Learning to feel God’s presence, I think, is similar to learning to form (or reform) any new habit. You do it over and over until it becomes second nature.
When you forget, you acknowledge your forgetfulness, maybe you think about how to avoid messing up in the future, and you move on.
Forget the on-going self-recrimination. The error was in the past. Your acknowledgment of the error (and your request for forgiveness?) were both in the past, too. So should be your concern. Tami at Lessons by Heart talks about her view of this here.
Practice, Practice, Practice
After a while (as my musician-husband always reminds me – practice will make permanent, if not always exactly perfect), God’s presence with you, His grace and continual blessings –maybe even His voice — will be clearer and felt more fully, substantiating each time the validity of your practice.
In his first conversation with Fr. Joseph de Beaufort, Brother Lawrence put it this way. He said:
That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually, and referring all we do to Him; we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.
And from his first letter he described that:
…by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of GOD is rendered as it were natural to us.
One day, one baby-step at a time.
Making changes in our habitual patterns can seem like an insurmountable hurdle…
I have found that when I am in such a bind that the best way to approach it is to forget about the future. I simply make a choice for today. Today I will exercise; or today I will pray; or today I will forgo alcohol; or today I will eat more fruit and veg.
My additional suggestion: Be gentle with yourself
I have found that being gentle with my own expectations of myself is important, especially when I’m trying to embark on some new project.
There’s always the possibility that I’m just being lazy, unfocused and procrastinating. But more often than not (for me, anyway) what can seem like self-made obstacles, forgetfulness, or procrastination (not unlike that described here by Angie over at Family Answers Fast), about my to-do list can obscure an underlying, nagging sense of ‘not-readyness.’
For me, procrastination is almost always a signal that God isn’t fully on board with my plan. In these situations, He most often has another plan waiting for me just around the bend that is more perfect than any I might have conjured up.
My suggestion: One day at a time and be gentle with yourself.
Practicing His Presence
So what does all this have to do with practicing God’s presence?
Just this: When we’ve begun to find a certain ease with experiencing God’s presence with us, procrastination begins to seem less like avoidance or laziness on our part and more like spending time in a holy waiting room, as we assure ourselves that we haven’t gotten out ahead of His light.
He might begin by giving us a holy desire – one so compelling that it can’t be ignored – and we find we are literally catapulted out of whatever stuck-state we’ve been in. We might find ourselves wanting to work through the night or to bound out of bed each morning just to welcome a new day.
When we experience His presence as we go about our daily errands and responsibilities, we will begin to hear His voice, sense His nudges and direction, feel more clarity that we are following His way…all with the happy outcome that our time ends up being spent more productively.
It might even seem that He expands the amount of time we have available for our work.
By feeling God’s presence, we allow His love to sooth our fears of unworthiness and replace them with confidence in how to move forward.
In short, if we allow Him, He will give us the all the tools and energy and time and enthusiasm we need in order to achieve the projects or create the new habits He has planned for us.
One step at a time in His perfect time, He’ll show us an easy, direct route to His plan for us.