12 Days of Christmas Presence
By Lisa Elliott
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!
On the 1st Day of Christmas Praise in His 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).
- Throughout your day, play worship music; whether in your home or in your car, on your phone or out for a walk.
- Create your own worship playlist on Spotify.
- Make a list of things you’re thankful for.
- Take some time to meditate on the many names of God throughout Scripture and praise Him for who He is to you.
On the 2nd Day of Christmas Gather in His Presence
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).
- Call a God-friend today. Spend a time of prayer together.
- Meet someone for coffee. Take turns answering the question, “What’s the Lord doing in your life?”
- Gather together with a group of friends for a time of sharing and fellowship.
On the 3rd Day of Christmas Reflect in His Presence
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.
- Make a timeline of your faith journey.
- How have you experienced God’s faithfulness throughout your life?
- At what points did you experience God’s presence more than others?
- What was it about those moments that made you aware of His presence with you?
- How are you seeing evidence of His work and faithfulness in your life today?
On the 4th Day of Christmas Cleanse in His Presence
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.
- Take a deep breath and as you do, picture yourself breathing in the fresh mercies of God; His peace, His love, His goodness, and His grace. Then as you exhale picture all your worries, cares, concerns, fears, negative thoughts and bad attitudes or emotions being released to Him. Out with the bad and in with the good! Practice this several times today.
- Clean your house today—top to bottom. Pray, Create in me a clean heart, O, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). As you clean your physical house, picture the aspects of your life that each room represents and ask the Lord to cleanse you from within.
- Read My Heart, Christ’s Home by Charles E. Hummel.
On the 5th Day of Christmas Fast in His Presence
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).
- Give up a meal or two (or three) today.
- Use your mealtime to spend time with the Lord.
- Try a media fast; refraining from any social media, your tablet, television, Facebook, computer etc. Use the time you’ve freed up to go for a walk or read God’s Word or a devotional.
On the 6th Day of Christmas Bless in His Presence
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).
- Turn your thoughts toward a person into a prayer project or an encouragement note, email or text.
- Be Jesus to someone through an act of service. For example, offer to blow someone’s snow or provide babysitting.
- Bake or provide a meal to someone in crisis, a new mom, a new neighbor, a shut-in or to a nearby hospital for those who are unable to be home for Christmas.
On the 7th Day of Christmas Rest in His Presence
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).
- Have a mid-day bubble bath.
- Read a book you’ve been neglecting.
- Take a nap.
- Treat yourself to a spa day or some sort of strategic retreat.
On the 8th Day of Christmas Walk in His Presence
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).
- Go for a walk with Jesus today.
- Venture out on a prayer walk around your neighbourhood.
- Engage in meaningful conversation with someone you encounter today: a co-worker, a cashier, a health professional, a stranger at a crosswalk. Be conscious that you’re carrying the Lord’s presence with you.
On the 9th Day of Christmas Listen in His Presence
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.
- Listen to what’s going on around you and take good notes; whether it’s in His Word, in conversation, in a song, or purely the sound of His creation.
- Be aware of His promptings. For example, He could prompt you to pray for, or write to, or visit someone.
- Engage in God’s Word as you read it today. Read a passage of Scripture until something strikes you. Ask yourself if it’s a challenge, encouragement, command, action, blessing, exhortation (2 Timothy 3:16). Respond to what stands out to you. Then continue reading in the previous manner.
On the 10th Day of Christmas Focus on His Presence
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).
- Take some time to de-clutter your space and remove distractions; piles that overwhelm you or beg for your attention simply because they’re in your face or space.
- Write a “worry list” or a “to-do” list as you spend time in God’s Word today. No doubt things will enter your mind to obstruct your view. Onto paper—out of mind.
- Consider listing all your “to-not-do’s” to free your mental space up.
- Write out a verse to memorize throughout the day. Or choose a word or a Scripture verse you could memorize and focus on this coming New Year.
On the 11th Day of Christmas Bask in His Presence
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).
- Carve out some time and space today for solitude.
- Create ambiance by savoring a second cup of your favorite hot beverage and lighting a candle to represent His presence today right there with you.
- Do something you enjoy that will help you relax and will refresh your body, mind, and soul.
On the 12th Day of Christmas Celebrate His Presence
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).
- Host a meal of celebration for your family and friends you haven’t seen in a while.
- Extend an invitation to those who may not have family around or people you’d like to get to know.
- Invite a neighbor for tea.
- Do something significant to remember or acknowledge a loved one who is absent by lighting a candle or serving his/her favorite snack.
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.
About this Contributor:
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