The Reality of His Presence
David writes in Psalm 139, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” He continues in the next psalm “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.” Psalm 37:4 heeds us to delight ourselves in the Lord. Psalm 16 explains the warming promise that in His presence there is fullness of joy. His presence is real and worthy of pursuit. As John Piper notes in Desiring God (p.87), “To see Him and know Him and be in His presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight.”
The Reality of our Life
Immediately, I want to say “Yes” and “Amen.” There is nothing in me that would want to live in any other place than His presence. And then I get to work.
Let it be known, I work in the ministry, a “holy” place. And yet I’m still prone to feeling disconnected with God throughout my day. And I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar, whether in work, school, or at home. Most would not disagree with the reality of God’s presence, but pursuing it in daily life is an entirely different subject. Thus, I want to heed one of the historic masters of “practicing His presence,” the man behind the phrase: Brother Lawrence.
Learning From a Master
Nicholas Herman, known today as Brother Lawrence, was a 17th century Carmelite monk. Before you rub off Lawrence’s wisdom insisting you’re no monk, first understand Lawrence served in the kitchen of the monestary. His primary duties included preparing meals and cleaning…every day. And yet, he developed a secret life in God that would well serve all who desire to know God in a deeper way, especially in the routinization of daily life.
Where to Start
For all purposes, I will try to be as practical as possible. Know ahead of time that this pursuit may be difficult at times and will not always be glamorous, but there is no doubt it is worth it (if unconvinced, read and meditate on Psalm 16). If we’re going to start anywhere, we have to begin before school, work, or daily tasks start – in time with the Lord. It was said of Brother Lawrence,
In the beginning he spent the hours appointed for private prayer in thinking of God, so as to convince his mind and impress deeply upon his heart the Divine Existence. He did this by devout sentiments and submission to the lights of faith, rather than by studied reasonings and elaborate meditations. By this short and sure method he immersed himself in the knowledge and love of God. He resolved to use his utmost endeavor to live in a continual sense of His presence, and, if possible, never to forget Him more.
Before he set foot in a kitchen, Brother Lawrence had to meet with God and allow the presence of God to transform His heart. In the same way, we must allow God to reorient our minds and hearts before putting our hands to work. The story continues:
When he had thus, in prayer, filled his mind with that Infinite Being, he went to his work in the kitchen where he was then cook for the community. There, having first considered the things his job required, and when and how each thing was to be done; he spent all the intervals of his time, both before and after his work, in prayer.
Lawrence set aside time in the morning to meet with God; however, the entire day was a day spent with God. Please don’t withdraw thinking every breath you take outside of talking to someone must be a prayer offered to God. If you’re inclined to perform, Lawrence’s example will stress you out. The reality is, there is no one better to learn from than a man who walks what he talks. So let’s steep ourselves in God’s Word and allow Him to refresh and enliven our hearts before we step into tomorrow’s tasks.