A teacher put Brother Lawrence’s beautiful book, The Practice of the Presence of God, in my hands many years ago. I instantly fell in love with it, and have spent the better part of over two decades trying to live its message. It is an invaluable resource for the saints.
But what I have found as the years have gone by is that – for as much improvement at “practicing” God’s presence as I have seen in my own life – I am still dreadfully bad at it. Easily distracted, prone to self-absorption, quickly drawn away by fears and worries.
It is tempting to believe at those times that our contact with God has been broken, and that, therefore, a better “practice” of the presence will restore that contact.
This is a lie that is repudiated on every page of Scripture.
We can no more lose our contact with God than we can stop being human. For God has made us and at every point of our lives sustains us. In him we live and move and have our being. And if we have surrendered to Jesus – we have all the more confidence on this front, for we have been made one with him – as Vine to branch.
The seminal moment of deep spiritual repose, I have found, is not so much learning to “practice” the presence (valuable as that may be), but rather learning that because God is who God is – the very Ground of our being, always benevolent, ever-concerned for us, infinite – God himself – if I may put it so – “practices” our presence, and does so perfectly and completely and continually.
The Psalmist’s words ring true for me. After waxing eloquently on his spiritual perception of the presence of God, he also grasps that human weakness makes it impossible for him to do perfectly. The regular stupor imposed by sleep makes it so that his conscious contact with God is interrupted. And still he says:
“When I awake, I am still with you” (Ps 139:18)…
For God’s contact with us is never broken.
God practices our presence.