Brother Lawrence started out life as Nicholas Herman of Lorraine. He lived in France from 1610 to 1691. He worked as a soldier and footman. Later he decided he wanted to walk in a closer relationship with God and joined a monastic order called the Carmelites as a lay brother among them. He was not a priest but just an ordinary man who wanted to walk closer to God.
He worked in the kitchen as a cook for 15 years. It wasn’t something that he necessarily wanted to do. As a matter of fact he had an aversion to kitchen work. But he decided to do it to the glory of God and cultivate a sense of God’s presence as he did.
The book is largely a compilation of letters. It can be read for free online at www.ccel.org. One of the features of the book is his cultivation of a continual sense of God’s presence.
Not only would he participate in his regular extended times of prayer in the mornings but he would also cultivate a habit of praying to God continually throughout the day. In doing so over the course of time he cultivated a sense of God’s presence throughout the day.
Thus by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherin it would be a difficult for me not to think of God, as it was at first to accustom myself to it…As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise.
Listen to some of his approaches to developing the habit of continual prayer.
It’s possible to accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with God, speaking to Him freely and in simplicity. We need only to recognize God intimately present with us and to address ourselves to Him every moment… God requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration: sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you and still gives you in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can…. It is not necessary for being with God to be always at church; we may make an oratory of our heart, wherein to retire from time to time, to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love. Every one is capable of such familiar conversation with God, some more, some less: He knows what we can do. Let us begin then; perhaps He expects but one generous resolution on our part.
He also addresses the issue of feeling God’s presence. We pray continually not to feel God’s presence, but to cultivate a sense of focus upon Him. The awareness of feeling God’s presence often follows but it shouldn’t be our aim.
We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him…. In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him; we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficult.
The Practice of the Presence of God is a short book that I would encourage everyone to read.
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