Brother Lawrence (1611-1691) was a humble and godly monk who lived in France during the seventeenth century. He was an ex-soldier who was wounded in Thirty Years War. After being wounded, he returned home to his parent’s house and while recovering he decided to pursue a more holy profession.
After he became a monk, he discovered a priceless secret of the Christian life: how to practice the presence of God. He wrote that “all we have to do is to recognize God as being intimately within us.” He served as a humble cook in the monastery kitchen. And he learned an important lesson through each of his daily chores: the time spent in prayer should be exactly the same as the time spent doing chores. He believed “it was a serious mistake to think of our prayer time as being different from any other. Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities, just as our prayers unite us with him in our quiet devotions.” He also wrote, “It isn’t necessary that we stay in church in order to remain in God’s presence. We can make our hearts personal chapels where we can enter anytime to talk to God privately.”
In the classic Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence shows us this most essential of Christian practices. He rightly points out that we have to know a person in order to love them and the same is true of God. The more we know God the more we will love them. God is always with us. It would be rude if you deserted a friend who was visiting you so why would we be disrespectful to God by leaving his presence? He writes, “Do not forget him! Think of him often. Adore him ceaselessly. Live and die with him. That is the real business of Christians; in a word, it is our profession.” Such advice is just as true today as it was 300 years ago.