Nicolas was born into a poor family, with little opportunity for education. As soon as he was old enough, he enlisted in the army. He fought for his country until a serious injury to his sciatic nerve forced early retirement. The injury left him in considerable pain and unable to walk well.
He tried several jobs after the army but struggled to earn a living, so he entered a Carmelite monastery and became Brother Lawrence. Due to his lack of education, he was assigned to kitchen duty, cooking and cleaning for the large community.
He could have focused on his pain and physical disabilities. He could have grumbled at the hard labor he faced each day in the kitchen. Instead, Brother Lawrence became renowned for staying connected to God in everything he did, even as he cooked and cleaned.
Many would seek him out for spiritual guidance on finding rest in God and experiencing the presence of God. His teaching has inspired millions over the past 300 years to practice the presence of God.
The Practice of the Presence of God, a book of conversations with Brother Lawrence has been a best-selling Christian classic for centuries.
Spiritual Discipline of Practicing the Presence of God
Practicing the Presence of God is staying connected to God throughout the day. It’s noticing God in your life, keeping a continual conversation going with him, and developing a deeper relationship with him along the way.
God is not just in church on Sunday mornings, not just to be called upon in your hour of need, and doesn’t just pop into your life on rare occasions. He’s by your side every day, but he can be hard to notice. In our busy lives, we don’t always take note of his presence. We forget to include him in conversations. We relegate him to the sidelines of our lives, simply because we don’t recognize him day-to-day.
“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.John 5:39-40 (MSG)
How to Practice the Presence of God
- Decide a small prayer to say throughout the day to bring your mind back to focus on God.
- Use a prompt to remind you to pray and look for God – something you’ll see throughout the day. Each time you see this prompt (a red light, the sound of a new notification on your phone, an item in your house, a store you pass frequently as you’re out running errands, etc), say a prayer.
- Each time you’re interrupted, the phone rings, someone knocks at the door, pause and say “I’m here God” and open your heart to what God might be bringing to you.
- Spend a day giving thanks for everything – the sunrise, the families in the carpool line, the food on your table, the work God has given you, the blessing to provide for your family.
Spiritual Discipline of Rest
We weren’t meant to work all the time, yet many of us seem to rush around working day and night. We work long, stressful hours at our jobs. We work at home, raising families, doing chores, cooking meals. We volunteer at our churches and schools. We take on more and more until we’re run into the ground.
We’re exhausted – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yet, God tells us we can find rest in him.
Truly my soul finds rest in God;Psalm 62:1 (NIV)
my salvation comes from him.
Resting in God isn’t just taking a nap or taking the afternoon to sit around and watch TV. You might do those things, but it’s first about placing yourself in God’s hands and opening your heart to be refreshed by him.
When you feel worn down and exhausted, ask God what kind of rest do you need.
Are you physically exhausted? Do you need to take better care of your body and get more sleep? Are you doing too much and need to cut back?
Are you soul-tired and need to spend some quality time with God, perhaps in silence and solitude? Have you been doing too much for everyone else and need to take time for yourself?
Resting in God is opening your heart to allow God to renew your body, mind, and soul.
How to Practice Spiritual Rest
- Take a day off. No work, no studying, no errands or chores. Instead, go for a walk, read a book, do something relaxing that brings joy to your heart.
- Go to bed an hour or two early or arrange to sleep in one day. Give your body some extra sleep.
- Decide what a day of leisure and fun looks like for you. Take an afternoon or a whole day and do something just for you.
- Create a time each week when you set aside your to-do list and rest. Spend time in prayer and quiet, then do something relaxing. Let your family know this time is special and needed. Hold firm to keep this practice and not schedule over it.
How are you finding rest in God?
In the midst of your busy seasons, how can you take time to rest in God and focus on his presence?
How can you keep God at the forefront throughout your day, noticing him and being thankful for each moment he provides?
How can you rest your weary body and soul in God, finding his renewal and restoration?
Learn more about Spiritual Disciplines:
Interested in learning more about spiritual disciplines? Want to find another one that may be a better fit for you right now? Click here for more spiritual disciplines and how to use them to grow your faith. Also, below are some books I highly recommend on the spiritual disciplines. (These are affiliate links.)