Learning From Brother Lawrence – A Simple 17th Century Monk

Jesus knew – he understood how they were feeling – their doubts, their confusion…the abrupt ending of his life then his resurrection, then his last words…he knew their hearts. He spoke to their fears. How would it be once He was gone? What would they do? How would they manage?

 Before Jesus ascended into heaven he told those present- his disciples:
    “I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Highlighted later in the New Testament the write of Hebrews offers of God, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Jesus prepared the disciples ahead when He promised to send His Spirit to indwell each of those who believed (John 14:16-17; 16:7-11). Through His Spirit He would be present with them.

Present with them, with me now two thousand years later? Really? How do I live into this concept? How do I experience the Presence of Christ?

The writings of Brother Lawrence from the middle of the 17th century (1614-1691) offer one perspective on this question. An ordinary kitchen worker, he learned to live in God’s presence so consistently that whether amidst the clanging and clattering of the pots and pans or at the Lord’s Table he sensed God just the same.

He became a legend in France; people inquired about how any man could live with such peace and reality. Just shortly after his death some of his correspondence was made public. The letters had been written in his own hand. In his conversations and letters Brother Lawrence intimately shares his struggles to know and experience the love of God amidst surroundings of confusion, opposition and temptation.

 The Practice of the Presence of God has long been considered a Christian classic. Google Amazon.com and there are over 20 offerings of this work. Brother Lawrence, actually Nicholas Herman, would probably be shocked that these simple private letters were being marketed on the internet and used over the centuries to model a way of life that recognizes God’s constant nearness. It is interesting how God allows applications of His timeless truths to be preserved even centuries later. 

The devotional writer, Sarah Young, in her book Jesus Calling offers that thankfulness opens the door to the Presence of Christ. Thankfulness, built on a substructure of trust, is relevant in all circumstances. Cultivating a thankful posture cushions the impact of trials when they come against you. You can practice the Presence of Christ by practicing the discipline of thankfulness.

I am so grateful that we, as believers, have not been abandoned to fend for ourselves. We have been given the indwelling Holy Spirit and are never alone. The critical component for us now is to attend to His Presence. We can begin by being thankful, thankful for His Presence and thankful for the potential of cultivating a lifestyle like that of Brother Lawrence of practicing the Presence of God.



Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.


  • Lori S.


    Gail, thanks for this perspective. I love that you reminded me to be thankful and how important it is to practice the presence of God since His Spirit is always with me. Grateful to you for the encouragement.