One Desire Only

brother-lawrence
In the book, The Practice of the Presence of God, the priest who interviewed Brother Lawrence, a kitchen worker in a seventeenth-century Paris monastery, wrote:

That in his trouble of mind he had consulted nobody, but knowing only by the light of faith that God was present, he contented himself with direction all his actions to Him, i.e., doing them with a desire to please Him, let what would come of it.



I’ve never worked in the kitchen of a Paris monastery (to the best of my knowledge anyway) but I have come to the same conclusion: When you live to please God instead of anyone or anything else, including your own desires, life becomes simpler and more gratifying. Any fear or anxiety about the results of your actions vanishes, because when you surrender to God and act out of pure intention and a loving heart, you are liberated from worrying about consequences. You trust that a wisdom greater than your own is at work and that the ramifications of your choices and actions will ultimately advance the highest good of everyone involved.

In this joyous state of surrender, life itself becomes a prayer. As Brother Lawrence’s interviewer wrote later in the book:

That the most excellent method he had found of going to God was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men, and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of God.

Ultimately, as this next excerpt illustrates, you can remain just as devoted in the midst of activity as you are in the stillness of prayer.

“The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.

It is all too easy to divert your attention away from God and get caught up in the demands of the world. That is why Brother Lawrence cautioned:

Let us thus think often that our only business in this life is to please God, and that all besides is but folly and vanity.

This approach to life and to God is simple but that does not mean it is easy. It requires discipline, perseverance and repetition. Here is how Brother Lawrence achieved his goal:

When he had finished he examined himself how he had discharged his duty; if he found well, he returned thanks to God; if otherwise, he asked pardon, and, without being discouraged, he set his mind right again, and continued his exercise of the presence of God as if he had never deviated from it. “Thus,” said he, “by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to it.”

Brother Lawrence elaborates further in this passage from one of his letters. Note the paradox that I myself have happily discovered: In surrender lies unimaginable freedom!

But when we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy presence, and set Him always before us, this not only hinders our offending Him and doing anything that may displease Him, at least willfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom, and, if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of. In fine, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of God rendered as if it were natural to us.

As Brother Lawrence’s life has demonstrated, when you surrender to God and live to please God alone, peace, love and joy become the dearest of friends. And that’s a nice place to live.





Click here to view all my posts about Brother Lawrence.






ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA

Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?

Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier

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SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.

Here is a three-minute video that introduces you to Phil and his book. Click here to order Sixty Seconds. Click here to ask Phil to add you to his e-mail list for updates on his blog and books.

Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.

Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.

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