I wonder if you have ever tried to read any of the Christian Classics - books written by the early Church Fathers and by later Christians that have been handed down through the centuries as worthy of our time and effort.

If not, one you might like to try, as one of your first, 'The Practice of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence. Or if that seems daunting, you could start with a simple, modern presentation of his teaching in thirty daily meditations: 'Living in the Presence of God'.

Brother Lawrence was born Nicolas Herman in 1614 and brought up in a small village in Lorraine, Eastern France. He fought in the Thirty Years War, worked as a valet, and in his mid-twenties entered the Discalced Carmelite religious order in Paris as a lay brother - not having the 'right' background to actually take clerical orders. He spent most of his life working in the monastery kitchens and later, as he was getting older, mending sandals.

Brother Lawrence learned and taught about acknowledging and experiencing the presence of God even in the most mundane of everyday tasks - and he certainly had plenty of experience of those! He became known as a man of wisdom and was sought out for his spiritual guidance.

Here are a few of Brother Lawrence's quotes from Living in the Presence of God:

You can turn to God with absolute confidence, bringing to him all your failures and sorrows. Your God is infinitely generous.

He alone can make himself known as he really is. But we go on searching in philosophy and science, preferring, it seems, a poor copy to the original that God himself paints in the depths of our souls.

Your holiness does not depend on doing 'other' things, but in doing for God's sake what you would otherwise normally do for your own sake.

The grace of Brother Lawrence and the simplicity and depth of his spirituality have remained attractive throughout the centuries. In his Maxims he writes:

Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.

Practising the presence of God transformed Brother Lawrence and it can transform each of us today.


  1. Anonymous  

    19 May 2009 at 01:10

    I am getting soooo spiritually
    educated with your blogs Kath..thank you!!
    Lots of wisdom from the old blokes...lots Im sure from the women too but they werent allowed to process any of it in the same way....
    simple is best...we complicate things on so many levels..yet it is the simple things that give so much pleasure...the quiet times that enrich us...in the listening is the discovering etc....
    Col x

  2. Jackie Bellfield  

    19 May 2009 at 01:33

    thanks for reminding us about the classics Kath - eventually I may read some again....

  3. Kath Williamson  

    19 May 2009 at 21:20

    Hildegard of Bingen was a fabulous medieval Christian mystic who used to write letters telling off the Pope and the rulers of the day. I'll have to do some blogs on her, so you can see a few did manage to beat the system, Col!

  4. Anonymous  

    19 May 2009 at 23:29

    Total respect for any woman who tells the pope off!! look forward to reading about her x