The Practice of the Presence of God is just a little book. It is a compilation of letters and maxims written by Brother Lawrence along with recollections of conversations and a short biography written by his close friend, Joseph de Beaufort. Collected and published a few years after Brother Lawrence’s death in 1691, the book became a classic, highly recommended by such men as John Wesley and A.W. Tozer.
Brother Lawrence was not a great teacher or theologian. He was not famous for great inventions or discoveries or charitable ministries. His name isn’t associated with miraculous events. All in all, Brother Lawrence was a simple man. But he was a man who discovered how to live a life of unceasing prayer, consciously abiding in the presence of God. It was this practice of the presence of God that Brother Lawrence freely shared with others.
In his correspondence and maxims, Brother Lawrence shares his insights and experiences in order to help others understand and practice this spiritual discipline. I believe Brother Lawrence’s practice of the presence is integral to what the Apostle John referred to as abiding in Christ (John 14:10,17; John 15:4-10). Brother Lawrence describes it this way,
“The presence of God is the concentration of the soul’s attention on God, remembering that He is always present… this conversation with God occurs in the depth and center of the soul. It is there that the soul speaks to God heart to heart and always dwells in a great and profound peace that the soul enjoys in God.” (Brother Lawrence)
The book is short and simply written – you are likely to find many English editions, most of which have been updated for modern readers. If you are seeking a deeper connection with God that stays with you even in the mundane moments of life, this book is for you.
About the author: In the year 1614 in France, Brother Lawrence was born as Nicholas Herman. His family was poor, and as a young man, Nicholas joined the army where he would be assured of a meal and a place to sleep.
One cold winter, as a young man, Nicholas gazed at a tree, bare of its leaves and fruit, waiting silently and patiently for summer’s abundance. In that moment, Nicholas realized the unfailing grace and sovereignty of a God who was faithful to bring the seasons in their turn. In that moment, a love for God took root in his heart that continued to grow throughout his life.
Due to an injury, Nicholas eventually left the army and spent some time as a footman. Eventually, Nicholas’ search for a deeper experience with God led him to join a Carmelite Priory in Paris where he took the name Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. It was there, working in the kitchens, that Brother Lawrence discovered that experiencing the presence of God did not require a certain place or posture of worship except that found within the place where the Holy Spirit abides, within “the depth and center of the soul.”