In the Way of Brother Lawrence

BY Doug Jones

July 24, 2012

never alone

Brother Lawrence was a Carmelite monk who lived most of his life in a priory. His role in the monastic community was serving the brothers in the kitchen. He lacked the education and, by some accounts, the ability to do much else in the community. He did provide another service, beyond washing dishes and peeling onions, though. He encouraged and wrote letters to folks sharing the “secret of his humility and contentment.” The secret wasn’t some unknown or magic formula, mind you. The secret was that, while he spent long hours doing mundane things in the kitchen, he also communed deeply, honestly, and regularly with the Holy of Holies. In the midst of ordinary tasks, Brother Lawrence turned inward to commune with the God of the universe.

We now know that these letters and Brother Lawrence’s story were compiled into that little book called Practicing the Presence of God. I have tried to follow in the way of Brother Lawrence. In the midst of my routines and patterns, I have attempted to practice the presence in authentic ways. When I go out to the stable at night to feed our horses and pick the stalls, it is a great opportunity to practice the presence. I pray, “Refresh me” as I clean and refill the water buckets. I pray, “Purge me” as I shovel manure and clean the stalls. I pray the Jesus Prayer as I move about the stable doing other tasks. I move a bit slower than I would if I just focused on the task at hand, but it is a time I look forward to as I end my day, communing with the Holy of Holies.

As you look at your own daily habits and routines, how can you follow in the way of Brother Lawrence? Have you found ways to practice the presence of God in the midst of your everyday?


[Practicing the Presence of God]

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4 comments on “In the Way of Brother Lawrence

  1. Man, that book rocked my world the first time I read it in high school. I started setting alarms on my watch for every hour to pray, and it set me on a path of new awareness of practicing God’s presence in the very natural flow of my life. I certainly don’t practice it as well as I used to, but the insights gleamed from prayer while brushing my teeth, getting in the car, running, taking bites of food, doing the dishes…so beautifully insightful.

  2. Prayer and awareness when it is embedded into the flow of our life becomes a bit more real, mundane even – less “out of this world” maybe? I think that is part of the beauty of practicing the presence: seeing God through the everyday-ness of our lives and becoming a bit more present to what we are doing and what God might be prompting us to see, hear, do or become in the midst of that. Out of that our prayer life I think becomes more real and more moment by moment. A little bit of my thought as I read your comment Josh. Thanks for entering the conversation!

    • Peter – I have often wondered if Rich Mullins’ lyric apply there about that prayer – “I did not make it, no it is making me…” I think it does! A beautiful, deep, powerful, simple, hard, confounding, forming, mystery.

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