Practicing His Presence & Letters by a Modern Mystic
Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach
Open your soul and entertain the glory of God and after awhile that glory will be reflected in the world about you and in the very clouds above your head.
What Father, do you desire I say?
What Father, do you desire this minute?
I am feeling God in each movement, by an act of will…
Every waking moment, surrendered, responsive, obedient, sensitive, pliable, lost in His love, that I now have the mind bent to explore with all my might, to respond to Jesus Christ as a violin responds to the bow of the master.
- “TIP” open a letter and read it with Jesus realizing that He smiles with us at the fun, rejoices with us in the successes, and weeps with us at life tragedies.
Concealment of the best in us is wrong. I disapprove of the usual practice of talking “small talk” whenever we meet, and holding a veil over our souls. If we are so impoverished that we have nothing to reveal but small talk, then we need to struggle for more richness of soul.
My part is to live this hour in continuous inner conversation with God and in perfect responsiveness to His will, to make this hour gloriously rich. Wait for His thoughts and ask Him to speak.
It is a will act. I compel my mind to open straight out toward God. I wait and listen with determined sensitivity. I fix my attention there…until that mind set upon the Lord is settled.
Money, praise, poverty, opposition these make no difference for they will all alike be forgotten in 1000 years, but this spirit which comes to a mindset upon continuous surrender, this spirit is timeless life.
How was this new closeness achieved? …cutting the very heart of my heart and by suffering.
Concentration is merely the continuous return to the same problem from a million angles…Can I bring the Lord back in my mind flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind?
…after an hour of close fellowship with God my soul feels clean, as new fallen snow.
Fellowship with God is something one dare not cover, for it smothers to death. It is like a tender infant or a delicate little plant, for long nurturing is the price of having it, while it vanishes in a second of time, the very moment indeed, one’s eye ceases to be “single.”
There is no defeat unless one loses God, and then all is defeat, though it may be housed in castles and buried in fortunes.
It is the spirit of greed which Jesus said God hated more than any other. It is so diametrically opposite to the spirit of God. God forever lavishes His gifts upon the good and bad alike, and finds all his joy in endless giving.
We shall not fall asleep for we tend to make or discover paradises for ourselves and these paradises begin to lull us into sleepy satisfaction.
…God slips out and is gone as soon as we try to seat some other unworthy affection beside Him…sincerity & insincerity are contradictions and cannot exist at the same time in the same place.
I let my tongue go loose and from it there flowed poetry far more beautiful than any I ever composed. It flowed without pausing and without ever a failing syllable for 1/2 hour.
Child, just as the rice needs the sunshine every day, and could not grow if it had sun only once a week or one hour a day, so you need Me all day of every day. People all over the world are withering because they are open toward God only rarely. Every waking minute is not too much.
I know that He makes my thought life beautiful when I am open all the day to Him. If I throw these mind windows apart and say “God, what shall we think of now?” He answers always in some graceful tender dream. I know that God is love hungry, for He is constantly pointing me to some dull, dead soul which He has never reached and wistfully urges me to help Him reach that unemotional, unsensible, tight shut mind.
There must be so much more in Him than He can give us, because we are so sleepy and because our capacity is so pitifully small…”God, what have you to put into my mind now if only I can be large enough?”
“wait for His thoughts and ask Him to speak”
Jesus walked along the road, day after day, “God Intoxicated” and radiant with the endless communion of His soul with God.
…just the privilege of fellowship with God is infinitely more than anything God could give. When He gives Himself He is giving more than anything else in the universe.
Knowing God better and better is an achievement of friendship. When two persons fall in love there may be such a strong feeling of fellowship, such a delight in the friend’s presence, that one may lose themselves in the deepening discovery of another person. The self and the person loved become equally real.
Worries have faded away like ugly clouds and my soul rests in the sunshine of perpetual peace. I can lie down anywhere in this universe bathed around by my Father’s Spirit.
If our destiny is to grow on and on and on…that means we need to have the shells broken quite frequently so that we can grow.
All I have said is mere words, until one sets out helping God right wrongs, helping God help the helpless, loving and talking it over with God. Then there comes a great sense of the close up, warm intimate heart of reality. God simply creeps in and you know He is here in your heart. He has become your friend by working along with you. So if anyone were to ask me how to find God I should say at once, hunt out the deepest need you can find and forget all about your own comfort while you try to meet that need.
The week with its failures and successes has taught me one new lesson. I must talk about God or I cannot keep Him in my mind. I must give Him away in order to have Him. That is the law of the spirit world. What one gives one has, what one keeps to oneself one loses.
