Brother Lawrence

Let the Power and Providence of God Change the Way You Practice Your Faith

Sunday Scripture and Book Talk

Winter has come to this country hill, and the trees stand gaunt and leafless, silent, even in the wind unless a strong gust rattles their branches or snaps a limb. Barren trees in mid-winter brought Nicholas Herman to faith, dramatically, in 17th-century France as he considered “that with a little time the leaves would be renewed, and after that, the flowers and fruit appear.” Struck to the heart by the power and providence of God, he joined a monastery and has been known forever after as “Brother Lawrence.”

The spiritual insights of Brother Lawrence are preserved in the classic book The Practice of the Presence of God, and I’ve been reading a few pages every night in this season of bare trees. The bulk of Brother Lawrence’s spiritual formation happened at the kitchen sink, for he was assigned the humble task of scrubbing pots and pans in the monastery where he lived out his career. Ever the cynic, I read his words about work and prayer and the power of God, and I wonder at the clear-eyed simplicity of the man’s worldview.

Two major themes run through his letters and his recorded conversations, and they challenge me to let the power and providence of God change the way I practice my faith.

1. All Work is Spiritual Work

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen… I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees.”

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

All work is spiritual work, and I keep reminding myself that God is no more impressed with me right now in the act of writing a devotional than he was this morning when I was packing my husband’s lunch. Moments when my hands are busy and my mind is free provide the perfect opportunity to commune with God, to review Scripture, and to pray for my people.

No matter what I am working on, God is most concerned with my heart. Am I serving wholeheartedly, “with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men?”

  • Is there a time in your day when you can turn mundane work into meaningful communion with God?
  • If you’re looking for encouragement in your own daily routine, be sure to listen to my conversation with Erin Michele on her podcast, Steps to Trusting. We went deep into the feelings around the conflict mums feel between our calling and our loving duty of providing a homey atmosphere for our people. CLICK HERE to listen!

2. Love Increases with Knowledge

The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.”

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Jen Wilkin asserts that we “cannot love what we do not know,” and I can’t think of a stronger argument for faithful and systematic Bible study. We come to know God through his self-revelation in Scripture, for he is not a God who hides himself or keeps us guessing. He is relational, and (amazingly!) desires relationship with his people.

Think of an example of a topic or a skill that became more interesting to you the more you practiced or studied it. Do you see how this could also be true of our love for God?

In Our Work and Through His Word

We come to know God intimately in our work and through his inspired Word, and this truth elevates both mundane chores AND spiritual disciplines! All legitimate work images the God Who Works and who invites us into His work. As Americans’ attitudes about work have changed throughout the pandemic, believers have the privilege of modeling a biblical attitude toward work, of demonstrating that both workaholism and The Great Resignation of 2021 are skewed.

Delighting in God’s providence as we clear clutter or prepare food and experiencing God’s power and presence through his Word will change your life. Best of all, whatever we do, if we work “as to the Lord,” we are working not only for Him but also with Him: we have the priceless privilege of practicing His presence every day.

Holding you in the Light,

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; in the noise and clatter of my kitchen I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees.” Note to self: This need not be unique to Brother Lawrence

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40 thoughts on “Let the Power and Providence of God Change the Way You Practice Your Faith”

  1. Michele, there are two tasks which I find “do not need my undivided attention – washing the dishes and ironing clothes. I find as I do either of these, I can think and pray. I am so grateful for the time need not be wasted on the mundane but becomes devoted to God.

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  2. I had that book back in college, but I don’t remember if I completed it. Even if I did, it would be good for a reread. I’ve often fallen into the trap of thinking of my “everyday” work as a bother to muddle through so I can get to the “important” stuff—but it can all be done as unto Him and in communion with Him.

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  3. Some days, I talk to God constantly in the most inopportune and opportune moments. Some days thanking, some days questioning,some days perplexing, and then I think…..are these good times? Your post today reaffirms that I’m not wrong. Glad he’s always by my side and listening. Thanks.

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  4. I read that book years ago, and your post makes me think I need to read it again. I can see how I need to use my mundane times as a time to pray for my people—and remember that our acts of service are for God—he sees and values them, even if those we perform them for don’t.

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  5. Brother Lawrence was right: “As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.” After decades of getting to know God through His Word, I can attest to loving Him more as the years pass, and wanting to know Him even more. I can’t imagine life without Him!

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  6. When I saw your image I was hoping you were going to talk about this book! It’s one of my favorites. I try to re-read it every few years but I’m way overdue. Great insight: “I keep reminding myself that God is no more impressed with me right now in the act of writing a devotional than he was this morning when I was packing my husband’s lunch.”

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  7. That sounds like a very thought-provoking book. It’s always good to be reminded that we are with God as much in the mundane as we are in the moments of prayer. The reminder that “you cannot love what you don’t know” is something that reminds me of how important relationship is to faith. Thank you for sharing with #MischiefandMemories

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  8. Michele, Brother Lawrence’s book is among my most favorite reads. I have gone back to it time and again. So much wisdom there! “All work is spiriual work” is my favorite of your points because that attitude from Brother Lawrence has transformed my life!

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  9. I can certainly agree with his kitchen sink musings. Definitely food for thought!

    Thanks for this. It elevates us beyond the daily grind when we look at our work this way.

    Blessings!
    Thanks for sharing at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop
    Laurie
    Ridge Haven Homestead

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  10. In Matthew 22 Jesus quoted Deuteronomy: And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. Brother Lawrence seemed to grasp this. Worship is much more than singing an emotional hymn on Sunday. Every cell of our being is a gift from Creator God and we are instructed to never, ever forget that. The good health to have a job and to be able to pack a lunch are gifts from Creator God. Dirty dishes to wash are the result of eating food which is a gift from Creator God. Marveling at a gorgeous sunset are gifts from Creator God. The entirety of our being should be in constant worship for all these gifts we do not deserve, yet, Creator God lavishes us with His good every minute of every day. He knows it. Our Father just wants us to remember to know it also.

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  11. Wise insights from you and brother Lawrence. Mundane tasks can bring down mood but seeing the benefit and even spiritual nature of work can bring it back up. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

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  12. This sounds like a wonderful book, Michele. It’s hard to imagine but I’m so grateful that God desires a relationship with us, and—as you say, “is not a God who hides himself or keeps us guessing.” That we can worship and commune with him as we do the most mundane tasks is so encouraging.

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