Saturday, 18 June 2011

Brother Lawrence - Practicing the Presence of God

I read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence a while ago. I quote from the book just below my Blog title. Brother Lawrence lived a quiet life in a monastery in Paris where he was a cook. Brother Lawrence's aim in life was to live simply and only for God offering up even the mundane work in the kitchen for His glory.

Yesterday, I came across a website (I didn't note the location so I can't direct you there - although if you Google it you can easily find similar sites) which claimed that The Practice of the Presence of God was new age in tone and intimation. Equally the site claimed Brother Lawrence was possessed and not a child of God. This claim is based on an observance that Brother Lawrence occasionally danced and sang like a mad-man if he ever felt that he had let God down in any way.

So I just wanted to write that I found nothing disturbing in the book, I felt no check in my spirit, simply the record of a simple, gentle man who wanted nothing for himself and who instead wanted all for God. Having never met the man I cannot make any observation about his dancing about like a mad-man, but I often dance about like a mad-man when, for example, I spill a drink on the carpet in the living room (our carpet is on it's last legs and is a source of embarrassment to me, hence my obsession with keeping it clean!). So having a temper of my own I can only empathise with someone who may have had equally passionate outbreaks of temper, yet it seems Brother Lawrence's reasons for dancing about were quite a bit more laudable than my own reasons! I let God down by my temper, Brother Lawrence was distressed by the thought that he had let God down.

Anyway, the reasons for Brother Lawrence's 'dancing like a madman' are all conjecture. We could claim that King David was a mad-man for shedding his outer garments and dancing before the Ark of the Lord! But we wouldn't dare claim he was possessed.

The Practice of the Presence of God is a very short but beautiful book and I believe that meditation upon the Lord can only be good.

"In our conversation with God we should engage in praising, adoring, and loving Him incessantly for His infinite goodness and perfection. "

"We ought not 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".

There is a difference between the sinful transcendental meditation of new age practice and the practice of meditating (thinking on) the wonders of God, of His love, His loving-kindnesses, His Word, His grace, His mercy...I could go on.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Psalm 63:5-7

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8


  1. I haven't studied transcendental meditation at all, but I do fully believe that we are to meditate on God and His Word. I've also realized lately that that is exactly what Phil 4:8 is talking about. :)

  2. Well, to be honest I haven't 'studied' transcendental meditation. I know that it stems from Buddhist/Krishna thought. I think you just repeat a mantra until you enter an altered, supposedly relaxed, state of mind/spirituality. They also apparently make strange claims - like people can levitate and all that hog-wash.

    The meditation that Brother Lawrence talks about is the meditation - thinking upon - God and His many wonderful qualities. No floating about or nonsensical chanting involved! :P

  3. Oh, I was going to add...I've been realizing more and more how choosing to focus on God helps keep my mind off the negative things happening around me too. Sometimes it's a bit of a chore to get started, but it can be quite relaxing once my body and mind start falling into the peace of God. :)

  4. Yes, I totally agree. It is so easy to think about 'bad' stuff, but if we think on God and His promises, etc, we do feel more peaceful.

  5. I agree. I read Brother Lawrence and felt that his meditative practices are in line with what the Bible says when it tells us to meditate on God or His Word.

    Inappropriate meditation requires the seeker to empty their mind and that is where danger comes in...through empty minds - it gives Satan and his crew plenty of ways in...