God and Spirituality

PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF GOD: LESSONS LEARNT FROM BROTHER LAWRENCE

By September 3, 2020No Comments

I first read about Brother Lawrence in my late teens. A seventeenth century French monk, Brother Lawrence mastered the priceless art of involving God in every single detail of his life. From the moment he found Christ, Nicholas Herman (Brother Lawrence’ birth name) performed every task as unto God:

‘‘ We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for the love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.’’

Not only did Brother Lawrence conduct his daily duties as a kitchen aide as unto the Lord, he lived every moment of his life with a consciousness of God’s presence. In his own words, he says:

‘‘As often as I can, I place myself as a worshipper before him, fixing my mind upon his holy presence, recalling it when I found it wandering from him… I begin to live as if there were no one, save God and me in the world.’’

In our present world of ever-increasing religiosity, but fast-dwindling intimacy with God, we have a lot to learn from a seventeenth century mystic, whose every waking moment of life revolved around his maker. Brother Lawrence surely has some vital lessons to teach us on leading a God-conscious life daily.

LESSON NUMBER 1: INTENTIONALITY IS EVERYHING

Our world is so busy, it’s unbelievable. From the moment we wake up in the morning, till we drag our tired bodies (and minds) to bed late at night, one task after the other pulls us in one direction, then another. Many of us hardly have enough time to calm down and smell the roses, let alone call to mind the person and presence of God. This is where intentionality comes in. We must deliberately practice the presence of God (as Brother Lawrence calls his pursuit of intimacy with God). As our lives become increasingly packed with many daily ‘‘to-dos’’, we only get to do those things we tell ourselves repeatedly that we would do. Intentionality would make you start having conversations with God, right from when you wake up in the morning (rather than wait for a one-hour block of prayer time that may never surface); it would make you go around with scripture cards, or stick bible verses on your desk or computer at work. Intentionality would also drive you to listen to messages or worship songs during rush hour, rather than gripe about hours lost daily in traffic.  Just like brother Lawrence, we must daily place ourselves as worshippers before him, fixing our minds upon his holy presence and recalling it when we find our thoughts straying from him.

LESSON NUMBER 2: PRIORITIZE AND PURSUE HIS PRESENCE

Before we can fix our thoughts on God, live lives of God-consciousness and practice dwelling in his presence on a daily basis, we must first prioritize that presence. We must treasure him greatly, desire to always be attuned to him and also long for an unbroken, intimate fellowship with him. These are the ingredients that would fuel our intentionality in seeking him, even in a busy, busy world. Thus, we all must ask ourselves: Do I prioritize my relationship with God? Does my heart pant after him daily? Am I conscious of his presence at all times, or only when I need breakthroughs and answers to prayers? When we prioritize God in our lives, we make room to pursue him; when we do not prioritize him, life’s cares and burdens will do a perfect job of edging him out of our hearts and minds, slowly but surely…

LESSON NUMBER 3: BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR KINDRED SPIRITS

Iron sharpens iron. It always has, it always will. Look out for others who are also hungry for God’s presence in their daily living. Ask God to open your eyes to see such folks. They may not be in the majority, but they exist. Through their speech, conduct, attitudes, approach to life and through the fruit they bear, you will be able to tell that these ones prioritize developing intimacy with their heavenly father, and he rubs off on them daily. The church (and yes, the world!) is in dire need of such believers.

LESSON NUMBER 4: DO NOT LET YOUR FEELINGS DECEIVE YOU!

Never allow yourself to feel that ‘‘your own is too much.’’ Do not entertain lying thoughts that tell you only clergymen and spiritually ambitious people need to imbibe the discipline of practicing God’s presence (living every waking moment of life conscious of him; sensitive and responsive to his word, voice and spirit). Let us remember that God is not a vending machine we go to, only when we need something. He is actually our very life. It is in him that we live, move and have our being. Should we then not always acknowledge the presence of the very owner of our lives? Again I say society is in dire need of folks whose minds are fixed on God. Life on earth becomes beautiful and blessed, when the hearts of men, even while going about the mundane businesses of earth, are fixed on the lord of heaven. That much, we have learnt from Brother Lawrence.

Written by Theodora

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