The Practice of the Presence of God
(Nicholas Herman 1605–91)
Compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort
The Practice of the Presence of God is a book of collected teachings of Brother Lawrence (born Nicholas Herman), a 17th-century Carmelite monk, compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort. The compilation includes letters, as well as records of his conversations kept by Brother Lawrence's interlocutors. The basic theme of the book is the development of an awareness of the presence of God.
About Brother Lawrence
The first conversation in the book recounts Brother Lawrence's conversion to Christianity at 18 years old: "...in the winter, seeing a tree stripped of its leaves, and considering that within a little time, the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear, he received a high view of the Providence and Power of GOD, which has never since been effaced from his soul."
At the age of 24, Brother Lawrence joined the Discalced Carmelite order in Paris, taking the religious name "Lawrence of the Resurrection". He spent the rest of his life with this order, dying on 12 February 1691. During his time as a monk he was much preoccupied with the cultivating a keen sensitivity to the presence of God in everyday life.
The text attempts to explain Lawrence's method of acquiring the presence of God. A summary of his approach can be gleaned from the following passages. "That he had always been governed by love, without selfish views; and that having resolved to make the love of GOD the end of all his actions, he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method. That he was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of GOD, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts." "That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually, and referring all we do to Him; we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty."
- The Practice of the Presence of God (full text and audio), Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
- The Practice of the Presence of God (free online text), Project Gutenberg.
- The Practice of the Presence of God (audio book), Librivox.
- The Practice of the Presence of God (free online text).
- The Practice of the Presence of God (online book), The corner stone.