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The Missing Piece of Our Spirituality,
This review is from: The Practice of the Presence of God: The Original 17th Century Letters and Conversations of Brother Lawrence (Paperback)
I have my grandfather's copy of this book and have read over it several times in the course of my life. It's nice to see a variety of new editions out there and that this little book is readily available.
To me, practicing the presence of God is the missing part of the life of prayer and worship in the lives of many Christians. This little book is a basically a commentary on these 3 words from 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "pray without ceasing." Brother Lawrence was able to achieve this by continually turning to God throughout the day as he worked in a kitchen and by carrying on a familiar conversation with God before, during, and after work.
The book is divided into Sections: 4 Conversations and 15 Letters. Personally, I found the letters more compact and helpful.
Here are just a few of his insights:
The foundation of the spiritual life in him had been "a high notion and esteem of God."
"We should establish ourselves in a sense of God's presence by continually conversing with Him."
"We ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity."
"The most excellent method he had found of going to God was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men, and (so far as we are capable) purely for the love of God."
"That we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."
Here are some of the blessings that have come from Practicing the Presence of God in my own life:
1. I'm more ready to respond with peace, grace, and love to any situation.
2. It fills in all the empty spaces in a life of worship, service, and prayer.
3. It means I'm never very far from God and can't drift very far.
4. If I don't have time for a more extensive time with God during the day it's O.K. because I've been with Him all along.
A few cautions are in order. While practicing the presence of God as Brother Lawrence describes is a wonderful and potent blessing to all who practice it, the devotional life must also be fed by specific prayers, Scripture, and the worship of the Church. Brother Lawrence never speaks of the Scriptures, which is somewhat odd. Practicing the presence of God is best seen to be like breathing. It's what sustains us moment by moment in God, but there are many other things we must do to have life as well.
Another concern is that Brother Lawrence makes the practicing of the presence of God sound very easy. Maybe it was for him, but it is not for most of us. I wish he had included more practical and specific advice about what to think and pray when turning to God, and how to move step by step towards a life where one is truly practicing the presence of God day by day. (In one of the Conversations, some of his method is revealed.)
In spite of these few concerns, The Practice of the Presence of God will enrich your life and devotion to God if you meditate on what Brother Lawrence says and begin practicing it. One of the greatest benefits of Brother Lawrence's little book is precisely that it's little. Because of its relative brevity, a lot more of us are likely to read it and apply it.
Also, for those who have taken vows of poverty, have had poverty thrust upon them, or are just plain cheap, there are free versions of the book online. But it's much nicer and easier to hold this book in your hands.
The Practice of the Presence of God: The Original 17th Century Letters and Conversations of Brother Lawrence(11 customer reviews)