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Book Review – The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

by David Yue

Click to see details of the book

This book is a collection of conversations and letters by Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk who died in 1691. This updated edition included “Spiritual Maxims, a compilation of spiritual insights gleaned from the 4 conversations and 16 letters written by Brother Lawrence.

Regarding the “practice of the presence of God”, Brother Lawrence wrote: “perseverance is required at first in making a habit of converse with God and of referring all we do to Him, but after a little His love moves us to it without any difficulty.” The practice is also described in the maxims as “…whereby the soul finds her joy and contentment in His companionship, talking humbly and lovingly to Him always and at all times, without rules or system, but particularly in moments of temptation, of trouble, of spiritual dryness, of revulsion, and especially when we fall into unfaithfulness and sin.”

The above seemed to imply a lack of consistency or discipline on the part of the practitioner. However, this is furthest from the truth as more discipline is required in acting on our faith in God especially when we are prone to be distracted by the material world. The discipline of constant communion with God is also a practice to give all in order to gain all, to humble ourselves before Him, to know and love God.

The practice also does not mean dissociation from the “world” rather it is an association of God into every single niche of life. As Brother Lawrence said; “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper.”

I encourage the reading of this book because it is a collection of thoughts and practices that seeks to bring readers closer in communion with God. This is especially pertinent in our modern society where we are constantly bombarded with myriads of distractions that seeks to divert our gaze away from God, and cloud our minds with the “inconsequential”. The book is also about worship of the most intimate nature where God is present in every aspect of our lives and where “…if our love of God is great, we shall love Him equally in sorrow and joy.”


Writer’s Profile:

David works for the Healthcare Division of Philips electronics Singapore Pte Ltd as a Project Manager. He is married to Josie Toh and has one son, Nathan. David and his family attend the Sunday Worship Service.


This article first appeared in Issue 7, April 2013 CHORUS Magazine.




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