The Practice of the Presence
...being Conversations of Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence discoursed with me very frequently, and with great openness of heart, concerning his manner of going to God, whereof some part is related already.
For more 'Conversations of Brother Lawrence', please visit:
He told me, that all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything which we are sensitive does
not lead to God; that we might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him, with
freedom and in simplicity. That we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to
address ourselves to Him every moment, that we may beg His assistance for knowing His will in
things doubtful, and for rightly performing those which we plainly see He requires of us, offering
them to Him before we do them, and giving Him thanks when we have done.
That in this conversation with God, we are also employed in praising, adoring, and loving him
incessantly, for His infinite goodness and perfection.
That, without being discouraged on account of our sins, we should pray for His grace with a
perfect confidence, as relying upon the infinite merits of our Lord. That God never failed
offering us His grace at each action; that he distinctly perceived it, and never failed of it, unless
when his thoughts had wandered from a sense of God's Presence, or he had forgot to ask His
That God always gave us light in our doubts, when we had no other design but to please Him.
That our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for God's sake,
which we commonly do for our own. That it was lamentable to see how many people mistook the
means for the end, addicting themselves to certain works, which they performed very imperfectly,
by reason of their human or selfish regards.
That the most excellent method he had found of going to God, was that of doing our common
business without any view of pleasing men, and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of God.
That it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. That
we are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action, as by prayer in its
That his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God, his soul being at that time
insensible to everything but Divine love: and that 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.
That we ought, once for all, heartily to put our whole trust in God, and make a total surrender of
ourselves to Him, secure that He would not deceive us.
That 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. That we should not wonder if, in the
beginning, we often failed in our endeavors, but that at last we should gain a habit, which will
naturally produce its acts in us, without our care, and to our exceeding great delight.
That the whole substance of religion was faith, hope, and charity; by the practice of which we
become united to the will of God: that all beside is indifferent and to be used as a means, that we
may arrive at our end, and be swallowed up therein, by faith and charity.
That all things are possible to him who believes, that they are less difficult to him who hopes, they
are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these
That the end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect
worshippers of God we can possibly be, as we hope to be through all eternity.
That when we enter upon the spiritual life we should consider, and examine to the bottom, what we
are. And then we should find ourselves worthy of all contempt, and such as do not deserve the
name of Christians, subject to all kinds of misery, and numberless accidents, which trouble us, and
cause perpetual vicissitudes in our health, in our humors, in our internal and external dispositions: in
fine, persons whom God would humble by many pains and labors, as well within as without.
After this, we should not wonder that troubles, temptations, oppositions and contradictions,
happen to us from men. We ought, on the contrary, to submit ourselves to them, and bear them as
long as God pleases, as things highly advantageous to us.
That the greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is upon Divine grace.
Being questioned by what means he had attained such an habitual sense of God, he told me that, since his first coming to the monastery, he had considered God as the end of all his thoughts and desires, as the mark to which they should tend, and in which they should terminate.
That in the beginning of his novitiate he spent the hours appointed for private prayer in thinking of
God, so as to convince his mind of, and to impress deeply upon his heart, the Divine existence,
rather by devout sentiments, and submission to the lights of faith, than by studied reasonings and
elaborate meditations. That by this short and sure method, he exercised himself in the knowledge
and love of God, resolving to use his utmost endeavor to live in a continual sense of His
Presence, and, if possible, never to forget Him more.
That when he had thus in prayer filled his mind with great sentiments of that infinite Being, he went
to his work appointed in the kitchen; there having first considered severally the things his office required, and when and how each thing was to be done, he spent all the intervals of his time, as well before as after his work, in prayer.
That, when he began his work, he said to God, with a filial trust in Him, "O my God, since
You art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Your commands, apply my mind to these
outward things, I beseech You to grant me the grace to continue in Your Presence; and to this end
do You prosper me with Your assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections."
As he proceeded in his work, he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His
grace, and offering to Him all his actions.
When he had finished, he examined himself how he had discharged his duty; if he found well, he
returned thanks to God; if otherwise, he asked pardon; and without being discouraged, he set his
mind right again, and continued his exercise of the presence of God, as if he had never deviated
from it. "Thus," said he, "by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I
am come to a state, wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God, as it was at first to
accustom myself to it."
As Brother Lawrence had found such an advantage in walking in the presence of God, it was natural
for him to recommend it earnestly to others; but his example was a stronger inducement than any
arguments he could propose. His very countenance was edifying; such a sweet and calm devotion
appearing in it, as could not but affect the beholders. And it was observed, that in the greatest
hurry of business in the kitchen, he still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He
was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even uninterrupted
composure and tranquillity of spirit. "The time of business," said he, "does not with me differ from
the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same
time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at
the Blessed Sacrament."
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Back to Christian Masters