Patricia Hofer

Brother Lawrence

Excerpt from Yielding To Wonder, pages 136-137

Connecting with the Lord in a truly satisfying way can be challenging. Everything else in our life intrudes. So the presence in our heart of the Lord’s peace and joy doesn’t happen often enough or last long enough to satisfy us.

Brother Lawrence—a 17th century Carmelite monk whose spirit and humility are an inspiration for all Christians.

That’s why reading Brother Lawrence can be a rewarding experience. Living in a 17th century French monastery, he also searched for a way to connect with God and satisfy his spiritual hunger. What he discovered was that he needed to form the habit of turning to God throughout his day. And he calls this “the practice of the presence of God” (The Practice of the Presence of God 43).

This made sense to me the moment I read it. In the first years after my saving moment experience, I felt the Saviour was always nearby. And then, as my life improved, his presence was harder to feel and “conversations” became more illusive. Reading Brother Lawrence’s thoughts made me remember how often in those first years I was turning to God. My life was unsettled and difficult. And from hour to hour and day to day my response was, “You handle this Lord. I can’t.”

When our lives are easier and seemingly more manageable, the temptation to be “in control” pushes out this humility of listening and yielding. We ask God for help during a few moments of prayer time and then run off into our day, soldiering on alone.

No wonder our soul isn’t satisfied. Our Christ spirit needs the nurturing that turning to God more often provides. As Brother Lawrence told a friend in one of his letters:

Pray remember what I have recommended to you, which is, to think often on God, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why, then, must God be neglected? (The Practice of the Presence of God 53-54)