Practicing His Presence

Dan Lenington on May 9, 2014

Fellowship

Having known for a while that I must learn to abide in Christ in order to produce spiritual fruit, I have sought for help in understanding what this goal will look like when practically realized. A small book was recommended to me a few years ago which I only recently took notice of. Its title is The Practice of the Presence of God which is simply a compilation of conversations and letter from a humble 16th Century monk known as Brother Lawrence. His testimony of salvation by faith in Christ alone, though shared in simple terms, is nonetheless clear. His testimony of how he came to walk each moment in constant communion with God is likewise clear and absolutely beautiful. I simply want to record a few of His humble and honest statements which have challenged my thinking.

1. "He had always been governed by love, without selfish views; and that having resolved to make the love of God the end of all his actions, he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method.... He was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts." p. 17

2. "He was very well pleased with the post he was now in; but that he was as ready to quit that as the former, since he was always pleasing to himself in every condition by doing little things for the love of God. That with him the set times of prayer were not different from other times." p. 20

3. "Useless thoughts spoil all; that the mischief began there; but that we ought to reject them as soon as we perceived their impertinence to the matter at hand,... and return to our communion with God." p. 21

4. "The worst that could happen to him was to lose that sense of God which he had enjoyed so long; but that the goodness of God assured him He would not forsake him utterly, and that He would give him strength to bear whatever evil He permitted to happen to him; and therefore that he feared nothing." p. 24

5. "Our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for God's sake which we commonly do for our own." p. 26

6. "When the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might, so that he passed his life in continual joy; yet hoped that God would give him somewhat to suffer when he should grow stronger." p. 26-27

7. "We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.... The end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshipers of God we can possibly be, as we hope to be through all eternity." p. 27

8. "I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He, and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world." p. 31

9. "I have no pain or difficulty about my state, because I have no will but that of God, which I endeavor to accomplish in all things, and to which I am so resigned that I would not take up a straw from the ground against His order, or from any other motive than purely that of love to Him." p. 35

10. "One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times. You should keep  it strictly in the presence of God; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings." p. 49

11. "We must know before we can love, In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure." p. 51

12. "Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why, then, must God be neglected? Do not, then, forget Him, but think on Him often, adore Him continually, live and die with Him; this is the glorious employment of a Christian." p. 52-53

13. "If in this life we would enjoy the peace of paradise we must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, affectionate conversation with Him. We must hinder our spirits' wandering from Him upon any occasion. We must make our heart a spiritual temple, wherein to adore Him incessantly. We must watch continually over ourselves, that we may not do nor say nor think anything that may displease Him." p. 58

14. "I know that to arrive at this state the beginning is very difficult, for we must act purely in faith. But though it is difficult, we know also that we can do all things with the grace of God, which He never refuses to them who ask it earnestly. Knock, persevere in knocking, and I answer for it that He will open to you in His due time, and grant you all at once what He has deferred during many years." p. 58-59  

I realize how rare is the individual who truly walks each moment in the presence of God, abides in Christ, and walks in the Spirit. I am reminded of Psalm 10:4 "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." How many can honestly say that God is in all their thoughts? We may consider ourselves to be spiritual but if God is not in all our thoughts, then God says we are wicked through the pride of our own hearts which causes us to not seek after God in each moment. But oh the joy that is offered by forsaking self and doing all for the love of Christ! May this be our daily focus.