At Christmas we pause to consider Emmanuel—God with us. But, how intentional are we about considering God within us? Years ago, Brother Lawrence introduced a concept that might just alleviate some of the guilt and pressure we inflict upon ourselves at this sacred but hectic time of year. That is, practicing the presence of God. Not merely as a part of our day, but throughout every part of our day.
How would it transform your life if you were to make God part of your every thought, activity and conversation? To wake up every morning asking Him, “What do you want to do today?” “Where do you want to go?” “Who would you like to see?” Then watching and engaging in His agenda as it unfolds! This year, in the days leading up to Christmas, I thought I’d be intentional about doing just that by turning the Twelve Days of Christmas into the Twelve Days of Christmas Presence. I’d invite you to join me.
Below you’ll find several ways to practice God’s presence throughout this season. Don’t be overwhelmed. Take one day at a time and select one of the suggestions under each day. If you have more time or are feeling a little more ambitious on a given day, try some of the other ideas. Together, let’s practice God’s Christmas Presence!
As you begin your twelve days of Christmas presence, what better way than to enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:2-4, KJV). He inhabits the praise of His people (see Psalm 22:3).
Scripture is full of one another’s. Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2, NASB). Encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). Pray for one another (James 5:16). Two are better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20).
Lamentations 3:19-23 says, Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Today, take some intentional time to reflect on where you’ve been on your walk of faith.
God has so much to offer us. Unfortunately, we can’t fully accept it because our hands and hearts are so full of ourselves, our sin, our concerns, and our preoccupation with other things. As you enter into this day pray through Psalm 139:23-24, Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Fasting is a powerful spiritual discipline, especially when it comes to practicing His presence. Not only does fasting increase our awareness of the Lord’s presence, it heightens our spiritual senses as we commit a set time to the Lord for prayer. There are many examples of biblical fasting throughout Scripture (Nehemiah, Esther, Jesus). As you fast, make sure to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Remembering that the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Then taste and see that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8).
Use one of the gifts, talents, or resources that God has given you to bless and encourage someone. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back (Luke 6:38, NLT).
On the seventh day, God rested from His work of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). So in the same way, on this 7th day of practicing His Christmas presence, accept His invitation to enter into that rest. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…for your souls (Matthew 11:28-30). Let the Good Shepherd lead you beside still waters to restore your soul today (Psalm 23:3).
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:15-25). Be aware of following in His steps wherever He leads you. Be mindful of opportunities He puts right on your path. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-11).
He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed (Is. 50:4). Make today an all-day, ongoing conversation between you and the Lord. Put on the coffee and picture the Lord sitting there enjoying it with you.
Jesus is the reason for the season. So today fix your eyes on Him (Hebrews 12:1-4). Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:26-27).
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7). When was the last time you set aside intentional, unhurried time to simply be in God’s presence? Take time today to be still, and know that [He] is God (Psalm 46:10).
We live in a weary, grief-stricken world where loss is especially magnified at Christmas. It can therefore, be challenging to celebrate anything. Invite the Lord into your midst today and find a way to celebrate in whatever form it takes. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” ( Nehemiah 8:10).
In Your presence Lord, there is fullness of joy, comfort, rejoicing, peace, hope, healing, companionship, assurance, refuge, blessing, love, kindness, faithfulness, guidance, wisdom, goodness and mercy that shall follow me all the days of my life, not just at Christmas but throughout the year and for years to come.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:11).
Unless otherwise stated, all verses are quoted from the New International Version.
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org