Years ago, I read the classic little book, The Practice of the Presence of God by a guy commonly known as Brother Lawrence. He was a monk for the latter half of his life, living in a monastery in France from the age of around forty until he died in his early eighties.
Back when we first acquired the book, I dove right into following the steps Lawrence himself had followed in order to experience God’s presence all day long. And it worked!
But even though it worked, I eventually quit. Raising my son when he was little was hard work. J was constantly stressed on his job. I was putting pressure on myself to try to make money online so that he could quit his job.
So my practicing gradually slipped away until I was only experiencing His presence during a corporate worship service. And then, that didn’t always happen. We eventually gave the slim paperback away with dozens of other books when we began to downsize.
A few weeks ago, spurred on by the wonderful book, A Year Of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock, I looked for Brother Lawrence’s book at the Project Gutenberg website, which makes available many books in the public domain available for free in e-book form. And…I found it! I downloaded it, put it on my Kindle, and re-read it. Began to follow the monk’s instructions. Again.
Now, I wonder why I ever quit. It was backwards. When I most needed the presence of God in my life, when I most needed an obvious sense of joy and peace in my spirit, I pushed Him to the side.
Isn’t that just human nature, though? We so easily get caught up in the demands of life, in activity we believe to be necessary to survive, if not thrive, that we forget the One who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son.
When we need God the most, we push him to the side. In favor of our imperfect, flawed mental processes, in favor of activity that is often unhealthy because it’s based in worry and fear.
We relegate Him to a church service, and maybe to morning devotions, then let our minds fret the rest of the time. And even at those specific times of devotion, our minds often wander away from that devotion and into the worries and what-ifs of tomorrow.
Even though we’re commanded to keep our minds stayed on Him.
And that’s what Brother Lawrence discovered back in the 1600’s: as constantly as you keep your mind fixed on Yeshua, on Father, His presence will remain in your life. The sense of His love, the joy unspeakable and full of glory, the peace that surpasses all understanding.
I’m practicing the presence of God again. And this time, I ain’t quitting.