“The most excellent method…of going to God
is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men,
and (as far as we are able) purely for the love of God.”
Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God.
I am reading again the wonderful small book, The Practice of the Presence of God. It is actually a collection of thoughts, sayings and various conversations with a Roman Catholic monk known as Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Born as Nicholas Herman, in the French villageof Herimenil in the province of Lorraine, in 1611 his name was changed when he entered the monastic life. This book followed his death and was prepared as a guide for others in movement toward a deeper relationship with Christ.
Brother Lawrence’s life as a monk began with a difficulty common to each of us – sustaining a period of prayer all the while being interrupted by straying thoughts. This was a source of considerable frustration for him and one to which he gave considerable effort and reflection. His final solution to this difficulty was a simple one: he developed the habit of continual conversation with God. Whether at prayer or at work or at leisure, it became his practice to focus his heart and mind on God. Throughout the day, Brother Lawrence acknowledged the continual presence of God; thanking God, praising God, and asking God for God’s grace to do whatever was required of him. Rather than prayer being something done at set times during the day, it became a continual conversation with God as Brother Lawrence went about his daily tasks.
For the first fifteen years of his monastic life, Brother Lawrence was assigned “kitchen duty” for which he had a natural aversion. Yet, from his “practicing the presence of God” all during his awake hours, Brother Lawrence resolved that he would seek to please God in whatever responsibility was assigned to him. He approached everything he did – including kitchen work – prayerfully. The result was joy even in the smallest tasks.
Often I hear good church people make the comment that they are simply too busy to pray. Perhaps Brother Lawrence has a helpful word: resolve to acknowledge the continual presence of God throughout your day and speak to God as if God were standing right next to you. Further, with the realization that God is ever present, try completing every responsibility given to you with the sole purpose of pleasing God. The result may be increased joy throughout the day – even while cleaning the kitchen.