How To Practice The Presence Of God: Insights From Brother Lawrence

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Practicing The Presence Of God
Alexis Waid
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Alexis Waid

Alexis has a Master's degree from Denver Seminary and a Bachelor's degree from Colorado Christian University. She has been in professional ministry for over 15 years. She has served in ministry positions such as co-pastor, youth minister, and spiritual director.
She is a mom, wife, and passionate believer that Jesus changes everything.
Alexis Waid
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Practicing The Presence Of God | Brother Lawrence

Practicing the Presence of God is a spiritual exercise that challenges us to remain focused on God during an everyday task or chore. Long associated with Brother Lawrence, a monk who wrote about his experiences with Practicing the Presence, it is a spiritual approach to life that asks us to break down barriers that distract us from God’s presence. In this article, we discuss some of the important ideas, Scripture, and thoughts from Brother Lawrence to help you better understand Practicing the Presence of God.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a button to download a worksheet we’ve assembled to help you incorporate Practicing the Presence of God into your own life. Specifically, the worksheet will help you in your first attempts to try this spiritual practice. So if you’re interested or encouraged to bring Practicing the Presence into your own faith journey, we encourage you to download this PDF worksheet and work through it as you move toward a more intimate relationship with God.

Practicing The Presence Of God

How often do we lose sight?

How common is it for us to lose our way and our footing?

All too quickly, right?

So often we go through life believing everything is perfectly fine until… suddenly it isn’t. Maybe reality hits you when someone says something rude or inappropriate. Perhaps it’s when you’re cut off in traffic and nearly get into an accident. Or it might be something as simple as a stupid fight with a loved one.

But where does the sudden negativity leave you? Usually upset, of course. Maybe even so bothered that it ruins an entire day or week.

It’s true, these things happen and they affect us. The world we live in was not supposed to be like this, right?

We used to live in perfection, in the Garden.

The Garden was perfect. 

The Garden was safe. 

The Garden was home. 

And it was in the residence of the Garden where God met with humanity. He literally walked with Adam and Eve. He was their God and they were His people. 

Everything was good – until it wasn’t. 

But you know the story, the temptation and the Fall. 

And it’s in this cursed world, the one filled with sin, where we reside. 

But it’s not so bleak and hopeless, because it is in that same world that Jesus Christ was born, ministered, died and claimed victory over death. 

Jesus was and is our example of what it looks like to practice the presence of God in this harsh world. 

Sometimes we forget that Jesus was man, a real blood and flesh. Yes, it is true that He too was God, but it’s profoundly important that we understand that the humanness of Jesus. He was and is a human being. He was like us.

Of course, the only exception is that He did not sin, but He was fully human… and in that we have hope and direction. 

See, Jesus came to right the wrong that happened all the way back in the Garden.

“Take me back to the garden. Take me back and walk with me. For Your presence I am longing. Take me back God, take me back!”

Crowder – “Back To The Garden”

Without Jesus, Practicing the Presence of God would simply not be possible. It’s because of Jesus that we have the unbelievable privilege of being with God.

When we look to Jesus’ life and understand His humanity, we see that He is our role model. He shows us what it looks like to constantly be practicing the presence of God, for this is where Jesus’ strength came from.

Philippians 2:7 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human!

Philippians 2:7 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Jesus didn’t depend on His divinity to do his earthly ministry, but rather the Holy Spirit. For if Jesus depended on His divinity, what kind of example would that be for the rest of us?

No, He showed us what it looks like to be a temple for the Holy Spirit.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV)

The Holy Spirit literally lives in us. I know this isn’t new information for you, but it is essential for you to understand Practicing the Presence of God. 

So for now, I want you to hold all of those theological truths in your mind as we move on to an explanation of Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Practicing The Presence Of God

Brother Lawrence 

Brother Lawrence was a 17th century Carmelite monk in France. He was assigned to kitchen duty in the monastery, where he prepared and cooked the food for the day  and cleaned afterwards.

With such a dull task, Brother Lawrence began to infuse His relationship with God into His menial tasks. 

Instead of just doing the dishes or cooking the meal, he decided to have an on going conversation with God as he went about his chores. 

Brother Lawrence believed God could be invited into everything he did and His presence could be enjoyed anytime. 

“Brother Lawrence retreated to a place in his heart where the love of God made every detail of his life of surpassing value. ‘I (Brother Lawrence) began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world.’ Together, God and Brother Lawrence cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured the scorn of the world. 

Christianity Today International

Brother Lawrence’s objective: to keep a steady connection with God by means of communication throughout the whole day no matter what his day brought. This is what brings true, hidden joy. 

“Lawrence encourages the people of God to sustain—livingly, intentionally, and without ceasing—an attentiveness to God’s close presence. The believer understands that in this presence, and ultimately nowhere else, if fullness of joy; at God’s right hand are the deepest and most enduring pleasures of all.” Dictionary of Christian Spirituality p. 690

Practicing the Presence of God as described by Brother Lawrence is a life that is filled with intimacy and hidden joy. 