The moment I turn to Him it is like turning on an electric current which I feel through my whole being.
The most important discovery of my whole life is that one can take a little rough cabin and transform it into a palace just by flooding it with thoughts of God. When one has spent many months in a little house in daily thoughts about God, the very entering of the house, the very sight of it as one approaches, starts associations which set the heart tingling and the mind flowing. I have come to the point where I must have my house It'sin order to write the best letters or think the richest thoughts.
It does not matter where one is, one can at once begin to build heaven by thoughts which one thinks while in that place. I have learned the secret of heaven building - anywhere.
Oh, if we only let God have His full chance, He will break our heart with the glory of His revelation. It is my business to look into the very face of God until I ache with bliss.
I choose to look at people through God, using God as my glasses, colored with his love for them.
- “TIP” As Christ does, try to see double – we see the person now and the person Christ longs to make them.
One need not tell God everything about the people for whom one prays. Holding them one by one steadily before the mind and willing that God may have His will with them is the best, for God knows better than we what our friends need, yet our prayer releases His power.
A man has not found his highest beauty until his brow is tinged with care for some cause he loves more than himself. The beauty of sacrifice is the final word in beauty.
God cannot get close when everything is delightful. He seems to need these darker hours, these empty hearted hours to mean the most to people. Is the cross the only doorway to the very heart of God?
I have noticed that when I forget other people I become fatigued rather quickly. When I am reminded of my purpose and start again holding people, seen and unseen before God, a new exhilaration comes to me and all the fatigue vanishes.
I remember how as I looked at people with the love God gave, they looked back and acted as though they wanted to go with me.
I must learn a continuous silent conversation of heart to heart speaking with God while looking into other eyes and listening to other voices.
This simple practice requires only a gentle pressure of the will, not more than a person can exert easily. It grows easier as the habit becomes fixed.
- Do you believe in God?
- Are you acquainted with God?
- Is God your friend? Do you love God?
The depth and intensity of the friendship will depend on the variety and extent of the things we do and enjoy together…Friends must walk together; they cannot long stand still together, for that means death to friendship and to life.
Everybody can learn to hold God. And when God is ready to speak the fresh thoughts of heaven will flow in like a crystal spring. Everybody rests…what a gain if everybody could rest in the waiting arms of the Father, and listen until He whispers.
- “TIP” Lord, put Your thoughts in my mind, tell me what to say.
We shall not become like Christ until we give Him more time.
It is not necessary for your tongue to speak nor even for any definite thoughts to light your mind, for I Myself am infinitely more important for you than anything I can give you, even the most brilliant thoughts.
So when thoughts do come, welcome them and when they do not flow freely simply rest back and love and grant Me the shared joy of being loved by you.
I too, by My very nature, am hungry with an insatiable hunger for the love of all of you, just as your love reaches out at your highest moments to all the people about you. So child, even I, God, whom people have foolishly feared and flattered for my gifts, I want love and friendship more than I want groveling subjects. So while we love each other, child, My share is as eager as yours.
Try to call Christ to mind at least one second of each minute. You do not need to forget other things nor stop your work, but invite Him to share everything you do or say or think.
We need to discipline our lives to an ordered regime.
We are so eager to judge people by their past and it is not fair. We are what we are now, not an hour ago, and what we are planning, not what we are vainly trying to forget.
God has plowed my heart tonight until it is tender and ready for something to grow.
Mansions have as many burning hearts as poor houses. The things which drag men down to selfishness must be wiped out, then hearts will become sore over infinitely larger things than selfish needs. They will learn to bleed for a world with the heart of Jesus. There will be more suffering than today, for only love knows how to suffer divinely.
All thought employs silent words and is really conversation with your inner self. Instead of talking to yourself, form the habit of talking to Christ. When evil thoughts come, say “Lord, these thoughts are not fit to discuss with You. Lord, you do the thinking, renew my mind by Your presence.
We lose Christ’s presence the moment our wills rebel. If we try to keep even a remote corner of life for self or evil, and refuse to let the Lord rule us wholly, that small worm will spoil the entire fruit. We must be utterly sincere.
Jesus, lover of my soul…we gain purity of thought, because when we are maintaining the presence of Christ, our minds are pure as a mountain stream every moment. All day long we are content, whatever our lot may be, for He is with us. It becomes easy to tell others about Christ because our minds are flooded with Him. Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.
No matter how long it’s been…begin anew with a smile. Every minute can be a fresh beginning.
When I have a troubled mind I do not consult anyone. But knowing, by the light of faith, that God is with me in all things, I am content with directing all of my actions to Him. In other words, I carry out my actions with the desire to please the Lord and then let all else come as it will.
