Why I chose 15 Keys To Enjoying The Presence Of God
I chose this book primarily because of its title (and because it was short!) I think a lot of (teaching) books spend a lot of time waffling and not enough giving the reader practical advice as to HOW the truths they are teaching can be applied in real life settings; I hoped this book would be different.
Initially, I was quite happy with the book. The chapters were short, easy to swallow and apply. I wasn’t blown away but I was… satisfied.
5 things I learnt
1) God wants you
The book began with a beautiful chapter which spoke of God’s pursuit of those he loves. I guess most people do not know that God is actively seeking them – instead they believe him to be this passive deity
that may or may not exist, who sits back and allows great wars and atrocities to occur. While God permits atrocities, he does not create them – man does (this goes way back to the ‘fall of man’ which I will tackle in another post).
Jesus uses three stories to succinctly describe his pursuit of you…yes, YOU. God wants to know you; he is interested in every single detail of your life. If you didn’t know, now you do. There is a relationship that can begin at any moment that will completely transform your life, break apart all the things you know to be true and then build you back together, slowly, in a way that is both beautiful and painful. It is painful because there are issues to be dealt with and ideals that have to be let go of. It is beautiful because your life suddenly begins to make sense, those dark moments of hopelessness become less frequent and bearable when they do occur, and most importantly (for me) you realise that you were created with intentionality and love.
2) How you start the day matters
As a Christian living in the modern world, it is easier to start your day with Instagram, comparing yourself to people you’ll never meet, than it is to reach for your Bible. I used to think prayer could happen at any time and all these Christians harping on about getting those early hours in were living in bondage and didn’t love sleep enough. How wrong I was! Imagine how you would feel if you started your day with the creator the universe? The One who knows the beginning from the end? The One who only sees order when all we can see chaos?
When we begin the day with God and spend precious moments reading his Word, talking to him and meditating on what we have read, we allow him to take control of our day; he becomes the ultimate influencer and has the power to shape your day. Some days, I wake up happy, some days I wake up sad but after time with God, I feel at peace and I know that I can face whatever the day throws at me.
Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
3) Be expectant
What do you expect? Are you just asking God for things and hoping that they occur? A man called Dr Worcester (yeah, I don’t know who he is either) said that during his years practising as a Doctor he was surprised to find that most Christians did not expect their religion to do them any great or immediate good.
That was frightening to learn given the power of prayer but I have to admit, I have been an ‘ah, God please do this..kinda…if you can…maybe…sort of’ (without much faith behind the prayer) kinda Christian. Sometimes I still am.
Speak HIS words back to him and pray affirmative prayers. Affirmative prayers are prayers that are based on the Word of God and are used in order to hold him to his promises. It’s almost like holding God accountable (but not obviously, coz he’s God lol) and it also helps your faith to grow because your prayers will not just be based on hopes and dreams, but on truths that have been written and that never change.
“God…please don’t leave me during this time, I am so scared..”
“God I thank you because you are an ever-present help in times of trouble and that you are my refuge and strength whenever I am in need..”
You’ve just recited Psalm 46:1 back to him. Boom.
4) Choose to praise
I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth
Take a moment every hour to give God praise, even if the moment only lasts for 10 seconds. Some people have said that this method is mechanical but I say (well, the author said) that we cultivate many negative habits as we meander through life; why not cultivate one that will only bring us closer to God?
Praise should continually be in your mouth.
Praise is different to thanksgiving. People often say that they have nothing to thank God for (which is a point that could be argued extensively) but that’s not what the author of this Psalm meant when he spoke of praise continually being in his mouth. Praise isn’t thanksgiving and the confusion between the two terms means that when things are going badly, we do not praise God because we feel there is nothing to be grateful for. This book revealed that thanksgiving is when we thank God for what he is doing; we PRAISE God because he is good and he will always be good, regardless of our circumstances. If we accept that God is always good then we should praise the Lord at every opportunity: at the bus stop, on the train, walking down the street! He is ALWAYS worthy of our praise.
I think this was the best part of the book because it finally cleared up my understanding of meditation. Psalm 1:2 says that those who delight in the Lord should meditate on the scripture day and night. I’ve always asked myself: HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE WHEN WE HAVE LIFE TO LIVE?
(I am so excited to give you the answer to this burning question)
The eastern concept of meditation is centred upon emptying one’s mind, staying in a fixed position (on a mat) and possibly repeating calming words in order to enter a tranquil state. Meditation on scripture is very different. We are asked to fill our minds and hearts with God’s word and we do this (practically) by memorising a scripture (if you have a bad memory like me, write it down on a piece of paper and carry it around with you all day). As you go about your daily routine, recite the scripture to yourself, bring it to mind at different points of the day, think about it deeply, question it, think about how it affects different aspects of your life and your character and voila, you are meditating on the Word!
Quotes I loved
If you hold onto bitterness, you have to let go of Christ and if you hold on to Christ, you have to let go of bitterness.
If you dominate your life then Christ cannot.
Can you see why the scriptures encourage us to welcome trials and temptations? They serve a divine purpose by opening us up to knowing Christ’s presence in a deeper and more wonderful way.
Would I recommend this book?
The book didn’t blow me away but I was satisfied because I learnt things I didn’t know prior to reading the book. I would recommend it on the basis that there were 15 steps and I’ve only touched on 5. Feel free to pick it up if you wish to find out the other steps!