Practice of the Presence of God

Spiritualpractice 56

Many mystics have spoken about the importance of “mindfulness” in our lives. None has been clearer, however, about the intentional practice of living “in” God’s presence as a seventeenth century monk, Brother Lawrence. He was assigned to the monastery kitchen where, amidst the tedious chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he developed his rule of spirituality and work. In his Maxims, Lawrence writes, “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?” For Brother Lawrence, “common business,” no matter how mundane or routine, could be a medium of God’s love. The sacredness or worldly status of a task mattered less than motivation behind it. “Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God.” Practicing the Presence of God is the spiritual practice which intentionally sees all our acts as contributing to bringing about God’s Reign, God’s Dream for humanity and the world. In this practice, no task is too small, too mean. Everything we do, if we do it out of love for God and God’s world becomes prayer. “I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” Brother Lawrence felt having a proper heart about tasks made every detail of his life possess surpassing value. “I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world.” Brother Lawrence felt that he cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured the scorn of the world alongside God.

For more information about this form of prayer, click here to read Brother Lawrence’s own words. It’s a very short read…

From the Buddhist perspective – very compatible in many ways with our Christian view of life! – see the ever-popular Thich Naht Hanh’s Peace is Every Step.