Recently I spent some time with my great niece Isabella, whom I have only seen 3 times in her 6 years on this earth. We talked about silly things, ate some ice cream, sang a few children songs, made burping and other noises, and basically had fun. I asked her if I could take a picture of us together so I’d remember and we snapped a few selfies (no pouty lips). Since she did not have a camera, I asked how she would remember me. She put her hands in front of her face, as if holding a camera, and then said “click”. She then told me that she now had a picture of me in her head and when she wanted to think about me she would bring my picture into her mind and remember.
Brother Lawrence, a 17th Century lay brother, like Isabella, suggested that if we wish to remember something that pleases us we need to intentionally put them in our mind daily. In his writings “The practice of the presence of God” Lawrence suggests we should bring God to the forefront of our thoughts as often as possible so that we can talk with Him, praise and worship Him, and experience His comfort all our waking hours. He seemed to have perfected the idea of praying without ceasing as He once said “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer”. Two questions probably come to mind as you think about Lawrence’s suggestion: WHY and HOW.
WHY.? Lawrence realized that throughout the day we are bombarded with temptations and distractions that keep us from loving God and His creation as He desires. To combat this he chose to focus on God. He also knew that as a follower the Holy Spirit would be with Him to comfort, guide, and encourage Him and so He also choose to call on and rely on Him. He felt if we could keep God in our minds as we go about the day we will experience joy and possibly change the world around us. He was not naïve to suggest we would never be troubled but does say it will be easier to go through them with God in our thoughts.
HOW? Well, Lawrence did not find a cross and put his hands in front of his face like a camera and go CLICK so that he could recall that image throughout the day. He went to scripture to see God and remembered His words, actions and love. He did not kneel in prayer for 12 hours a day, nor did he hide in a corner muttering prayers to himself such that all others side stepped around him whenever they saw him. He sought God in solitude, in worship, and basically in all that was around Him. He had intentional private time of prayer, reflection and study but also reflected and prayed while he worked. As he scrubbed the kitchen pots of their grime, he prayed God would cleanse the souls of those he knew.
Brother Lawrence is really no different than you or I. He recognized that we all do not connect the same with God but strongly encouraged all to find our way to connect and keep God close. He suggested back then, and I suggest it applies today, that many followers are fooled by the idea that they can say a few prayers and read a few lines of scripture each day and then love God and our neighbours with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He would suggest that in is him time, not unlike today, many act as if they can get up from their 90 minutes or so of worship and then have compassion for their lost family, neighbours and colleagues. God chooses to be with those who believe and wants us to remember that image and bring it to our minds daily. The image of a loving, caring God wanting to spend eternity with those who believe.
Brothers and sisters, for your sake, will you intentionally make God part of your thoughts throughout the day. At first it will be difficult to try to think about Him all day but I can assure you that the experience is unique and when you begin, you will want more. Start as soon as you open your eyes and acknowledge His existence. When you commute to work or wherever, think about a bible story with people in it, then imagine where those you see in front of you fit into that story. Do they need your prayers, a kind word or even a smile? Start small but start.
When you bring God to your mind throughout your day, you will be blessed by the change that will come over. CLICK – can you sense God?