Book Review w/ J. Curtis | Brother Lawrence & God’s Presence

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Title: The Practice of the Presence of God and The Spiritual Maxims
Author: Brother Lawrence
Publisher: Digireads
Year: 2016
My Genre Category: Christian Living/Disciple

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Synopsis (5/5)

Certainly, the Monastic life is not for most people! Brother Lawrence also had struggles with this life, and especially the job he had – managing the kitchen and making meals! However, he made the most of the opportunity and simply focused on maintaining, as much as he could, an intentional gaze on the presence of God with him. In this work, he tried to explain his ups and downs in this process and share why he thought this the utmost goal of all believers, at all times. There certainly were aspects of the work where I struggled, for various reasons, however, the overall goal as Brother Lawrence presents it – focusing on God – is certainly an area where I have deficiencies (to put it nicely). In that regard, it was an important book to read.

Content/Writing (3/5)

There were times when I had difficulty in following Brother Lawrence’s thought. However, I am not certain if it was a lack of writing skills or a deficiency in intelligence on my part that made it difficult. Probably a combination of both. As such, I’m putting this in the middle of the road. Overall, however, the message is conveyed well and you can certainly takeaway the most valuable pieces. Lastly, hearing some of this struggles that he walked through I found encouraging in this current stage of my life.

Design/Font/In Hand (2/5)

This has probably been one of the least enjoyable books I have interacted with in a while. I do really like the cover design, but the layout, font, etc. was not too enjoyable to me. To be fair, it wasn’t really designed to be either. I do think the publisher did what they set out to do which was to make a simple and cheaper version easily accessible. There is much in that regard that I appreciate. Also, being overly simplistic is probably a great choice for a Monastic read! Nonetheless, if left me wanting for more.

Impact (4/5)

I have really been going through some challenges lately! It’s been tough, but also rewarding in how it is shaping me – I sincerely hope! – to be more like Christ. With this said, I would say this had a good impact on me. I was handed this book a few years ago, and I’m grateful I got around to it in this season. Focusing on the presence of God and living by faith certainly have been two important themes in my life over the last few years, but in particular, this last year.

Recommend (4/5)

For Christians, I would say this could be a great read. What’s nice is it has some challenging questions and probes well into how we are, and perhaps should be, living. It’s also a short read that you can plow through in a relatively quickly. For me, I am not ready to consider it a necessary read, but it is certainly a good perspective to wrestle with. I’m curious to see – if I read it again down the road – if my perspective on that changes.

Quotes

“That this trouble of mind had lasted four years; during which time he had suffered much. But that at last he had seen that this trouble arose from want of faith; and that since then he had passed his life in perfect liberty and continual joy. That he had placed his sins betwixt him and God, as it were, to tell Him that he did not deserve His favors, but that God still continued to bestow them in abundance.” p. 8

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God and The Spiritual Maxims (Digireads, 2016), 8.

“I say again, let us enter into ourselves. The time presses, there is no room for delay: out souls are at stake. I believe you have take such effectual measures that you will not be surprised. I commend you for it; it is the one thing necessary. We must, nevertheless, always work at it, because not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord, who reposes in it, and He will quickly calm the sea.”

Lawrence, 20.

“He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of the soul and body.”

Lawrence, 25.

Overview (3.6/5)

I would certainly recommend this book to Christians seeking to deepen their walk with God, but again wouldn’t consider a necessary read for me just yet. However, it does have some great nuggets in it. Hopefully I can come back to this one in a few years and see how it has grown on me.

Blessings!

© J. Curtis, 2022

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