When I was in seminary, I had a friend Sharon who would Practice the Presence of God wherever she was. She used to tell me:

“You know Alexis, people must think I’m crazy. I’ll be out there on the bike trail and I will just be walking and talking to God out loud. Like I am in a serious conversation with my Papa and I don’t care who is around me, I am swept up in my Lord.”

Sharon – True Prayer Warrior

Sharon was a true prayer warrior as she would spend countless hours in deep conversation with God. Sharon, whether she realized it or not, always was Practicing the Presence of God. It was her lifestyle, because God was everything to her. 

I want to share one other sentiment Sharon would share with me all the time, “I got a rich and good Daddy, I have nothing to worry about.”

And we do have a good, rich Daddy – we really do. He is the Ruler of all things, even time itself. He is good and loving and our connection to Him is everything. It is our lifeblood.

One thing Brother Lawrence that was disclosed in the book published about him and Practicing the Presence is that Brother Lawrence had this secret life that was filled with joy. 

Because He brought God into ALL things of his life, no matter how small, Brother Lawrence began to grow and cultivate the Fruit of joy – and how!

Brother Lawrence had this wellspring that would bubble up and out simply from staying in conversation with God throughout his day. 

And what is great this same ability is available to both you and I. We simply must train ourselves to turn to God repeatedly and we too can foster the Fruit of joy in our lives and a rich conversational relationship with God that has endless benefits. 

It’s easier said then done. 

It takes an act of humility.

It takes an act of dependency on God.

It takes an act of discipline. 

We are trained to figure out our own problems and troubleshoot. We go about our days as decision makers. Sometimes we might just feel like firefighters, constantly putting out the flames of the latest issue to flare up.

We often feel so capable, and it’s not until things start to get bad that we realize how much we need God.

When we have no other options but God, that’s when we most feel like running to Him.

But what if we ran to Him every day and moment of our lives? Wouldn’t our lives be different?

Wouldn’t we look more like Jesus, or even Paul?

You better believe we would. 

It’s my constant aim to keep connected to God throughout my day. It’s hard though, and there are MANY reasons for that. In fact, that could be a whole other post!

I love this quote from Calhoun from her book The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. In this quote, she speaks about Practicing the Presence of God:

“We become so preoccupied with the to-do list and so overwhelmed by the pace of life that we forget to look for God sightings in our day.” 

Calhoun – The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, pg. 72

We are preoccupied. We live in a fast paced, quick-satisfaction seeking world full of opportunities for instant gratification.

If we want God to be the center of our lives, then we must train ourselves to turn to Him and not just at the beginning or end of the day, but from moment to moment – or in Brother Lawrence’s case,  task by task. 

How To Practice The Presence Of God

Practicing The Presence Of God

The purpose of this spiritual practice is to help you walk with God no matter what you are doing, from washing dishes at home to sitting through a meeting at work. And even better…it’s super simple!

Be sure to download our Practicing The Presence Worksheet to help you get started incorporating Practicing the Presence in your own faith routine. 

Practicing The Presence means keeping in mind that God is with you as you go about your day.

For example:

  • As you are embarking on your daily chores: keep God’s presence in the forefront of your mind.
  • As you are watching your children: keep God’s presence in the forefront of your mind.
  • As you are meeting up with your friends for coffee: keep God’s presence in the forefront of your mind.
  • As you are studying for a test: keep God’s presence in the forefront of your mind.
  • As you are watching TV: keep God’s presence in the forefront of your mind.
  • As you are working at the office: keep God’s presence in the forefront of your mind.

Again, sounds very simple – and it is! But the challenge is to remain focused and intent on keeping God’s presence at your attention. 

If you find your mind wandering – that’s ok. Remind yourself that practicing the presence requires discipline and practice. That’s why they’re called spiritual disciplines and spiritual practices!

If you realize you’ve become distracted, or lost your connection, don’t become guilty. Just bring yourself back into focus on God and continue on. With repetition, experience, and becoming tuned to God’s dwelling, you will become more accustomed to practicing the presence of God.

The true fruit of Practicing the Presence comes with time.

As you spend more time with God, you’ll gain insight and awareness of how He is working in your life. You’ll find yourself missing the experience of intimacy with God and naturally working to create space for it again. You will grow in your faith and love for Jesus. 

We hope this article has been helpful for you as you explore Practicing the Presence of God in your own life. Again, make sure to download our worksheet and use it to help plan how to begin Practicing the Presence of God in a way that suits your life best.  

Practicing the presence of God by Brother Lawrence is an amazing prayer practice to help you grow closer to God. This post explores how this spiritual discipline helps you foster joy and intimacy with God. Free worksheets included!