Asking God’s presence in everything
by PASTOR MARK LOVE
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words,” Romans 8:26.
In the prayers we pray, we ask for many things. We pray for a sick brother, for a dying mother, a struggling newborn, for help with our troubles, for inspiration, strength, and for many other things. Most often we pray for ourselves and our immediate needs. St. Francis of Assisi reminds us that in all the things we are praying for, we are praying above all else for God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. St. Francis wrote: “The heart of prayer is not asking God for something, but asking for the presence of God in everything.” When we ask for “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking for more than those things which provide for our earthly welfare. We are asking for Him, for Almighty God’s presence as we receive and partake of these gifts thankfully.
Many people are so often disappointed when their prayers go unanswered or the answers are other than they wanted. Yet God tells us that His presence is enough. In Psalm 46, God tells David, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This simple instruction is so often misunderstood. David was dealing with many concerns, fears and needs. In his fear and worry, David was addressing all these to the Lord in his prayers. David had prayed and prayed and it seemed as if the Lord was not answering David according to His needs. God’s response, God’s answer to David’s needs, his worries and his fears is for him to “be still, and know that I am God.” How does David hear God’s answer? What does it mean for David in the face of all his needs, all his fears, and all his wants and prayers? What is it that David heard and we should hear in these simple words of God? God is telling David and us, “It is enough that I am your God with you. In all the things that you want and need, worry about and fear—it is enough for you to be confident and at peace—that I am God with you and for you.”
St. Francis reminds us in our prayers we are asking for what God told King David was enough: that He is God and He is with us. This reflects when Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer—“thy kingdom come”—be with us, first and “thy will be done”—among us as it is in heaven, second, and then “give us this day our daily bread.”
In our life as Christians, we pray for the presence of God in everything, because it was and is by the presence of Jesus Christ in them, that He can fill them with His grace and life which will perfect us and all things for us. Our new life was born of God’s presence in the waters of Baptism, our new life is nourished on God’s real presence in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. Our new life of faith grows and is strengthened, as the Lord’s presence comes to us in and through His Word.