We are looking to find the presence of God in our inmost being, to experience him and commune with him there. By tapping into his actual presence within us, we are able to receive the strength that prevails. It begins with simply giving him your attention. As Theophan the Recluse instructed, “One must descend with the mind into the heart, and there stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.” (The Art of Prayer)
This is one of those quotes that sounds all profound and spiritual ... but we don’t really know what he’s talking about. It seems beyond our experience, but I don’t think it needs to be. The key idea here is the descending part. We learn to drop down into the presence of God within us, tap into his strength there.
When Theophan instructed us to “descend with the mind into the heart,” I think by our “mind” he was referring to our conscious attention, and by “heart” he meant our inmost being, the Depths.
The psalmist cried out to God from his innermost being; he then gave the fullness of his attention to God:
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy. ...
I wait for the lord, my whole being waits ...
I wait for the lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
(Psalm 130:1–2, 5–6)
We set aside a time to give God our undivided attention (the battle is always for your attention). The new thought is that we are giving our attention to God-who-lives-within-us. As we tune out the world around us and tune in to our hearts, we become aware of the presence of Jesus-within-us. Take the experience of being comforted by God. Most of the time, nearly all of the time, that comfort is something we experience within. It might be facilitated by a comforting word or a passage of Scripture, but the comfort itself is taking place within us. There you go—you are tuning in to the work of God within you.
Finding God always begins with loving him.
As we commune with God’s presence within us, we are able to receive the strength that prevails. His glorious resilience is always available to us. Simply lingering in the presence of Jesus-within-us strengthens us. The communion is the point. Remember, just because these are supernatural graces doesn’t mean they are dramatic. Don’t look for fireworks and explosions. God is gentle. Receiving his love and strength is often a gentle experience.
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