Our useless thoughts spoil everything…We ought to reject them and return to our communion with God.
When outward business diverts me a while from the thought of God, a fresh remembrance coming from Him invests itself into my soul, and I am so inflamed and transported that it is sometimes difficult for me to contain myself.
Renounce everything that doesn’t lead to God. Accustom yourself to have a continual conversation with Him. In doubtful things, ask His assistance to know His will. Praise Him, adore Him, love Him, because of His infinite goodness and perfection.
Do common business without any view of pleasing men but purely for the love of God.
It is a great delusion to think that the time of prayer ought to be different from other times.
I continue and remain in God, praising and blessing Him with all my might, so that I might pass my life in continual joy. Yet I hope that God will give me more suffering that I may grow stronger.
We ought not be weary in doing little things for the love of God. God does not regard the greatness of the work but the love with which it is performed.
The whole substance of religion is simple faith, hope and love. This brings us to be united to the will of God…to be swallowed up in our unity to the will of God through faith and love.
I kept my mind in His holy presence. I recalled His presence as often as I found my mind wandering from Him.
I drove anything from my mind that was capable of interrupting my thought of God. I did this all the time, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my daily business.
“My God, behold me, wholly devoted to You. Lord, make me according to Your heart.”
God’s treasure is like an infinite ocean, yet if even a little wave of feeling, which lasts for only a moment, comes to us we are content. By such blindness we hinder God and stop the current of His graces. But when the Lord finds a soul permeated by His living faith, He is able to pour into that soul an abundance of His grace and favor. Such grace and flavor flow into the soul like a torrent, which, having been forcibly stopped from its original course, once it has found a passage, spreads and flows again, unleashing its pent-up flow.
Not to advance in the spiritual life is to go backward. Not to advance is to retreat.
We walk with Him because it is His desire and His purpose that we walk with Him. Because we love Him.
God will not permit Christians who desire to be devoted wholly and entirely to Him to take other pleasures except the pleasure of Him alone.
Serve the Lord in a holy freedom. Do our business faithfully, without being troubled, recalling our minds to God. If our minds wander we must recall them to His presence.
Recall Him to mind as often as possible. Pour our your adoration to Him. Pray for His grace. Offer Him your sorrows. Thank Him for the benefit of knowing Him.
Speak to Him with meekness, humility and love.
I realized that only out of pure love for him could I renounce all the other concerns and interests of the world.
Do not let your mind wander too far from the presence of God throughout the day. Become accustomed to recalling your mind to the Lord often. As you do this more and more you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in times of prayer and to recall it when it wanders.
Out of an active, overflowing love let us renounce all that is not Him.
How can we pray to Him without being with Him? How can we be with Him without thinking of Him often? How can we think of Him often without forming the habit of being in His presence?
We must know Him before we can love Him.
Seek the Lord as your strength, the strength to endure as much and as long as He has measured out for you. Happy are those who suffer with Him.
If we consider sickness to be a gift from God, an expression of His mercy and an instrument which He uses to bring us to complete salvation, then suffering is something very sweet.
The Lord does very often allow us to suffer a little…to purify the soul and to oblige us to continue in His presence or to turn us back into His presence (through suffering).
Talk to Him affectionately that He will conform you to His will.
God seems to have endless ways of drawing us to Himself. Perhaps His most unusual way is to hide Himself from you. Faith is the one thing, perhaps the only thing, which will not fail you in such a time. The very foundation of your confidence must be your faith.
It is paradise to be with the Lord under any conditions!
You must stop your spirit from wandering from the lord no matter what the circumstances are. You must make your heart a spiritual temple, a temple where you can go to adore Him incessantly.
How infinite the treasure is…the more one searches through it, the more he finds. The more he toils in it, the greater riches he gains. So let us not grow weary and stop until we have found that treasure and fully explored it.
The Lord is always near you. He is with you. For your part, never leave Him alone. It would be rude, don’t you think, to leave a friend all alone who had come to visit?
Do not forget the Lord. Think on Him often; adore Him continually. Live and die with Him. This is the glorious employment of a Christian. This is our profession as Christians. If we do not already do this, then we must learn to do it.
Oh my God, since You are with me, and I must now, in obedience to Your commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I ask You to grant me the grace to continue in Your presence. To this end make me prosper through Your assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections.
Brother Lawrence: his very countenance was edifying, with such a sweet and calm devotion appearing in it as could not but affect its beholders. It was observed that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen, he still preserved his recollection and heavenly mindedness. He was neither hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit.
He said, “the time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer…I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon my knees.”