“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” – John 17:3
When I think about what it means to know the only true God, I think of Brother Lawrence, the kitchen monk, who practiced the Presence of God. When he entered religious life, Br. Lawrence chose, when he was not participating in the community’s regular periods of devotion, to apply his mind, as he says, “carefully the rest of the day, and even in the midst of my business, to the presence of GOD, whom I considered always as with me, often as in me.” He adds, “Ever since that time I walk before GOD simply, in faith, with humility and with love, and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him.”
Practicing the presence of God is a very simple devotion, but, especially to start with, it does take an almost continual shifting of awareness. We don’t often recognize that God is with us in each and every moment of our lives. Intellectually we might have come to that understanding, but actually talking to God, listening for God, and knowing God is present as we participate in meetings, write reports, prepare dinner, teach classes, talk to the kids and grandkids, and so forth, is a different matter. We have to keep drawing ourselves back from an illusion that we are alone.
When we practice God’s presence we acknowledge that there is an Other right here, right now. It is a natural gesture of the soul to then turn to God, who is indeed always with us, often in us, reaching out to communicate. We might ask the hard questions. Or we might ask for healing for friends and strangers. And then, as we would with a beloved spouse of many years, we might rest in God’s presence, knowing that God knows us, values us, and loves us each as precious, unique and wonderful, even holy beings.
Then it is natural to walk before God in humility and faith, with love. Failing in every moment and always beginning again, we apply ourselves to do nothing and think nothing which displeases the Holy One.
Make practicing the presence of God a Lenten discipline of renewal. It is a way through which we can come to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom God sent. And this is eternal life.
“Practicing the Presence of God” is a short compilation of letters by and about Brother Lawrence, It is part of the public domain, and free online. It can also be purchased from Amazon in a very readable format either in paperback or for Kindle.
Laurie Gudim is an iconographer and writer who lives and worships in Fort Collins, CO. Visit her website here
Image: Brother Lawrence in Kitchen By Unknown – From a book published by Fleming Revell Co. in 1900., Public Domain, Link