Practices Necessary to Acquire the Spiritual Life

First.   The holiest, most universal and most necessary practice in the spiritual life is the presence of God. To practice the presence of God is to take pleasure in and become accustomed to His Divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly in our hearts with Him at all times, and at every moment, especially in times of temptation, pain, spiritual dryness, revulsion to spiritual things, and even unfaithfulness and sin.

 

Second.   We must apply ourselves continually to the end that all our actions may be little spontaneous conversations with God, coming from purity and simplicity of heart.

 

Third.   We must weigh all our actions without the impetuosity or impulsiveness that mark a distraught spirit. As we carry out our duties, we must work gently, tranquilly and lovingly with God, asking Him to accept our labor. Through our continual attention to God, we will crush the head of the devil and make his weapons fall from his hands.

 

Fourth.   During our work and other activities, and even during our times of reading or writing, even though they may be spiritually oriented — and yes, even more during our outward devotions and prayers aloud — we ought to stop for a short moment, as frequently as we can, to adore God deep within our hearts and take pleasure in Him, even though we might have to do this momentarily and in secret. Since you are not unmindful of the fact that God is present before you as you carry out your duties, and you know that He is at the depth and center of your soul, why not stop from time to time, whatever you are doing — even if you are praying aloud — to adore Him inwardly, to praise Him, to beseech Him, to offer your heart to Him, and to thank Him?

 

What could please God more than for us to leave all created things over and over each day in this way in order to withdraw and worship Him in our hearts? Not to mention the fact that this is the way to destroy self-love, which cannot exist except among us creatures. Inwardly returning to God in this way rids us of self-love without our being aware of it.

 

Finally, we can give no greater witness to God of our faithfulness than by continually renouncing and turning from the created things around us to take pleasure, even for a single moment, in our Creator.

 

This is not to suggest that you should withdraw inwardly forever. That is not possible. But prudence, the mother of virtues, will guide you. Nonetheless, I maintain that it is a common error among spiritual persons not to withdraw from outward things from time to time to worship God within themselves and to find comfort and pleasure in the peace of His Divine presence for a few moments.

 

This digression has been lengthy, but I thought that the matter demanded all this explanation. Let us return to our discussion of spiritual practices.

 

Fifth.   All this adoration must be done in faith, believing that in truth God is in our hearts, that we must worship, love and serve Him in spirit and truth, and that He sees all that is happening or will happen in us and in all creatures. We must believe that He is altogether independent of everything and that He is infinitely perfect and is worthy by His infinite excellence and His sovereignty of all that is in Heaven and on earth. We must believe that He can dispose according to His good pleasure in time and in eternity, and that we justly owe Him all our thoughts, our words and our actions. Let us see that we do it!

 

Sixth.   We must study carefully which virtues we need most, those which are the most difficult to acquire, the sins into which we often fall, and the most frequent and inevitable occasions of our falls. We must run back to God with complete confidence when an occasion for spiritual warefare arises, remaining steadfast in the presence of His Divine majesty, humbly worshipping Him and presenting our miseries and afflictions to Him, and asking Him lovingly for the help of His grace. By doing this, in God we will discover all virtues without having any ourselves.

— Brother Lawrence

6 thoughts on “Practices Necessary to Acquire the Spiritual Life

  1. “Practicing the presence of God” by Brother Lawrence is one of my all time go to books. I love how this humble man just reminds us that we are in God’s presence at all times and should always strive to be aware of that. Once again, Kitsy, great reminder. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took a meandering path of thought to get to me but He reminded me of the book. I had not read this part before but He nudged me until I found it. He and it rescued me yesterday.

      Liked by 1 person

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