The most incredible joy

Cathedral of Holy Spirit, Minsk, Belarus.
Cathedral of Holy Spirit, Minsk, Belarus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Practice the Presence of God is a book written by a man who interviewed Brother Lawrence to find out how he was able to have such incredible joy in every situation of life. I once met an old man in China who had been jailed for more than 20 years for his faith. I expected him to say that it was great suffering, but instead he said that those years with Jesus were very sweet, like a honeymoon. He had plenty of time to practice the presence of the Spirit of God, and received incredible joy from it, similar to Brother Lawrence.

I have rewritten the first chapter of Practice the Presence of God in my own words because it was written hundreds of years ago in French and the only English translation I could find is difficult to read.

Practice the Presence of God

I met Brother Lawrence on August 3rd, 1666. He told me that God had done him an incredible favor by converting him into a relationship with God at the age of 18. It happened one winter, when he saw a tree that had lost all its leaves during winter. But he realized than in a relatively short time, new leaves would begin to bud and then flowers and fruit would appear. This gave him a very high view of the loving guidance and power of God which he remembers very clearly to this day. It is etched in his memory, his soul. This epiphany, this revelation had set him loose from the world and kindled such a love for God that it had not become less at all in forty years.

He had been a footman to Mr. Fieubert, the treasurer, and that he was a very large, awkward fellow who broke everything.

He wanted to work in a monastery, thinking that it would be a punishment for his faults and sins, and in that way be a sacrifice to God. He wanted to give up the pleasures of life, but he found nothing but satisfaction at the monastery and felt rather disappointed that he did not suffer for God the way Jesus suffered for us.

He said we should establish within ourselves a sense of God’s presence by continually talking with Him in prayer and that it was shameful to stop praying and to spend time thinking of  worldly things that were of no lasting importance.

He said we should feed and nourish our souls with high thoughts and meditation of God which will yield us great joy in being devoted to Him.

That we ought to enliven and build our faith. That is was unfortunate that we had so little faith and that instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct; people amused themselves with trivial devotions which changed daily. That it was faith that is the true spirit of the way of Christ, and that it would bring us a high degree of perfection.

He said that we should totally and completely give our lives to God, not only the worldly life but also the spiritual. He said that we should seek happiness only one way—to fulfill His will and therefore the more we fulfill His will, the happier we become. And it doesn’t matter that He sometimes leads us through suffering and sometimes through easy times, all are the same to a soul who is totally devoted to God. [Since the fabric of the Holy Spirit is woven together with the fabric of our spirit, anything we do to serve God, or even sacrifice to God, we are doing partly for ourselves anyway. It is impossible to serve God without helping yourself.]

He said that sometimes a prayer time of an hour might seem dry and boring, but if we continue to pray we eventually achieve a breakthrough and find that every minute is a precious blessing. [I remember a summer when I was going through very difficult times and began to pray an hour each evening, then two hours, then sometimes even three, and those times became one of the very best times of my life. The suffering turned to joy, and it was the best joy I ever experienced. Once you experience the incredible feeling of being in unity with the Holy Spirit, you realize it is the best thing that ever happened to you. It is a taste of heaven here on earth. More about that summer here


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