Note: My apologies that this week’s posting is a day late. I’ve spent the last five days at the hospital with my husband who had surgery a few days ago.
For this week’s post I’d like to highlight a classic book on our topic, The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Or if you read it years ago, it’s worth reading again.
Brother Lawrence, born Nicolas Herman in 1614 in France, was an uneducated Catholic lay monk who served in the Thirty Years’ War before joining the Carmelite Monastery in Paris. For many years he was a simple cook and later in life repaired sandals. From this humble, unknown monk came the classic and profound work named above which has now been read by millions. His book is equally popular with Catholics and Protestants and was a favorite of John Wesley and A.W Tozer among others.
It is reported that he lived with such a profound peace emanating from him that church leaders came to him for spiritual guidance. The peace of soul and mind which he enjoyed was not simply an absence of anxiety or worry but rather his consistent awareness of the presence of God within him. In I Thess. 5:23 He is called the ‘God of peace’ and Paul further wrote that this peace ‘surpasses all understanding.’ It also ‘guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’. Phil. 4:7
This French monk was in touch with God in a most profound way and encourages every believer to seek and attain the same experience. Keeping in mind that he was uneducated, the reader will notice that explanation of what he senses does not always make sense to the casual reader. But let me encourage you, if you pick up his book, keep reading and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and inspire you.
Brother Lawrence commented that the prescribed times of praise and worship in the monastery did not give him an increased sense of God’s presence because he sensed God’s presence constantly. Now wouldn’t we all like to be able to honestly say that? Brother Lawrence says we can…if we will pursue the Lord’s presence relentlessly.
‘We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence,’ he wrote, ‘by continually conversing with Him.’
How often during the day do your thoughts turn to the Lord? How often during the day do you speak to ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory‘? How naturally does your mind turn to Him when it is not occupied with duties or responsibilities?
These were some of the disciplines that led Brother Lawrence to that blessed state of being continually aware of the presence of God. And yes, it does take discipline but here’s what we all need to realize: the Lord delights in you and loves it when you think about Him and talk with Him. He loves it more than we do!
Love for Him is the driving force that will propel you to grow in the awareness of His presence with you and in you for one naturally thinks consistently about those whom one loves dearly.
Four hundred years ago, a simple, uneducated monnk fell in love with his God and the legacy he left has inspired millions to do the same. Once His presence becomes a daily focus of our everyday life, we will wonder why we didn’t pursue it sooner!
I have found that cultivating a thankful heart is a major step towards learning to live in God’s presence throughout the day. Start your morning thanking Him for the gift of knowing Him. Thank Him for Who He is and how thankful you are that He loves you so. Soon you’ll find His peace increasing within you and His presence becoming more real than it’s ever been, even during the simplest of daily tasks.
I close with this last quote from Brother Lawrence: ‘The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper.’
May we all have a similar experience of His presence.