Study Guide: Taking Off the Headphones

Sunday May 25, 2008 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Is God's presence merely something we expect to experience once a week during a church service? Or maybe even once a day during a time of prayer? The truth is that God's presence pervades our life, but we are usually to distracted to notice. We are invited to experience God's presence on a moment by moment basis in our daily lives.

Extended Summary:

In this passage, Jesus is making a point about the presence of God. When brought before authorities, facing persecution and death, Jesus was saying that they did not need to worry, but just say what the Holy Spirit put on their hearts. Such a claim is incredible. What else would one do in such a situation but worry? For most people, their minds would be cluttered with all kinds of thoughts thatwould be far from sensing of God’s presence. If this is the case for those under duress, how much more should we be aware of God’s presence with us in the normal stuff of life? God is present with us by the Spirit 24/7. When we get out of bed, shop, drive, mow the lawn, at work, eating

lunch … but most of the time, our minds are cluttered with other things that hinder us from being aware of this presence. It is like we have on headphones that drown out his voice and leading. Normally, we are locked into our own little world of noise.

But there is another possibility. Traditionally, this is called “practicing the presence of God. Here are a few quotes by authors who have written on this topic:

“Can I bring the Lord back into my mind-flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind? I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering this question.” –Frank Laubach

“I will devote myself exclusively to the duty of the present moment to love you, to fulfill my obligations and to let your will be done.” –Jean-Pierre De Cassada

“This simple practice requires only a gentle pressure of the will… It grows easier as the habit becomes fixed. Yet it transforms life into heaven. Everybody takes on a new richness, and all the world seems tinted with glory…. the joy which I have within cannot be described.” –Frank Laubach

The question for us is not do we know God is present with us in the past? Nor is it about his presence with us in the future. The question relates to right now: have we submitted our life to Christ on a moment-by-moment basis? This

is a radical teaching that confronts our normal way of living. Most people live as “practical atheists” as we relegate God to the “spiritual” stuff while the normal everyday stuff we attend to. But we can acknowledge God’s presence on a continual basis, even in the mundane stuff of life.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How does the everyday noise of life drown out the awareness of God in our lives?
  2. What is your immediate gut-response to the idea of living in a moment-by-moment awareness of God’s presence?
  3. What impact would a greater awareness of God’s presence have on your life?
  4. Reflect on the three quotes above. What stands out to you?
  5. What do you sense God speaking to you right now about this topic?
  6. Before going about the rest of your day, take 30 seconds right now and consider how God is with you. Imagine the presence of God with you in your first activity, your second task, and while you are doing what you do everyday. Ask the Lord to make you aware of his presence.