Companions have compiled a selection of the thoughts of Brother Lawrence, to use for reflection on each day of a month.
Day 1: We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God, by conversing all the time with him. We should feed our spirits with great thoughts of God, and from that derive great joy in being his.
Day 2: We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment… and find great contentment in doing his will.
Day 3: A little perseverance is needed at first to form the habit of conversing all the time with God, and referring all actions to him. However, after a little care one felt stirred by his love without any trouble.
Day 4: We ought to act very simply with God, speaking familiarly with him and asking for help in situations as they arise. God would not fail to give it.
Day 5: In the kitchen… he trained himself to do everything for the love of God, prayed at every juncture for grace to do his work, and made himself do small things for the love of God.
Day 6: All we have to do is love, and be happy in God.
Day 7: From his experience of God’s prompt aid, when he had some mundane business to do, he gave no thought to it in advance, but when it was time for action, he found in God, as in a clear mirror, what was needful to be done at the present moment.
Day 8: Complete abandonment to God was the sure way, and one on which there was always light to travel.
Day 9: In difficulties one had only to turn to Jesus Christ and ask for his grace, after which all became easy.
Day 10: His way of approaching God: it all amounted to one good act of renunciation of everything which we recognise does not lead to God, in order to habituate ourselves to an unbroken converse with him.
Day 11: It is only necessary to realise that God is intimately present within us, to turn at every moment to him and ask for his help, recognise his will in all things doubtful, and to do well all that which we clearly see he requires of us, offering what we do to him before we do it, and giving thanks for having done it afterwards. In this unbroken communion one is continually preoccupied with praising, worshipping and loving God for his infinite acts of loving-kindness and perfection.
Day 12: When we are in doubt, God will never fail to give light when we have no other plan than to please him and to act in love for him.
Day 13: Our sanctification depends not on some alteration in what we do, but in doing for God what we commonly do for ourselves.
Day 14: We must not grow weary in doing little things for the love of God, who looks not to the greatness of the deed but to the love. Some failure at the start should not dismay us. Habit comes finally, and that produces the action without our thinking about it, and with wondrous joy.
Day 15: Only faith, hope and love have to be nourished to become utterly dedicated to the will of God. All the rest is unimportant. All things are possible to him who believes, more to him who hopes, and still more to him who practises and goes on practising these three virtues.
Day 16: The goal we must set before ourselves is to be in this life the most perfect worshippers of God possible, as we hope to be through all eternity.
Day 17: If at times he is a little withdrawn from the divine presence, God immediately makes him aware of it in his soul to recall him…. His reply is a prompt obedience to these inner appeals, by a lifting of the heart, or by some words which love discovers in these encounters – “My God, here I am, all yours: Lord, fashion me according to your heart.”
Day 18: God has boundless treasures to give us, and a moment’s sense of devotion is enough for us. We are blind who so bind the hands of God, and we stem the abundance of his grace. When he finds a soul imbued with living faith, into it he pours grace on grace, a flowing stream, which, when it finds a new outlet, spreads wide, abundantly.
Day 19: We must go on working, for in the life of the Spirit not to go on is to lose ground. Those who have the mind of the Holy Spirit sail on, even when they are asleep. If the small ship of our soul is still beaten by the winds and the storm, let us awaken the Lord who sleeps in it, and he will soon calm the sea.
Day 20: To that end (that we may be God’s alone) the heart must be empty of all else, for God wishes to be its only possessor, and he cannot be its only possessor without emptying it of all that is not himself.
Day 21: There is not in the world a way of life more sweet nor more delightful than continual converse with God.
Day 22: One must serve God in a holy liberty, and do all one’s work faithfully, without distress or anxiety, calling the soul gently back to God so soon as we find it drawn away from him. It is needful to put all one’s confidence in God, and to unburden oneself of all other cares.
Day 23: It is not needful always to be in church to be with God. We can make a chapel of our heart, to which we can from time to time withdraw to have gentle humble loving communion with him. Everyone is able to have these familiar conversations with God, some more, some less, he knows our capabilities. Let us make a start.
Day 24: Grow accustomed, little by little, thus to worship him, to ask for his grace, to offer him your heart from time to time in the course of the day, amid your labours, or at any time you can. Do not fetter yourself with rules or special forms of worship. Act in faith, with love, and with humility.
Day 25: I do nothing else but abide in his holy presence, and I do this by simple attentiveness, and a habitual loving turning my eyes on him. This I should call the actual presence of God, or, to put it better, a wordless and secret conversation between the soul and God which never ends. It gives me, often, deep feelings of inner contentment and joy.
Day 26: We have a God infinitely good, and who knows what we need….. He will come in his own good time, and when you least expect him. Hope in him more than ever. Thank him for the favours he shows you…. be comforted in him, and thank him for everything.
Day 27: A small lifting of the heart suffices; a small remembrance of God, a movement of the heart’s worship, though in haste, are prayers which though brief, are yet most pleasing to God.
Day 28: Let us little by little habituate ourselves to this small but holy discipline. No one sees it, and nothing is more easy than to repeat often through the day these small acts of worship in the heart.
Day 29: My commonest attitude is this simple attentiveness, an habitual loving turning of my eyes to God…. Sometimes I think of myself as a piece of stone before its sculptor, from which he intends to make a statue. Setting myself thus before God I beg him to shape his perfect image in my soul, and to make me exactly like him.
Day 30: We must know before we can love, and to know God we must often think of him. And when we love him we shall think of him all the more, for our heart is where our treasure is. Let us often think about it, and think about it well.
Day 31: Remember, I pray, what I have urged upon you, which is to think often of God, day and night, in all of your tasks, in all your religious duties, even in all your amusements. He is always at your side…. Do not forget him. Think of him often. Worship him all the time. Live and die with him. That is the Christian’s lovely task, in a word, our calling. If we do not know it, we must learn it.
(Selected by S.M Beare, with permission, from “The Practice of the Presence of God”, a new translation by E.M.Blaiklock.
Published by Hodder & Stoughton 1981)