The Practice of the Presence of God
By Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Before anything is expressed about this book, the caveat should be mentioned that there are many versions of this booklet available that should be avoided. Several years ago when I first discovered the existence of this work, I tried to find a faithful translation. I found some online for free as well as printed forms for sale but when I asked a reliable priest about such versions, he warned me to avoid them. Consequently, when I finally found this approved Catholic publication, unchanged from the original translation of the booklet given an Imprimatur in 1926, I was grateful to finally be able to read this, after desiring to do so for so long.
The wait was well worth it (Although reading it years earlier, when I first started seeking a reliable version, would seem to have been better, Providence ordained otherwise.) – and this is one of those titles that brings me especial delight to provide in recent times in our online store for the benefit of others.
A mere tiny booklet of only 64 pages, this can be read initially very quickly, it has since remained a faithful companion keeping me company, so to speak, for months, often referred to, always within easy reach, and a constant reminder – as the title indicates – to always endeavour to walk in the presence of God.
In the section called "NECESSARY PRACTICES FOR ATTAINING THE SPIRITUAL LIFE" we find this extrapolation of Our Lord's words, "Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.":
The most holy, the most general and the most necessary practice in the spiritual life is the practice of the presence of God, whereby the soul finds its joy and contentment in His companionship, talking lovingly and humbly to Him always and at all times, without rule or system, but particularly in moments of temptation, of trouble, of spiritual dryness, of revulsion, and especially when we fall into unfaithfulness and sin.
Then a very practical method is suggested:
During our work and other activities, during our spiritual reading or study, yes, even in our set devotions and vocal prayer, we ought to stop for a moment, so often as we can, in order to worship God in our hearts, to touch Him as it were by stealth as He passes.
Simplicity, and engendering peace of soul, are the two main attributes that stand out regarding this compilation of letters and conversations of the 17th-century Discalced Carmelite laybrother-author. The most striking aspect is how simple he makes this practice of the presence of God seem. And that beautiful simplicity is wherein lies the greatness of this work. Devoid of complicated or complex ideas, the clarity of how the author conveys the motivations and means to practically achieve practicing the presence of God will result in its readers being inspired, and aided, in this all-important means to grow in the love of God. And therein lies the crowning glory of this wonderful little spiritual aid!
Let the Holy Ghost guide you via this collection of maxims shared by Brother Lawrence to be led to "Be still and see that I am God" in that place of serenity and quiet "...and you shall find rest to your souls."