Brother Lawrence, was born Nicholas Herman around 1610 and died in 1691. Nicholas was a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery, and remembered because of his book: “The Practice of the Presence of God.”
Nicholas’ poverty forced him into joining the army fighting in the 30 years war, so that he could get meals and a small stipend. This is when Herman had an experience that set him on a unique spiritual journey:
In the deep of winter, Herman looked at a barren tree, and for some reason he understood for the first time the extravagance of God’s grace and the unfailing sovereignty of divine providence…he said, that leafless tree “first flashed in upon my soul the fact of God,” and a love for God that never after ceased to burn. Jesus is the only way to God.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”—John 14:6
Sometime later, an injury forced his retirement from the army, and after a stint as a footman, he sought a place where he could suffer for his failures. Nicholas joined the Discalced Carmelite Priory in Paris at the age of 24, as Brother Lawrence. He spent almost all of the rest of his life within the walls of the priory, working in the kitchen for most of his life and as a repairer of sandals in his later years….his character attracted many to him.
He was known for his profound peace and many came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom that he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, was compiled into a book after Brother Lawrence died, “The Practice of the Presence of God”. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with John Wesley and A. W. Tozer being among those who recommended it.
I remember reading Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. It sounds so spiritual to practice the presence of God. I never really understood what the book was saying or how to do what he was talking about.
I didn’t know that Brother Lawrence was a Carmelite friar of the 17th century. I didn’t stop to think that the only way I can get into God’s presence is through Jesus…there’s nothing I can do. I didn’t even find the word “practice” in the Bible. How can he talk of loving God without mentioning Jesus?
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”—John 20:31
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”—Romans 5:1
“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
“As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”—Psalm 68:2
“The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.”—Psalm 68:8
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”
“For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”—Deuteronomy 4:24
“For our God is a consuming fire.”—Hebrews 12:29
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”—1 Peter 3:18
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
—1 John 4:10
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”—Acts 17:27