I re-read this little volume one day in the first week of this New Year: The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life by Brother Lawrence (1605-1691). It impressed me in its simplicity, profoundness and encouragement.
I’d like to share of few of Brother Lawrence’s insights over the next weeks, written so many years ago in the form of conversations and letters to friends. I’m not a philosopher or a theologian; the following are my simple understandings of Brother Lawrence’s writings. I welcome your insights and comments.
Concept: We need to be satisfied in God’s presence, always aware of Him and never ceasing to pray to Him. If we truly believe in His absolute greatness and love, we should be filled with trust in Him and His ways, no matter what comes to us in this life. Brother Lawrence believed that we need to rid ourselves of trivial thoughts and worries and focus on God’s presence, His greatness, His plan for us, and to accept both “suffering and consolation, for all would be equal to a soul truly resigned.”
Our Response: First off, I think if we are to be satisfied in God’s presence, we need to know Him. This, of course, is something that will take a lifetime and an eternity and still not be complete, but we can learn to know God better through daily reading and meditating on His Word, and praying that God’s Spirit will enlighten us and show us who it is we worship. And, I think, in obedience to Him. I believe that as we obey the voice of God, we will begin to recognize it more readily. It’s an ongoing response.
Personally, I find it difficult to cleanse my mind of the trivial. I must still be concerned about my family, my home, my work, making meals, keeping commitments. But these will need to find a balance, a sense of being turned over to God. It’s a daily decision.
I like the idea of accepting both good and bad “as equal to a soul truly resigned” to God’s will in the knowledge of His love for us, but this too will take a lot of faith and practice. Moment by moment, day by day.
Today, I commit to listening for God’s voice as I read His word, pray to Him, listen for His voice, obey Him, and continue to practice the presence of God.