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A 24/7 Spirituality

When Carla began wearing an Apple Watch, the experience included a surprise. Every hour the watch reminds her that it’s time to move. It interrupts her to encourage her to stand and walk around.

The reminders I need aren’t related to getting up and walking around. I need reminders that God is always with me. I need help cultivating a continuous awareness of being in God. When I conclude my prayer each morning, my intention is to carry a sense of God’s presence with me throughout the day. In the evening, however, I’m often forced to admit that I’ve gotten sidetracked. My awareness of God’s presence had left me by lunchtime. I need reminders to help me cultivate a 24/7 spirituality.

God is always present in our lives. The mystery of the incarnation is at the core of Christian faith – asserting God’s presence is both within and among us. Yet, it’s easy to find ourselves going through life with little awareness of that presence. Cultivating a 24/7 spirituality includes embracing two goals: developing a continuous awareness of God’s presence and assenting to living our entire lives in tune with that presence.

One goal of a 24/7 spirituality is developing a continuous awareness of God’s presence. If someone were to ask me whether God is present in my life, I would affirm it without hesitation. If it’s a quiz, I could pass it. When it comes to living with a constant awareness of that presence, however, I’m often doing the spiritual equivalent of sleepwalking. I go through much of my day with little or no awareness of that presence. That’s why I need reminders – ways of bringing my awareness of God’s presence from the background of my life to the foreground. A constant awareness of God’s presence doesn’t need to manifest itself in extensive God talk or wearing our faith on our sleeves. It is quiet knowing and deep confidence that in God “we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

A second goal of a 24/7 spirituality is assenting to living our entire lives in tune with God’s presence. At the core of assent is letting the divine presence inform, guide, and shape our lives. Assent includes a fundamental commitment to focus our lives on God. Tuning in to the divine presence every day begins to shape the way we think, the choices we make, and how we live. As our assent to God’s presence deepens, it has a powerful transformative impact on every aspect of our lives. That impact encompasses the way we see life, how we view ourselves, the way we are called to live, and the vision of our ultimate destiny.

Living with an awareness of God’s presence and assenting to it transforms the way we see life. As the Gospel becomes our lens, our perception begins to shift. We come to see life as a spiritual journey. That journey is more than a self-improvement project, a career path, or a ladder of success. Assenting to God’s presence opens us to unique insights and a deeper wisdom. We come to realize that being in God doesn’t necessarily involve accepting conventional thinking or adopting cultural norms for behavior. We begin to see life in terms of the Easter passage – from sorrow to joy, despair to hope, suffering to glory, and death to the new life of resurrection. Ongoing conversion becomes a major theme in our lives, and we are called to embrace it.

Living with an awareness of God’s presence and assenting to it transforms the way we view ourselves. Opening ourselves to God’s presence requires the humility to acknowledge that we are human. Our need helps open us to the power of God. That power frees us from our sinfulness – forgiving us, redeeming us, and bringing us more fully alive. We are called to claim discipleship as our core identity. We give up calling our own shots to embrace following God’s will and God’s way.

Living with an awareness of God’s presence and assenting to it transforms the way we live. Our anxiety and fear slowly give way to a deeper trust in God. We begin to take on the mind of Christ – embracing self-emptying service of others. We recognize Christ in those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, and in prison; and we reach out to the poor and those most vulnerable. We find ourselves confronting systems and structures that advantage some at the expense of others, and we find ourselves called to do justice. In all of this, we seek out the Spirit for the wisdom to discern what we need to do and to find the courage to see it through.

Living with an awareness of God’s presence and assenting to it transforms the vision of our ultimate destiny. We begin to live with what Ron Rolheiser calls an infinite horizon.¹ Our small view of life and our narrow ideas about God slowly give way to something larger. We come to realize that the trajectory of our lives is more than our time on this planet; we have an infinite future. Although infinity is beyond our understanding, we begin to imagine a reality that’s deeper than the ocean and more expansive than the universe. Although our minds can’t grasp the mystery, we come to realize that we’re standing on the edge of a reality that is vast and inexhaustible. As we try to fathom what our lives in God are destined to become, we find ourselves wide-eyed and full of wonder. Our hearts are filled with gratitude, and we give God praise and thanks.

We all need reminders to cultivate a 24/7 spirituality. Reminders deepen our awareness of God’s presence and invite us to assent it ever more fully. Reminders can come in many forms: mealtime prayer, quiet moments to reset, spontaneous gratitude for simple gifts, and even scheduled interruptions from our wearable technology. Each reminder is an opportunity to open ourselves to transformation in the way we see life, view ourselves, live in God, and envision our ultimate destiny.

Ultimately, living in God doesn’t come down to our efforts. God has always taken the initiative to come to us – actively intervening is human history. God’s revelation began in creation and has unfolded through time: freeing people from bondage, seeking out the lost and the broken, extending mercy and forgiveness, and transforming death into the new life of resurrection. A 24/7 spirituality calls us to trust that the divine presence pervading human history also comes to live in each of us. It invites us to see all of life as a spiritual journey. A 24/7 spirituality urges us to live and move and have our being in God. It calls us to live in gratitude and joy for the gift of God’s presence shaping our lives and calling us home.

Questions to Ponder

Here are some questions to help you ponder what a 24/7 spirituality means for you.

  • How aware are you of God’s presence in your life every day – all day?
  • What reminders do you need to help you cultivate a more continuous awareness of God’s presence throughout your day?
  • In what ways are you assenting to live in tune with God’s presence – letting it shape your thinking, decisions, and actions?
  • In what ways do you experience resisting God’s presence?
  • How is God’s presence in your life shaping:
    • Your view of life?
    • Your self-understanding?
    • How you live?
    • The vision of your ultimate destiny?
  • What steps could you take to foster a 24/7 spirituality?

Note

¹ Ronald Rolheiser, Against an Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in Our Everyday Lives (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2021)