The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence

March 4, 2011 at 23:49 (Book Reviews, Highly Rated Books, Philosophy, Theology) (, , , , )


It’s hard to like books about saints. By their very definition, they’re going to be better than you, and they’re going to tell you to stop doing what you do and be more like them. Theologically, this is tough, and more than one reader will find themselves bemoaning their fate in the most Pauline of ways: “I do not understand my actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” All the while, the particular saint whose life you might be reading frowns down disapprovingly.

How refreshing, then, to find a dozen precepts – God likes you – talk to God – listen to God – spend time with God – God will help you – repeated and revisited through a sheaf of old letters and maxims, and presented with frank earnestness that is rare to see. There are no groundbreaking theological premises. Which means, there are, but they are premises so old and so rich that we have forgotten they are groundbreaking at all. In none of Brother Lawrence’s letters does he come off as supercilious or lofty. He makes allowance for immaturity, but never for sin – and he seems to be nodding understandingly throughout the whole book. It’s a great way to remind yourself that, yes; God is good.


  1. Nathan said,

    Which book did you read? I read the condensed version and loved it. I have yet to read to the full length version.

  2. J. Holsworth Stevenson said,

    I assumed that it was the full version, but it might have been condensed. It was only about a hundred pages long. The cover image was the same as the one included above.

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