Perspectives 7: On Devotion

For these weeks that I have been studying the letters of Bro. Lawrence and the writings of other early Christian writers, I have pondered in awe over their experiences that led to such devotion for the One, True God. (Spending much time in Asia among polytheism and animism the reference to God as the “One, True God” holds special significance to me. It is one of the truest Truths I know.) Devotion. This word possesses a power capable of penetrating the soul. The very image and nature of devotion has alighted my spirit this morning as I sit in meditation on the God of Love, the God who creates the stars in the heavens, the mountains of the earth, and the depths of the oceans. Of all His wonders, it is hard to fathom that I, so unworthy and ungrateful, draw His attention. Not only does He answer when I call, but He draws heartily near. What a gift is His sweet Presence!

Perhaps over these past weeks of study I have been too focused on the mere (I daresay worthless) act of devotion and have given far too little attention to the object of devotion. I confess a bit of shame here. Odd that one seeking a greater level of intimacy with Divine Majesty would focus more on the path than the prize! Alas, this is human nature – a nature of works and human effort. Grace. Today, however, I taste a new freedom in devotion: God, Himself.

It is liberating! I am removed and only He exists. The troubles and cares of this world fade away and my inner soul is filled and consumed by Love. As Bro. Lawrence might say, I am practicing the presence of God. It is a practice, a discipline, a developing habit. By no means is the study I endeavor a waste, though for many days at a time, weeks even, I feel I have made little progress. I will press on. . .”so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12 – the namesake of my blog). I am in pursuit.

And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to GOD, which I may call an actual presence of GOD; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent and secret conversation of the soul with GOD. . .Bro. Lawrence

Perspectives, 6

Brother Lawrence, whose life of devotion continues to amaze me, writes a letter describing ever so briefly “the method by which [he] arrived at that habitual sense of GOD’S Presence.”  I pause here. I have been elevating Bro. Lawrence’s life of devotion and wondering if I will ever be able to match it. I’ve even commented, “if I could be half the man that Bro. Lawrence was. . .(except that I’m a woman, of course!).” An all too familiar phrase that elevates one by de-elevating ourselves. Trap! Wrong perspective. . .especially considering the title of this blog series: “Perspectives from Brother Lawrence.”

On the 6th blog of this series, I pause to meditate on the title of this collection of writings regarding Bro. Lawrence. Practice of the Presence of God. The key word, of course, is “practice.” I desperately seek what Bro. Lawrence references as the “habitual sense of God’s Presence.” With great joy, I am discovering that this is not a supernatural gift or an experience for the few. On the contrary, it is a discipline that requires practice. And, if I may add, patience! With practice, the Presence of God becomes a Divine Habit, if you will.

Bro. Lawrence shares from his own experiences in developing such a Divine Habit,

I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy Presence, and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily.

What I appreciate most in this confession is his humanity. My mind wanders from the Presence of God all the time!! Sadly, I have a tendency to beat myself up when it happens. Not Bro. Lawrence. He simply recalled his mind to focus upward and continued in his practice.


Father, I seek you most earnestly. Teach me to practice the Presence of God by Your grace. Be ever before me in all that I do. May my mind linger on you giving praise, glory, and adoration for all things come what may.


As I continue in this journey toward greater intimacy with the Divine Presence, the Spirit of God reveals a transforming fire for which I am both hopeful and fearful. I tremble. My spirit longs to love God with more than this finite flesh is capable; a love, a union that transcends the natural world and embraces the supernatural. How I thirst!

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63: 1)

Though I seek His Presence all the day long, there are times, some great, some small, when I cease to look up. I take my gaze away from the only One that matters. I take His Presence for granted. You see, I know that when I look back, He will still be there. Grace. Jesus walked in daily communion with His Father. He knew God as we can never know Him (and how I desperately long to know Him). How precious must His Presence have been to the Son! How great the sacrifice when Jesus took on the sins of humanity, became an object of abhorrence to His Father, and found He was no longer in communion with God. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” The utter cry of His soul must have been devastating to the Father. It is devastating to me now. I can neither imagine such loss, nor even consider bearing it. Yet in this triumphant moment of the Son, the veil was torn and all who desired could enter the Presence of God. Jesus experienced the absence of God so that I might never experience such grave loss.

Bernard of Clarivaux writes:

To shame our sins He blushed in blood;

He closed eyes to show us God;

Let all the world fall down and know

That none but God such love can show.

I greatly desire to grow in the knowledge and love of God. To continually be in His Presence and rely on Him for all things. Brother Lawrence says the “greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is upon Divine grace.” As my soul professes love for the Living God, I profess also my dependence.


