“Let us seek Him often by faith. He is within us; seek Him not elsewhere.” – Brother Lawrence
It seems to me that a fundamental cornerstone of Christian belief is the understanding that Christ is available to us personally, and that we can get to know him ourselves, on our own, through prayer. Mystical as this awareness is, it is also quite practical. It gives us a way in to spiritual understanding that we can practice anywhere and at any time.
We are generally introduced to prayer by somebody else. It can be a friend or a mentor, or even the author of a book. Like Philip did with his friend Nathanael in today’s reading from the Gospel of John, this person will tell us about Christ. Like Nathanael, we’ll tend to make some sort of derogatory response. And they’ll tend to answer, “Come and see.” Christ himself will do the rest.
I came into relationship with Christ first through the prayer discipline of practicing the presence of God. I was introduced to this practice through a little book I found in a pamphlet rack at the back of the Episcopal Church to which I belonged when I was 20. In it the author, a Seventeenth Century kitchen monk named Brother Lawrence laid out his method of prayer and what the result was. He wasn’t present to hear my derogatory remarks concerning his simplistic understanding, but implicit in everything he wrote and said was, “Come and see.”
So I did. I suspended my disbelief and prayed in the way he outlined in his little book. After awhile, my imagining of God gave way to envisioning Christ, though never in a lot of detail.
I’m not sure why I stuck with this practice. It seemed like nothing much happened for quite a long period of time. I must have found the practice itself reassuring somehow. And then finally I noticed that I was feeling Christ’s presence, and this happened more and more as time went on. It was never very dramatic. Rather a quiet knowing emerged, not in my intellect but in my soul, and I felt that I could trust it.
After around a year and a half, I gave up this practice and went off to have experiences in the world. Even so, what I learned remained a core understanding. I have always known I can talk to Christ simply by turning my attention to him and saying whatever I need to say. Listening, I feel his presence always with me.
I’m sure that, if you think about it, you have a prayer discipline that brings you close to Christ or God. I want to invite you to share it with those with whom you are close. We are not required to do much in this regard, just tell our story. When the almost inevitable scoff comes, we can simply say, “Come and see.” Christ will do the rest.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. Visit her website at everydaymysteries.com