Thursday, 4 October 2012

Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence was a lay brother in the Carmelite monastery in Paris during the seventeenth century.  He is known for his classic thoughts on Practising the Presence of God.  This book is actually a record of a series of conversations with him, and fifteen letters he wrote to a friend.
It is interesting that Brother Lawrence endured a period of four years when he was riddled with insecurity about his faith.  However, he emerged from this to a faith marked by great confidence and love.  He is highly regarded by many, including Tozer (whom I am trying to focus on).  One thing that he emphasises is the need to dwell upon God during everyday activities, his job in the monastery was in the kitchen.
The following thoughts are taken from The Practise of the Presence.
In one conversation he explained that there needed neither be art nor science in going to God, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, or for His sake, and to love him only.
In another conversation he explains that our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for God's sake, which we commonly do for our own.  He explained that the most excellent method he had found of going to God, was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing people, and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of God.  That 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 preformed.
In his letters he wrote,
'I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King; touched with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me.  The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastening me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favourite.'
'Sometimes I consider myself ... as a stone before a [sculptor], whereof He is to make a statue; presenting myself thus before God, I desire Him to form His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself.'
'Death follows us close; let us be well prepared for it: for we die but once ... Let us live and die with God.'
'Let us thus think often that our only business in this life is to please God, and that all besides is but folly and vanity.'
He writes to his friend, also in religious orders, about an illness saying:
'I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains, but I pray God earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases.  Comfort yourself with him who holds you fastened to the cross.  He will loose you when he thinks fit.  Happy those who suffer with Him: accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He shall judge to be necessary for you ... I wish you could convince yourself that God is often (in some sense) nearer to us, and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health ... Pains and sufferings would be a paradise to me while I should suffer with my God and the greatest pleasures would be hell to me if I could relish them without Him.'
'Let us fear to leave Him.  Let us be always with Him.  Let us live and die in His presence.'
'I hope from His mercy the favour to see Him within a few days' [Brother Lawrence took to his bed two days later and died within a week].

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