Presence Practice

There was once a man named Nicholas Herman, who worked in the food service industry and made quite a name for himself. He never owned a restaurant, never wrote a cookbook or shared a recipe on Pinterest, and never had a show on the Food Network. But he was somewhat of a big deal nonetheless. 

Herman was what you might call a short-order cook and bottle washer. In time, he became deeply dissatisfied with his life, and was a chronic worrier. One day he was looking at a tree, and after a while he came to the same conclusion that the psalmist did in Psalm 1: that the secret of the life of a tree is that it remains rooted in something other than and deeper than itself. He decided from then on to make his life an experiment in what he called a “habitual, silent, secret conversation of the soul with God.”

He is known today by the nickname given to him by his friends at the monastery where he worked in the kitchen: Brother Lawrence. He never gained fame or any semblance of “success” in his lifetime. He stayed in the background, usually working in the kitchen, doing his work behind the scenes while carrying out his experiment. 

The people around him found that rivers of living water flowed out of him that made them want to know God the way he did. ” The good brother found God everywhere,” one of them wrote, “as much while he was repairing shoes as while he was praying with the community.”

After Lawrence died, his friends put together a book of his letters and conversations. It is called Practicing the Presence of God, and is one of my all time favorite books. It is thought to be, apart from the Bible, the most widely read book of the last four centuries.  This monastic cook and dish washer likely out-sold novelists J.K. Rowling, John Grisham and Tom Clancy put together. 

The thesis of Brother Lawrence’s experiment that made its way into his letters and eventually became a best-seller was simple: you can experience the presence of God anywhere at any time. You can turn the mundane tasks of your day into expressions of joy and worship of the Almighty by simply making the conscious choice to practice His presence all the day long.

I am doing my best, as I seek to “go deeper” in 2019, to give the good brother’s experiment a try, and I recommend you do the same. Ask the Lord to make His presence real to you, and allow Him to turn whatever you’re doing into an opportunity of glorious service for Him. It may not come easy, in the midst of our busy world full of distractions, but I promise you’ll get better at it–and experience Him more fully–if you’ll just “practice.”

I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
–Pastor Ken