I became aware recently that many of my daily activities were being experienced as habitual, mechanical, and just plain mundane. In the midst of a dull mindset I knew intervention was needed. I believe by the providence of God, I was also simultaneously exposed to some excerpts from a book Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection served as a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris in the 1640’s. Christians commonly remember him for the intimacy he expressed concerning his relationship to God as recorded in a book compiled after his death, Practicing of the Presence of God.
One of the most inspiring principles within the book is the idea that Christian mindfulness and consecration is not confined to what we offer God in worship. Brother Lawrence challenges us to offer everything we do as a gift to God—and thus to offer it up with excellence—and to do it “unto His name.” In other words we offer up even our mundane work to Him and thank Him afterwards for the privilege of having done it for His sake. This offering up excellence, praise, and dedication in our most common tasks effects the way we wash dishes, plant gardens, or mow the grass. Brother Lawrence did not separate his devotional moments from his work moments but sought to offer up his whole day—including all his activities with a loving mindfulness of the presence of God.
He said that “During my work, I would always continue to speak to the Lord as though He were right with me, offering Him my services and thanking Him for His assistance. Also, at the end of my work, I used to examine it carefully. If I found good in it, I thanked God. If I noticed faults, I asked His forgiveness without being discouraged, and then went on with my work, still dwelling in Him. Thus, continuing in the practice of conversing with God throughout each day and quickly seeking His forgiveness when I fell or strayed, His presence has become as easy and natural to me now as it once was difficult to attain.” Brother Lawrence Practicing the Presence of God.
For Brother Lawrence—Christian spirituality is an attentive mindfulness of Christ’s presence in all things. And included in this mindfulness were the following principles…
To begin each day doing our best to prayerfully recognize and appreciate God’s ongoing, intimate presence with us;
To address ourselves to God every waking moment throughout the day, continually calling on him for wisdom, discernment, and grace (empowerment) to do his will; To offer absolutely everything we do as a gift to God before we act; To pause inwardly in order to give thanks to God for his empowering assistance after we’ve performed each action as unto him;
To continually praise, adore, and love God even as we go about our daily business;
To periodically evaluate how well we’ve been doing at remaining mindful of God’s presence;
To trust in God’s forgiveness when our attempts at practicing his presence have been less than satisfactory, forgiving ourselves and pressing on with the resolve to do better in the future. In summary for Brother Lawrence no task in life was too trivial for he was able to transform the mundane chores of the kitchen and garden into glorious experiences of heaven. He learned to blend work with prayer. I was challenged to do all of my work with a sense of empowerment—offering even the common task as a gift to God. What I have noticed is that this mindset has caused me to do all things with excellence and completion in mind. In other words be the labor great or small. Do it well or not at all. Jesus said in John 17:4 “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”