Prayer is our soul’s traffic way to heaven where God communicates to us and we to Him. Prayer is as important to our spiritual life as breathing is to our natural life. Prayer is like spiritual breathing. This is why the Bible says to “pray without ceasing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 no matter what; pray all the time (never be finished with prayer).
Probably one the best books every written about living in an ongoing daily awareness of God’s presence through prayer was a book titled “The Practice of the Presence of God” which was written in the 1600s by Brother Lawrence.
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. This should be the testimony of every authentic Christian, “an ordinary man/woman who wanted to walk closer to God.”This should be the testimony of every authentic Christian, an ordinary man who wanted to walk closer to God. Click To Tweet
Lawrence 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, or listened to for free online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/lawrence/practice.
Arthur Wallis, A movement of God will last as long as the Spirit of prayer that inspired it. Any claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit but our prayer life is unaffected is suspect. The Holy Spirit is an intercessor. His work in our life will be seen resulting in prayer.
One of the features of the book is his cultivation of a continual sense of God’s presence. Not only would Brother Lawrence anticipate his regular extended times of prayer in the mornings but he would also cultivate a habit of praying to God continually throughout the day. He used the idea of “breath prayers” throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries.
Breath prayers are traced to ancient Eastern Christianity. They were ways to help move towards ceaseless prayer (1 Thes 5:17). The breath prayer is a short, simple prayer you can speak in one breath . Gregory of Sinai said, “One’s love of God should go before breathing.” The idea is to address God with the inhale, as though you were breathing God in. Then the petition you make is said on the exhale. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated in one breath. In doing so over the course of time you cultivated a sense of God’s presence throughout the day.
Lawrence describes this practice and how it cultivated a close relationship with God. 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.
One key God has shown us to a fruitful life full of His purpose is taking root downward in His presence through prayer.
Isaiah 37:31 (1 Kings 19:31) “The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward.
John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
The Practice of the Presence of God is a short book that I would encourage everyone to read or listen to.
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