Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
– Psalm 89:15, NIV
περιπατεω (pronounced per-ee-pat-eh’-o) is a Greek word used 95 times in the New Testament, meaning “to walk; to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities; to live; to regulate one’s life; to conduct one’s self; to pass one’s life” (NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon). This word is used in Scripture in relation to the ways in which we live our lives. We are commanded to walk according to the Spirit and not to the flesh (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:5), as one of many examples.
I want to walk in the presence of God – I want my whole life to be centred around His will, and I want to walk with Him through everything. I want to understand what it means to truly walk according to the Spirit, to walk in the light of the presence of my God. Since I first came to know God I’ve had this strong desire to grasp what it means in practice to walk in His presence throughout every part of life each day. To be aware of Him with me in every moment without the necessity of ‘feeling’ anything special, and to engage in continual conversation with Him as if Christ were physically present beside me at all times – to invite Him to participate in everything I do. After all, He is my constant Companion and closest Friend, and knows me even more intimately than I could ever know myself. I have been learning gradually that in order to do this I need to surrender to God my feet, and let Him teach me what this looks like and show me how He wants me to “walk”.
Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.
– Psalm 140:13, NIV
I have found that it can be just as difficult to remember and continually acknowledge His presence as it is to keep myself surrendered to Him. I want to walk in His presence as a surrendered child of God, a living sacrifice, without wriggling off the altar and reclaiming control of my own life – but I forget Him, and live my own independent life, and let Him down. Perhaps if it were easy to constantly remember His companionship, it would be easy to remain surrendered to Him – and thus to stay away from sin and walk in His ways and live to glorify Him. But training our minds in this way is not easy. May we surrender ourselves, our lives, our paths, our feet, into the hands of God, and let Him shape us and lead us.
One thing I have found helpful in this journey of remembering and walking with God each day is the priority of a ‘quiet time’ as Evangelicals call it – not necessarily being particularly quiet, but regular time set aside just to talk with God. As John Dalrymple said, “The truth is that we only learn to pray all the time everywhere after we have resolutely set about praying some of the time somewhere.” Having short times of prayer regularly can be immensely helpful in learning to centre our attention on God and remember His presence with us, leading us to ‘walk in His presence’ throughout each day.
Have you ever listened to an album and then for the whole of the rest of the day had one song stuck in your head, that it seemed impossible to forget? Or have you ever been mid-way through a novel and found yourself thinking about the story and the characters throughout the day, even when at work or with friends or elsewhere? I find that a similar effect takes place when we prioritise spending time in prayer on a regular basis. When we make prayer a priority, we begin to live the rest of life in the light of that. We recognise God with us, without needing to ‘feel’ Him or have any special experience. We can look to Him and talk with Him and simply walk throughout life with Him, with the awareness of Him walking with us. Madame Guyon emphasised this when she said, “Prayer is the guide to perfection and the sovereign good; it delivers us from every vice, and obtains us every virtue; for the one great means to become perfect, is to walk in the presence of GOD: He Himself hath said, “walk in my presence and be ye perfect” (Gen xvii 1). It is by prayer alone, that we are brought into this presence, and maintained in it without interruption.”
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
– Psalm 91:1-2, NIV
May we learn from this, learn to humbly and frequently come before God in prayer, and thus let Him teach us to walk with Him every step of the way “without interruption”. Then our confidence and our joy will not depend on the situations in which we find ourselves – we begin to live in a different dimension, where the workings of the Spirit in and through our lives is what matters most of all, so we cannot be too far shaken by the storms of life and the troubles that arise. When we walk in God’s presence throughout each day we gradually learn to recognise His will, His priorities, and His attitudes. We learn to trust that He can overcome and can use every situation as an opportunity for the growth of His Kingdom. Hosea 6:2 (NIV) says, “He will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” Lord – we want to follow You and walk with You wherever You may take us. We surrender our feet.
We must recognise that we cannot achieve any of this – the times of prayer or the focus on God or the “walking with Him” – in our own strength. We lose sight of God, we fail, we forget, we sin, we walk our own way independent of Him. No matter how much we may desire to change and live His way and focus on Him, our own efforts alone are futile. Only in God’s gracious gift of strength, and His guidance, can we learn to “walk in His presence” and live to please Him. So may we surrender to God our feet, and allow Him to lead and to teach us to walk with Him in the way that He wants. Alone we are helpless – but as we surrender to God may He pick us up and show us the way. May He guide our feet in the way of peace (Luke 1:79).
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD
– Isaiah 2:25, NIV
Living God, my Companion,
Thank You for always being with me.
Thank You that whatever happens in life, I can still walk with You.
Help me to walk in Your presence, involving You in my whole life!
I surrender to You my feet and ask for Your help.
I surrender to You the way I live as a result of this awareness of You.
Please teach me Your ways as I walk with You each day.
May I walk with You, living for Your glory and walking with You throughout everything.