When we thank Him for our food at meal times He is pleased by it and, if we think in human terms, He feels our love from even ‘the least little remembrance’.
So every day remember Him. Remember Him until your thoughts are quietly dominated by your adoration of Him. Think on Him often. As you go to work remember Him, in your lunch break remember Him and gaze on Him from time to time. No-one but God will know, and how good it is to please Him.
What beauty is noticed, what courage is given, what rest is found in our little acts of interior adoration.