Presence and Encounter

The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life

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The most vital and significant moments in life are moments of encounter. Whether we encounter ourselves, others, or God, these moments let us know that life is meaningful. And presence is what makes encounter possible. When we are truly present, everything that has being becomes potentially present to us.

In this unique resource, David Benner invites us to live with more presence so we can know the presence of God more deeply in our lives. Drawing on over thirty-five years of experience integrating psychology and spirituality, Benner examines the transformational possibilities of spiritual presence and encounter in fresh, exciting, and practical ways. He helps readers understand the personal and interpersonal dimensions of presence and encounter, revealing how they mediate Divine Presence and serve as sacraments of everyday life. His rich meditations are presented in a voice that is intelligent, compassionate, and engaging. The book includes end-of-chapter reflection exercises for individual or group use and a foreword by Richard Rohr.

Foreword by Richard Rohr, OFM
1. The Nature of Presence
2. Presence and Absence
3. Being Present
4. Three Laws of Presence
5. Contemplation and Presence
6. Discerning Presence
7. Clouded Presence
8. Luminous Presence
9. Presence and Influence
10. Encounter and Presence
11. Dialogue as Encounter
12. Transformational Encounters
13. Real Presence, Mystical Encounters
14. Encountering Divine Presence


"Having journeyed with Dr. Benner in a Transformational Coaching relationship for the past year and having experienced profound shifts through reading his many books before that, I am privileged to recommend the book you hold in your hands. I am excited about the potential for a beautiful unfolding in your life as you encounter practical sacredness, wisdom held humbly, and God's luminous presence within these pages."

Lisa Whelchel, actress; author of The Facts of Life: And Other Lessons My Father Taught Me and Friendship for Grown-Ups

"With his trademark blend of scholarship and accessibility, psychological insight and spiritual depth, David Benner has done it again. Presence and Encounter goes to the heart of spiritual formation and direction, awareness of Divine presence. Whether in Eucharist or casual encounter, it is awakening to Presence that makes encounter possible."

Gary W. Moon, executive director, Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center, Westmont College; author of Apprenticeship with Jesus

"I always learn when I read David Benner. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that Benner expresses what I already know deep down inside, and he does so with such intelligence and eloquence that my heart just soars!"

Ruth Haley Barton, founder, Transforming Center; author of Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community

"In Presence and Encounter David Benner provides a simple but profound guide to experiencing the presence of Christ (even in absence) in everyday life. Every day holds sacramental possibilities if only we learn by God's grace to be present and to authentically encounter and dialogue with each other and with God. I highly recommend it!"

Siang-Yang Tan, professor of psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective

"This book is a profound articulation of how the Divine Spirit pervades all things in the universe: the life force in all living things, the spirit that takes the form of our own spirits within us, and the energy that keeps the electrons in orbit in the atoms of a rock. This all-pervasive Spirit is what Jesus promised in John 14 when he said in effect, 'The age of Jesus Christ is over. Now comes the age when God is a Presence as Spirit.' Presence and Encounter clearly illumines our possibilities to be such a Presence to ourselves and each other that we experience in our encounters not just the dynamics of personalities but the numinous Presence of God."

J. Harold Ellens, author of Light from the Other Side: The Paranormal as Friend and Familiar (Real Life Experiences of a Spiritual Pilgrim)

"Presence and Encounter immediately draws a reflective reader into the essence of human living. It exquisitely points toward the possibilities of being totally engaged with all that is present in each moment--being available without reservation to oneself, to others, and to the Loving Presence that holds all. It is filled with joyous invitations to explore."

Jeannette A. Bakke, author of Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction, spiritual director, teacher, and retreat leader

"The words 'presence,' 'awareness,' and 'encounter' have experienced a vogue reappearance in recent years. But who is explaining these esoteric and ethereal concepts? My friend David Benner, that is who. In his probing, yet down-to-earth style, David gives us more insight into a spirituality that is at once contemporary and ancient. His work is winsome and practical; he explains and captivates like few can on topics this rich. If you have followed Benner's work you will love this project. If this is your first book, you are in for a feast!"

Ron Martoia, Transformational Architect (

The Author

  1. David G. Benner PhD

    David G. Benner PhD

    David G. Benner (PhD, York University; postdoctoral studies, Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis) is an internationally known depth psychologist, author, spiritual guide, and personal transformation coach who lives in Toronto, Ontario. Benner has authored or...

    Continue reading about David G. Benner PhD


2014 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Award - Body, Mind & Spirit category

"Benner shows how profoundly important it is for us to practice and experience presence in our lives. . . . For being a relatively short book, it is contains a deeply powerful message. . . . Presence is such a powerful idea, but most of us miss it everyday. David Benner's book presents us with a message that we all need to hear."

Peter Stevens,

Englewood Review of Books

"I am sure that this book--inspired by the author's early confrontation with the 'I-Thou' worldview of Jewish philosopher Martin Buber--will help us realize that attentive presence is what allows for real encounters to occur. . . . There are end-of-chapter reflection exercises for individuals or groups, and these are profound and experiential. . . . [This book] may be important for those longing for greater discernment about God's presence in their daily lives."

Byron Borger,

Hearts & Minds Books blog