Monday, July 8, 2013

Devotion for today: Practice the presence of God

Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

One of my favorite books is a little gem titled “The Practice of the Presence of God.” I carry it in my purse and read it whenever I find myself with time to kill. I pull it out, turn to any page and read. I always find a pearl to live by. The author, Brother Lawrence, was an amazingly simply monk who discovered the secret to a peaceful, happy life. He discovered how to live in the presence of God every waking moment and through the letters and conversations printed in this book, we can come to live the same way, by spending every moment in the presence of God. How do we do this? Here is Brother Lawrence’s thought on prayer:

The most effective way Brother Lawrence had for communicating with God was to simply do his ordinary work. He did this obediently, out of a pure love of God, purifying it as much as was humanly possible. He believed it was a serious mistake to think of our prayer time as being different from any other. Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities, just as our prayer unites us with Him in our quiet time. He said his prayers consisted totally and simply of God’s presence. His soul was resting in God, having lost its awareness of everything but love of Him. When he wasn’t in prayer, he felt practically the same way. Remaining near to God, he praised and blessed Him with all his strength. Because of this, his life was full of continual joy.

How beautiful is that? To live a life where every single thought, word and deed is pure and lovely enough to be a continual prayer to God every single minute of every single day. The result is a life full of continual joy!! Here is another of my favorite passages:

The most perfect union with God is the actual presence of God. Although this relationship with God is totally spiritual, it is quite dynamic, because the soul is not asleep, but powerfully excited. It is livelier than fire and brighter than the unclouded sun. Yet, it is at the same time tender and devout. It is not a simple expression of the heart, like saying, “Lord, I love You with all my heart,” or other similar words. Rather, it is an inexpressible state of the soul – gentle, peaceful, respectful, humble, loving and very simple – that urges it to love God, to adore Him and to embrace Him with both tenderness and joy. Everyone who is striving for divine union must realize that just because something is agreeable and delightful to the will does not mean that it will bring one closer to God. Sometimes it is helpful to disengage the sentiments of the will from the world, in order that it can focus entirely on God. For if the will is able in some manner to comprehend Him, it can be only by love. And that love, which has its end in God, will be hindered by the things of this world.

This is similar to what I spoke of in yesterday’s blog. If you want to feel God in your life, and you want to experience a taste of heaven in this life, you need to remove everything that keeps you from God. If what you watch, say and read is shameful to God, you will not feel His presence. You will be like Adam and Eve in the garden, hiding themselves from God because of their sin. Let’s just give it up and let God in. Brother Lawrence did, and his book is filled with the joy of a peaceful man.

If you need a good book to carry with you for life, pick up “The Practice of the Presence of God.” I have owned it for many, many years and never tire of reading the wisdom on each page. As one of my favorite hymns states, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!”

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