Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting to know Brother Lawrence

We're being introduced to a fellow who may seem strange at first glance, but whose "claim to fame" is the ordinary nature of his life and approach to faith.
Born in 1614 as Nicholas Herman, poverty forced the young man who would become "Brother Lawrence" into the army where he was promised food and a little bit of money. When an injury made it impossible for him to serve, he became a nobleman's valet. But discouraged by his life, Nicholas entered a Carmelite monastery in Paris as a lay brother. He didn't have the education needed to become a monk.
Among the brothers he became "Brother Lawrence," and was rather dismayed to be assigned to the kitchen crew, another task he felt woefully inadequate to perform. He adapted by grower ever more humble, letting go of common notions of success and putting himself utterly in the service of God and his brothers. No one was more surprised that Brother Lawrence himself when his gentle, unassuming manner began to attract admirers.
Brother Lawrence's attractive "ahah" was that growing close to GOd didn't need to be as hard as we often try to make it. "Men invent means and methods of coming to Gods love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for love of him?"
Don't be deterred by the old fashioned language of "The Practice of the Presence." If you have trouble getting started, try this reading plan:

Begin from behind. Read “Gathered Thoughts” first.

Exercise: What questions come to mind? Make a list.

Next, move on to “The Character of Brother Lawrence.”

Exercise: Write a min-biography of brother Lawrence in your own words.

Third, read the letters, one at a sitting.

Exercise: After each letter, write your own letter, to God, to Brother Lawrence, or to a trusted friend.

Finally, read “The Conversations.”

---------Read more about Brother Lawrence at:

image from


  1. Having spent the better part of two months attempting to translate the lessons from Brother Lawrence into my life, I can only report mixed results. His message has reminded me that God is always there with us, but there are still plenty of times when I either forget or hope he isn't looking!

    I wonder if the constant conversation wold be easier if God had a Facebook account?

  2. What a fascinating thought.....God with a Facebook account? How IS GOd present in the Facebook world? Has any one run into evidence of the divine presence there recently?

    There's lots of concern about who sees what on Facebook, we can see more of what each other are doing doing. Could feel like God watching, Psalm 139: Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? -The Message.

    There's also a whole lot of caring and sharing.Psalm 138: Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness.