What does it really mean to “acknowledge God’s presence”? And why does it matter so much? Check out Pastor Craig Groeschel’s advice from his new book, Winning the War in Your Mind, to find out.
Why is being mindful of God’s presence so critical?
What I’m about to tell you may seem offensively simple, but it’s indescribably important. Are you ready? Don’t miss this.
If you forget God is there, you won’t talk to him.
Simple, right? (I warned you.) But it’s true. When we don’t focus on God’s presence, we don’t pray. Instead we go it alone. We find our thoughts moving in the wrong direction, and our lives quickly follow.
But when we realize God is there, we realize we can talk to him. When things are bad, instead of just feeling down, we look up. We look up and find a God who loves us and has the power to help. We need to practice God’s presence—habitually reminding ourselves that God is with us—so we’ll be persistent in prayer.
Remember Paul’s prescription for panic-inducing circumstances?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV
Let this game-changing truth sink in:
- If it’s big enough to worry about, then it’s big enough to pray about.
- If it’s on your mind, then it’s on God’s heart.
If you’re starting to experience some runaway negative thoughts—you’re worried about your upcoming doctor’s appointment, you don’t know what decision to make, you’re concerned about how your kid is doing in school, you feel like you’re never going to find someone you want to marry—pray.
Something I’ve learned from years of being a pastor is that a lot of people aren’t sure how to pray.
- Do I address God as my omnipotent Creator?
- Is praying in King James language mandatory?
- Do I have to sign off with the whole “In Jesus’ name” part?
- Is the word harken required? I hope not, because I’m not sure I know what harken means.
The answer to these is a no. In the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, Jesus called God Abba, the Aramaic word for father. Abba was the most simple, endearing way to refer to a father back then. Our equivalent might be Daddy or Papa. God is a relational God who loves you and wants to have an intimate relationship with you. You can call him Abba Father, the way Jesus did.
Paul wrote, “Present your requests to God,” which may sound a little formal, but it’s not. Another way of translating Paul’s words is, “Let your needs be known.” When you’ve had enough and your problems are tempting you to panic, how should you pray? Just let your needs be known.
I have six kids. I love them. I’m their abba, their daddy, Papa. My six kids have six different personalities, and they each let their needs be known in their own unique way.
My oldest daughter, Catie, lets her needs be known through texts. Her texts are loving but short, direct, and to the point.
My second oldest, Mandy, does not text; she calls. She’s a talker. My average call with Mandy lasts about forty-three minutes. I’ve gone from being clean-shaven to having a sweet hipster beard in some of our epic conversations.
Anna makes formal presentations. She presents data and flip charts. I often feel unprepared and underdressed for our boardroom conversations.
My son Sam waits until at least ten thirty at night. He shows up in our bedroom to talk, and his requests take a long time.
Stephen is our little attorney. He’s smarter than anyone in the room. When he’s asking, he’s already got his defense prepared for any objections I might make. He’s always three moves ahead of me.
My youngest, Joy, will ask, text, call, come into the room, sing, beg. She never surrenders and always gets what she wants, because she’s the baby of the family. She is also everyone’s favorite. Just ask her and she’ll tell you.
Each of my kids is creative in how he or she asks, because they are not trying to do it “the right way”; they’re just being themselves. God doesn’t want you to do it “the right way” either. He wants you to be yourself, just like he made you. Let your needs be known in the way that feels right to you. Pray your way.
You might talk your prayers, yell your prayers, sing or journal them. You might pray long or you might pray short; just make sure you pray. There is no perfect way. Just pray.
P.S. Order Pastor Craig’s new book here.