“I have quitted all forms of devotion and set prayers but those to which my state obliges me.”
— Brother Lawrence (1614 – 1691)
What Brother Lawrence says in the above quote is no objection to public or corporate prayer. It’s no objection to intercessory prayer. It’s certainly no objection to any conventional form of prayer. It’s actually no objection to any planned devotional pursuit. Those things we should continue to do.
But Brother Lawrence refers to something all Christians should want.
He refers to a state every human being should hunger for; a state that transcends our earthly state and circumstance, lifting us high upon heaven’s firmament, beyond pain and difficulty, even as we live this life.
It is a thing practiced; a thing never perfected; a thing that needs to be perpetual.
What I think Brother Lawrence is saying is prayer and devotion ought to move out from the will of God as it is discerned by our developed and constant God-consciousness.
Practicing the Presence of God means never being apart from the Lord in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Of course, we’re human so we’ll never be perfectly attuned, but our thoughts should be God-filtered and God-immersed. Out of such thinking comes the wellspring of life.
And the practice of such a life will enable us to live such a life more and more.
Let us consider revising and reframing our definitions of prayer.
Rather than promise someone we’ll pray for them, and not follow through, let us ask God to make us aware when and how to pray for them, then trust Him and obey Him when He puts that person and their situation on our heart’s mind.
Rather than schedule our devotions to occur at a certain time of day, in a certain way, as if it were a task to be ticked off, let us ask God to open our eyes to His Spirit’s action in our world 24/7. We may find our devotional practices blossom. We certainly ought to be reading voraciously. A disciplined approach to the devotional life is to be commended, but that approach should go with us throughout our whole day.
Let us be perpetually present with God in our thoughts. Let us endeavour to live now as if we were in heaven. Let us rise above distractions that are unbecoming of His Kingdom. Let us be His person, as He is our God. Let us, Lord, be with You, evermore, as You are evermore with us.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.