Tag Archives: Brother Lawrence

Experiential Spirituality: Peter Rollins (Part 7 of 7)

rollins book 2The post-modern pastor and theologian Peter Rollins (1973-Present) is the eleventh and final travel guide along this journey. Growing up in Northern Ireland during the post-Christendom shift of the late-20th century, Rollins embraced the mystical writings of Meister Eckhart and others [2012, xiv]. This led Rollins to promote having a sense of doubt, unknowing and uncertainty within the Christian walk as intellectual theology will never fully capture the Living God. Faith, to Rollins, is “analogous to the experience of an infant feeling the embrace and tender kiss of its mother” [2012, 1].

This does not mean that Rollins is against theology; rather he sees theology as “reflecting upon” the God who “grasps us” [2012, 1]. This embracement of the mystical experience of God all comes down to love. God is personally in love with humanity just as his followers are to be passionately in love with him and their fellow humans. This is a love that “cannot be worked up but is gained only as we give up” and let ourselves become a “dwelling place in which God can reside and from which God can flow” [2015, 75].

Rollins and Williams are fitting ends to this journey along the experiential spirituality path of the last five-hundred years. Both of them are helping the 21st century church retain and explore the value of experiencing the Living God within an intimate ongoing relationship. As St. Ignatius, St. Teresa, Blaise Pascal, Brother Lawrence, St. Thérèse, Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Herbert, and William Seymour taught before them, God is a living God who seeks a personal on-going relationship with his people. Rather than been content to believe a doctrine, however orthodox that doctrine is, or with having a  one-time born-again experience, the people of God are to follow the advice of St. James, the half-brother of Jesus of Nazareth, and “draw near to God” as he “will draw near to [them]” [Ja 4:8].



Rollins, Peter. 2012. How (Not) to Speak of God. Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press

Experiential Spirituality: Brother Lawrence and St. Thérèse (Part 3 of 7)

Brother LawrenceThe fourth travel guide is a contemporary of Pascal who lived in a Carmelite monastery in Paris. Brother Lawrence (c. 1614-1691) was an obscure monk who worked in the kitchen with no fanfare or fame. After his death, one of his friends would compile a short book full of conversations and letters from Brother Lawrence. This book provides travelers with a widow into the mystical life of Brother Lawrence where menial chores became an avenue to experience the Living God. Every day was filled with the “Divine Companionship” of the Living God [2003, 70]. This “Presence of God” was to him “an applying of our spirit to God, or a realization of God as present, which is borne home to us either by the imagination or by the understanding”  [2003, 77]. While the manner may have been different than what Apostle John experienced, the Living God “took shape before” [1 Jn 1:2, The Message] Brother Lawrence in everyday life.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) is another travel guide along the experiential spirituality path that had an increasingly personal relationship with the Living God. Starting from a very young age, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus met and spoke with the Living Creator as an intimate and personal friend. In remembering her first communion at age 11, St. Thérèse writes the following:

“Oh! How sweet was the first kiss of Jesus on my soul!…It was a kiss of love. I felt myself loved, and I also said, ‘I love You, I give myself to You forever.’ There were no demands, no struggles, no sacrifices. For a long time Jesus and poor little Thérèse had been looking at each other and understanding each other…That day it was no longer a look, but a fusion” [2006, 77-78, emphasis in the original].

This intimacy with Jesus continued throughout her life. Jesus was her first and only friend whom alone she loved and pursued [2006, 221.] No one and nothing else mattered to St. Thérèse, just Jesus. It is because of this single minded focus on experiencing God that she became saint with the Roman Catholic Church a mere twenty-eight years after her death.

To be continued….


Brother Lawrence. 2003. The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims. Grand Rapids: Spire Books.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux. 2006. The Story of a Soul. Trans. and ed. Robert J. Edmonson. Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press.

Thoughts On Praying “Without Ceasing”

ice treeIf you were to ask me what ‘prayer’ is, I would most likely tell you that it is a conversation with Jesus – a conversation that requires both listening and speaking. However this definition of prayer is beginning to crack and fall apart…..

St. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that we are to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

To “pray without ceasing”…. Obviously St. Paul is not telling us to go around talking all the time, or even listening for that matter (you can listen while asleep for one thing!).

So what is St. Paul talking about?

In the past, I’ve heard folks say that St Paul is telling us to pray in tongues – something that can be done simultaneous with other activities as when “my spirit prays…my mind is unfruitful” (I Corinthians 14:14). And to a certain extent I think this is correct….

Yet I’m thinking that St. Paul’s comment in 1 Thessalonians is also pointing forward to something more…

Brother Lawrence, a humble 1600’s monk, once wrote that:

“The time of business 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 posses God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees as the blessed sacrament.”

This is closer to what I think St. Paul is talking about…being aware of the Presence of God no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Somewhere along the line in the Vineyards circles I frequent, I heard it said that we are a “people of the Presence.” We don’t seek or run after signs and wonders, miracles, or even salvations and mercy ministries. We simply run after the Presence of God, running after Him no matter where He goes.

The people of the Presence; a people so love struck with Jesus that every breath inhales and exhales Him.

Pat Loughery, a fellow Vineyardite and lover of the ancient Celtic church, put it this way a few months ago:  

“God is present with me at all times and in a broad variety of ways, many of which I do not yet recognize.  God is present to me as I speak and attempt to listen, and as I pray from the Gospels and the Psalms, and as I gather with others in a time of celebration and worship.  And God is also present to me as I see the changing colors in the leaves of the trees along my commute to work, in the wisdom and humor I hear in my children, in the way my soul sings when I see a beautiful cloud or hear the beauty of a well-tuned engine.

“God is present with me when I recognize the transcendent in my everyday life.

“So I intentionally, mindfully pursue God in that everyday life.  I want to be aware of the beauty of the life that I live, whether that beauty comes from a Psalm or a child’s smile or reading a well-crafted phrase or seeing a trout on the rise.  When I’m aware of those transcendent moments, I see the veil between the mundane and the Holy being pierced beyond repair.

“If those moments of mindfulness simply turn me toward being thankful for the written word or a lovely smile or a beautiful fish, I’ve missed the ultimate point.  Instead, they should turn me toward their Creator who speaks abundantly and wittily and profoundly in these moments.

“If seeking and perceiving Presence is the point of prayer, then the activities of prayer can be profound or mundane.  Cooking can be prayer; tuning a bicycle can be prayer; attending a concert can be prayer; showering and breathing can be prayer.  If I recognize and sense and pursue God in these activities, they can be prayer-full.

“Prayer has become for me a challenge to open my spirit and my eyes to recognize the Holy in all that I see and experience.  Not all that I experience is Holy, but the Trinitarian God has so drenched this life in the colors of Presence that it is nearly impossible to miss that Presence.” (emphasis added)

How Is Your Work?

josh preachingThe Beginning of Work

•    Right after God creates man and women, He blesses them and gives them two commandments (Genesis 1:28)

o    “Be fruitful and increase in number”
o    “fill the earth and subdue it”
o    Family and work

•    Contrary to the thoughts of some, work is good
•    Humanity was created to be active – doing something

(audio file of sermon can be found here)

Influence Through One’s Work Life

•    It doesn’t matter what type of work you do

o    Housewife
o    Salesperson
o    Restaurant employee
o    Student
o    Farmer
o    Construction
o    Desk-jockey
o    Volunteer (food pantry, clothing closet)

•    Each one of use is doing something – some kind of work
•    And each one of use has an opportunity through our work life to bless people and share the message of the Kingdom to them

Don’t like work

•    I know that there are some people who hate their jobs

o    It drains them and is a pain
o    They do it because they need to eat

•    The truth is that each of us much work to live

Working for God

•    No matter if we like or hate our jobs, we are to work as unto Jesus

o    Colossians 3:15-17

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Continue reading How Is Your Work?