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Posted June 19, 2011

Book: Practicing the Presence of the Living God: A Retreat with Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Author: Jean Maalouf
ICS Publications, Washington, D.C. 2011. Pp. 91

An Except from the Jacket:

This book intends to be a guide for a spiritual journey. It can be used in a retreat center, at home, or at work when you are able to secure a few moments of quiet solitude and silence. It is structured around seven days — the number of days normally used for a spiritual retreat. However, the seven days can be reduced to a weekend if this is all the time you can afford. It can also be spread to a much longer time if your circumstances do not allow you to have this amount of hours at the same time. All that you need is your total self. God is totally present to you and you should be totally present to God also. It is based on Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection’s little book The Practice of the Presence of God. The content of Brother Lawrence’s book encompasses a lifelong application that is life changing. Its message is transformative in its utmost clarity and simplicity because it reveals the heart and soul of everyone’s life purpose and work — to live joyfully in the presence of God no matter what our circumstances are.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Loneliness, emptiness, and brokenness of heart can be frightening. Indeed, they are. But they can be looked at as gifts from God too. They can be opportunities for insight and growth. They can be seen as a call deep within our being telling us what we should do and what we should not do. But we have to listen. To listen efficiently requires a certain degree of silence — both within and without. We live in a noisy world. We fill our world with noise maybe because we are afraid to face ourselves. In his book, Beginning to Pray, Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom wrote these insightful lines about the threat of silence:

Try to find time to stay alone with yourself: shut the door and settle down in your room at a moment when you have nothing else to do. Say, “I am now with myself,” and just sit with yourself. After an amazingly short time you will most likely feel bored. This teaches us one very useful thing. It gives us insight into the fact that if after ten minutes of being alone with ourselves we feel like that, it is no wonder that others should feel equally bored! Why is this so? It is so because we have so little to offer to our own selves as food for thought, for emotion and for life. If you watch your life carefully you will discover quite soon that we hardly ever live from within outwards; instead we respond to incitement, toe excitement. In other words, we live by reflection, by reaction. Something happens and we respond, someone speaks and we answer. But when we are left without anything that stimulates us to think, speak or act, we realize that there is very little in us that will prompt us to action in any direction at all. This is really a very dramatic discovery. We are completely empty, we do not act from within ourselves but accept as our life a life which is actually fed in from outside; we are used to things happening which compel us to do other things. How seldom can we live simply by means of the depth and the richness we assume that there is within ourselves. (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1970, pp. 67-68).

Table of Contents:

Day 1. “I will give your rest”
Day 2. “There is need of only one thing”
Day 3. The “aha” moment: getting a life now
Day 4. God’s policy and our response: total involvement
Day 5. Practicing the presence of God: a way of life
Day 6. Growing in gratitude
Day 7. Living the meaningful life
Suggestions for practicing the presence of God