Have you ever heard of Brother Lawrence or his book, "The Practice of the Presence of God"? Did you know that he did not actually pen the book? And did you know that he was not really a monk in the theological/clerical aspect of the position? The following narrative and quotes are excerpted from oChristian.com.
Brother Lawrence, born Nicholas Herman, a lowly and unlearned man, who, after having been a footman and soldier, was admitted a Lay Brother among the barefooted Carmelites at Paris in 1666, and was afterwards known as "Brother Lawrence."
Nicholas entered the priory in Paris as a lay brother, not having the education necessary to become a cleric, and took the religious name, "Lawrence of the Resurrection". He spent almost all of the rest of his life within the walls of the priory, working in the kitchen for most of his life and as a repairer of sandals in his later years.
Despite his lowly position in life and the priory, his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, compiled this work after Brother Lawrence died. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with John Wesley and A. W. Tozer recommending it to others.
"Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity."
"You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we think."
"We ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speak to Him frankly and plainly, and implore His assistance in our affairs."
"A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless acceptable to God."
"Many things are possible for the person who has hope. Even more is possible for the person who has faith. And still more is possible for the person who knows how to love. But everything is possible for the person who practices all three virtues."
"We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."
Reading about Brother Lawrence this morning, and hearing what he said, reminded me that serving God is all about what we do when no one is looking. I think that practicing the presence of God is so much more than a religious cliché.