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Devotional: Prayer and Brother Lawrence

by Leigh Ann Dilley on March 08, 2024

Many people tend to make prayer and their search for God more difficult than it needs to be. Some are even afraid of it. Personally, I love simplicity and strive not to make things difficult or complex.

Brother Lawrence's approach to prayer was described as "common sense" and "utterly simplistic." He was born to a poor French family in 1611 and was named Nicholas Herman. Even though he received no formal education, he was brought up in the Christian faith. In his youth, he once pondered about a dormant tree and thought about how it would come to life again in the spring. He often pondered how Christ makes everything new. Perhaps this is why the Carmelite Monastery in Paris where he lived and worked for 50 years gave him the name Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection.

Lawrence stated he read many books on how to live a spiritual life, but they only confused him. He wanted to belong wholly to God and to give up everything that was not of God. He developed his own prayer style that centered around worshiping God and focusing only on Him. When his mind wandered, he brought it back to God each time, driving away any thought that pulled him from God. He struggled with this strategy for about 10 years. Just when he was ready to "give up" this meditative prayer practice, something clicked in his soul, and he felt a profound inward peace. Ever since, he has described his walk with God as one of simple faith, humility, and love, turning work and everything else he did into a heavenly experience for the glory of God. Brother Lawrence said it's harder to offend God when we remain in His presence. It also brings us into familiarity with God. As we practice this type of prayer and presence, they become habits.

Lawrence called himself the "servant to the servants of God." For over 50 years, Brother Lawrence served in the monastery kitchen where he thought of every task as an act of serving God; from peeling potatoes to sweeping floors to washing dishes. He blended work with prayer so much so that the time he set aside for prayer varied little from his day-to-day tasks in the kitchen.

What does Brother Lawrence have to do with us for our relationship with God? Many scriptures come to mind. The first one is Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." 

Brother Lawrence was a good example of someone who sought God with all his heart. Another scripture is James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

Brother Lawrence made being near to God his lifestyle. God promises to be found whenever we search for him, but first, it takes an intentional effort on our part to pursue God. If the goal is to learn how to walk through life in the presence of God, prayer is vital! It is our communication language with our Savior. Only a relationship with Jesus can teach us to rejoice in the Lord always because the Lord is with us, therefore we do not need to be anxious about anything. Through prayer, we can experience the peace of God within our hearts and minds. Brother Lawrence knew this peace.

John 15:5 says, "I am the vine, you are the branches...apart from me, you can do nothing." Jesus himself says we need Him to accomplish anything. Why not make it a daily habit to look for Jesus and please Him in all that we do? Brother Lawrence described an intimacy with God that is so intimate — or perhaps private — that he had difficulty putting it into words. An increased awareness of God's presence will benefit all of us, especially while performing the most menial tasks.

Women's Ministry continues to invite you to an hour of Silence and Solitude each Thursday at 11:15 a.m. in Room 214. We practice various types of silence before God. Lessons on Brother Lawrence and many other mystics have been shared as examples of different types of contemplative prayer. I hope you will join us in Silence and Solitude. 

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