In the New Testament, Jude (the half-brother of Jesus) urged us to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God…”
To keep ourselves immersed in the love of God is challenging. We live in a busy, complex and rather random world. Traffic isn’t the only thing that whizzes by. Days, months and years fly by too. Children grow up, way too fast.
Birthdays come and go and all of a sudden, we are looking and acting like our grandparents. It is very hard to stay committed to that single pursuit of keeping ourselves in the love of the Lord.
A Carmelite friar in the 17th century had that desire. Brother Lawrence (his real name was Nicholas Herman) was a cook in a monastery. And as he went about his duties of preparing and cooking food, he intentionally practiced staying focused on the Lord. Chopping, he thought of Christ. Serving the food, he meditated on the grace of God. Cleaning, he considered Jesus’ sacrifice.
His intentional spiritual focus was captured in a series of conversations and letters that we can read and study. (The book, Practicing the Presence of God is available to buy and a PDF version is available for free on line.)
The more I thought about Jude’s message, the more I thought about Brother Lawrence’s approach. He wanted to rise above his circumstances and the pettiness of his every day life. He was searching for real meaning and purpose. He wanted to develop an awareness of the presence of God. He saw it as a practical reality.
That might be a great pursuit for all of us this week.
Let’s start with a high view of both the providence and power of God. As the good brother remarked, “Good when He gives, supremely good. Nor less when He denies. Afflictions from His sovereign hand are blessings in disguise.”
With that backdrop, let’s start making a very practical plan for practicing His presence in our lives. Let’s start conversations with Him throughout our day. Let’s pray out loud in the car (people will just think we are on the phone). Let’s take a break at work, walk around the building and meditate on a single verse. We can gather our family at the dinner table and pray together for a friend or family member. And, finish our day by memorizing a verse that is important to us right now.
Living intentionally is important. Let’s practice the presence of God.