Book Review,  Culture,  Faith,  Holy Spirit,  Paul Backholer

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it” – Brother Lawrence

You can feel God in the kitchen. You can sense the Lord at work. You can know the presence of Jesus in menial chores. This was the message of Brother Lawrence, a peasant soldier who became a monk in seventeenth century France.

Through patience, Lawrence learnt to still his mind and focus on God’s presence in all his dealings. He struggled at first with tedious chores in the monastery; travelling into the village for goods, cleaning and cooking became a bore. Then he began to sense the wonder of God in all things, saying it is not “needful that we should have great things to do.”

God, Lawrence found, is everywhere. The Lord can be as present when you scrub pots, as on the mountain top. Lawrence did all things, including the smallest, for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

Brother Lawrence urges Christians to think on God, to perceive His beauty everywhere and to trust God is in control. He found beauty in Paul’s admonishing: ‘Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men’ (Colossians 3:23).

We must “form a habit of conversing with God continually and referring all we do to Him, we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly.”

Brother Lawrence gave up carrying the burdens of the world and rested in God, refusing to lose his peace over the sins of others: “I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world,” and he warned of distractions: “Men amuse themselves with trivial devotions, which change daily.”

There is nothing else more important than developing a “habitual, silent and secret conversation of the soul with God.”

In one letter he encourages a believer to ‘think of God the most he can; let him accustom himself, by degrees, to this small but holy exercise.’

Father Joseph de Beaufort collected the Maxims and letters of Brother Lawrence which became the book The Practice of the Presence of God, with this final thought:  ‘You need not cry very loud: He is nearer to us than we think.’

By Paul Backholer. Find out about Paul’s books here.