Besides conversations recorded by others, Brother Lawrence also connected with friends via letters. Some of these have been included in the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Below is the essence of his fifth letter, and responses that come to my mind.
* Firmly resolve to be wholly devoted to God.
* If you continually practice the presence of God, you will soon become spiritual.
* The first step to practicing the presence of God is to empty your heart of all else. This is what God requires in order to work in your life.
* Practice of the presence of God involves a continual conversation with Him.
* This continual conversation with God is sweet and delightful, but we do not seek devotion to God for the pleasure it will give us. We do it because of love.
* The delight in God’s presence can’t be adequately explained to those who haven’t experienced it.
* We often have no idea how much we need God’s grace and assistance in our lives.
* Commit yourself now, never lose sight of Him, “spend the rest of your days in His sacred presence,” even if this commitment requires great sacrifice.
* We have to want to commit to spending my time in the presence of the Lord. We may see the need, the necessity, the comfort and delight, but still avoid the commitment. Why?
—perhaps I see the effort as too great
—perhaps I don’t think I can manage it
—perhaps I think it will interfere with my life
—perhaps I think I’ll miss something if I empty my heart of all else
—perhaps I feel I’m doing fine as I am
Note the “I” in each of these hesitations. Brother Lawrence has continually encouraged us to think on Christ, not on ourselves. Our society influences us strongly in favor of self. It’s a hard habit to break, but that’s the only way we’ll ever make the commitment to practice the presence of God.
* We may have a misconception of the purpose of life. As a very old song states: “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room.” Yes, God blesses us and wants us to enjoy His blessings, but those are bonuses. This life is short and I need to continually focus on what’s important.
* Those brief soul-bursting insights into close companionship with God—I call them glimpses of Glory—should overwhelm us and inspire us to practice His presence daily, hourly. Yet we give up so many opportunities of walking closely with Him.
* We may forget how very much our Father loves us, and how much He wants us to return that love. But there’s always a new starting point. That would be now.
* We often forge ahead on our own instead of seeking and accepting help from Almighty God. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), but He always has our best interests in mind.
Writes Brother Lawrence: “Set heartily about this work, and if you do it as you ought, be assured that you will soon find the effects of it.”