Thank You for Your Presence that I strive always to practice. I seek You each day anew. Forgive me for taking Your Precious Presence for granted, for turning away to things that matter so little. May the work of the Cross be ever before me. Remind me, O Spirit that lives within, of the gift of Your Sacrifice. Be my Divine habit! Let all my thoughts begin and end with You. Teach me how to love You in the Kingdom Among Us so that I might love you all the  more in the Kingdom that is coming.

Perspectives, part 4

I truly hope to encourage you with the encouragement I received this morning in my devotional readings with Bro. Lawrence. How can one small chapter seem to  contain a lifetime of wisdom? How does one take it all in?! I wish I could breathe it in in one large breath, but I cannot; my lungs are far too small. Even if I spend the next week or more in the “Fourth Conversation” with Bro. Lawrence, it will not be enough to grasp in its entirety. Truly devotion is a lifetime study!

My spirit is in pursuit of the Divine Love. From the early days of my journey, Psalm 27:4 captured my heart’s endeavor:

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate/inquire in His temple.

I pray to never lose sight of this great endeavor, that is simply to be in continuous communion with God, a magnificent obsession. Yet, how often during the day do I forget and find myself bogged down by things of the world! This morning I read of Bro. Lawrence’s great endeavor:

“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. . .”

Prayer and devotion are a lifestyle. I know this in my head, but to exercise it in my heart and life is another matter altogether. But, that is the goal—to never leave the presence of God. He is not some far off reward that we receive in the afterlife. Quite the contrary! Jesus preached the Kingdom of God Among Us. He taught the availability and the accessibility of God now. I say let every breath exhale praise and inhale His presence. Let everything we do, no matter how small, be done in worship. “[T]he 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.”



Consume my heart, soul, and mind. Fill every part of me today and teach me to look ever upward. I want to know Your Presence more than ever before. You are my greatest desire.

Perspectives, part 3

There is a great cost to discipleship but in the end, when all things are measured, the cost of nondiscipleship is far greater. How costly to live a life enslaved to the world, enslaved to the flesh, enslaved to corruption! This is death. In this light, I would pay any cost for a life filled with love, true love, the love that penetrates all darkness and fear, the love that brings safety, the love that lifts to the highest heights, the love that causes our hearts to beat and sing praise. The love of God, the reason we were created. His love is life.

Why, then, is the battle so arduous between flesh and spirit? Ah! That is the crux of life, is it not? Jesus says to find life, you must lose it (Matthew 16:24-25). Plain and simple. Yet once is never enough. No, the battle between flesh and spirit is never ending as long as flesh lives. Therefore, the rise of each sun requires a death in exchange for life. We must crucify our flesh along side Jesus knowing that what we experience He also experienced 100-fold and more.

I am struck by the immeasurable love of God and the measurable love I have for Him. I seek so much more. In fact, I insist there be more! There must be. There is a promise from God that says if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. If I may imitate Brother Lawrence in any area of his life, let it be his love for God. Like him, I am determined to apply myself (my heart, my inner self) to nothing but Him and to love Him only.

Perspectives, part 2

“. . .when [Brother Lawrence] had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to GOD, I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss. . .after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”

This is a perspective I seek. It demonstrates that our identities are not enmeshed in our actions and/or the results of our actions (either falling or victory), but in Christ alone. Our security is not in what we do, but in Christ. Therefore, if we fall or fail, our security as sons and daughters of God remains in tact. His love for us does not falter. Likewise, any victory we celebrate is not due our own effort. Nor does does it cause God to love us more. The victory, in fact, belongs to Him. He extends His grace in that He celebrates His victory with us as His beloveds.

I could spend a lifetime in this text (Practice of the Presence of God) and urge all who want to experience a deeper love for God to read and meditate on the conversations with Brother Lawrence, a lowly kitchen worker and exalted son of God.

Whether I fail or succeed, may all I do point to the glory of Christ, our Lord.

Perspectives from Bro. Lawrence

Today I begin a journey of rest. Not rest in the physical sense, but a journey to enter the rest of God – a promise I intend to claim (Matthew 11:28)!

I began a devotional reading of Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God. What devotion he demonstrated! What a model! Brother Lawrence (Nicholas Herman) was an unlearned, low class man who was admitted as a Lay Brother to an order of Carmelites in 1666. He had a remarkable conversion experience at the age of 18 that propelled him into a love with God of unmatchable proportions.

Not making it beyond the first page of this text, I find myself in utter awe and astonishment of his love and devotion to God. His great disappointment in God is this: “he had desired to be received into a monastery. . .so he should sacrifice to God his life, with its pleasures” but he “met with nothing but satisfaction” in his sacrifice. Truly, he embraced the Apostle Paul’s perspective that all things are loss compared to knowing the glory of Christ (Philippians 3:7-9).

This simple man also shares the value of continual conversation with God and how shameful it is “to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.” What wisdom!

O Lord, create in me a heart designed only for You. May I consecrate my time and my heart to knowing and living by Your Truth. Keep me in Your Presence, O God.