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Empty Shelf: The Practice of the Presence of God

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Brother Lawrence

Four transcribed conversations and fifteen letters: if that was the record of your life, would it be sufficient? Would your be able to fill that space with anything worth remembering? Moreover, would there be enough wisdom in that brief space that all of Christendom would be quoting you almost 400 years later?

Let all our employment be to know God: the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him. And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love: and if our love of God were great, we should love Him equally in pains and pleasures.

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get to back to sleep. I was in the middle of my screen free week, but I didn’t want to turn on the light to read. I didn’t have anything on my kindle that appealed to me, and for some reason *cough* God *cough* I thought of the book The Practice of the Presence of God.

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Brother Lawrence was a monk in 17th century France. He lived and died in relative obscurity, but his life was an example of godliness to those around him. The book is a collection of conversations and letters of how he lived moment by moment in the presence of God. I’ll admit, I started with some skepticism, not believing that the words of this cloistered monk could have much application to my life.  But never have I been so wrong and so happy to be wrong.

It’s a short booklet that I’ve read through a couple of times now, and some sections even more.  Each reading brings a fresh perspective and encouragement, but the crux of Brother Lawrence’s life and beliefs is this: “Our only business was to love and delight ourselves in God.” I was struck by how grace-filled his letters and conversations were, how easily he admitted his fault, how quickly he turned back to God who grants forgiveness and washes away our failings, and how he lived moment by moment in the presence of God. It really is a remarkable book, and every Christian should have this book on their shelf, but more importantly read it.

You can get a free or cheap version for Kindle, and the book-book versions aren’t very expensive. You can also find it free elsewhere on the interwebs.

2 responses to “Empty Shelf: The Practice of the Presence of God”

  1. […] “Let us make way for grace.” The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence […]

  2. […] drowning in my preoccupations before I’ll look up to fix my eyes on God. Much better is Brother Lawrence’s counsel to remain in the presence of God at all times. Instead of living fixated on the troubles and trials of life, stay in the presence of God and deal […]

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