Encouraged by a friend’s mention of it, I dug through my collection of books to find a yellow-paged copy of The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. I’m sure I have read this book before, but it seemed brand new this time around. I am definitely in a different place spiritually, so the words of this book are like a breath of fresh air, encouraging me to pursue the Lord so I might know Him more – yet without the old feelings of guilt because I’m not there already, followed closely by condemnation saying I never will be.
Brother Lawrence lived and wrote in the 1600’s, but Whitaker House Publishers has done an excellent job of updating and clarifying the language for people like us not only to read, but comprehend, the riches contained within the pages of this book. It is primarily an autobiography, yet Brother Lawrence wanted so much to keep the focus on the Lord that he wrote as did Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2, “I knew a man . . .” This does not at all detract from the message, but accomplishes the desire of Bother Lawrence’s heart – to glorify the Father.
From the very first chapter, a desire was ignited to begin practicing the presence of God as I haven’t to this point in my life, simply because of the Truth so obvious in Brother Lawrence. In addition, my thinking was challenged by such statements as:
“. . . we must give ourselves totally to God, in both temporal and spiritual affairs. Our only happiness should come from doing God’s will, whether it brings us some pain or great pleasure. After all, if we’re truly devoted to doing God’s will, pain and pleasure won’t make any difference to us.”1
“. . .God has infinite treasures to give us, he says. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship? With such meager devotion, we restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace. . .”2
Despite the challenges, I wasn’t condemned as I considered my life against his. Instead, the Lord reminded me that He hasn’t called me to live the same life, in the same circumstances. Rather, He has called me to live the same consecrated life in total pursuit of His Presence, in my circumstances, so that, “acting with childlike simplicity in God’s sight, he did everything for the love of God, thanking Him for His guidance. And everything He did passed calmly, in a way that held him close to the loving presence of God.”3
It’s the simplicity of the Truth that has stirred such a yearning in me for life in the continuous awareness of the Presence of God. It’s not a set of rules or steps by which I can attain this position. It simply begins with the understanding that it is possible. It’s not a pipedream. It has been done before, as a human being yielded his life to God. Brother Lawrence spoke of practicing the Presence of God. It does take practice, but the more it is done, the greater the hunger, which leads to even greater practice. Yet it isn’t practice for the sake of practice, but practice with the goal of developing an ever-increasing intimacy with our heavenly Father. That, my friends, is worth every bit of effort. But don’t take my word for it. Find a copy of The Practice of the Presence of God and let the Lord draw your spirit to His as you meditate on its words.
1Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1982), 8.
2Ibid., p. 26-27
3Ibid., p. 16