The ideas expressed here may be controversial for some - they're intended to be.
The idea is to get you thinking about why you believe what you believe, and generate a bit of discussion.
Many blogs offer devotional inspiration, I want to offer theological inspiration.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Prayer is a "Deception"

Brother Lawrence, a French Lay Brother serving in a Carmelite Monastery in the 17th Century discovered the secret of living always in the presence of God. He called it, "The Practice of the Presence.” As a lay brother he worked in the kitchens and as a cobbler doing the kind of day-to-day tasks which may have otherwise kept the monks from their prayers and studies. Though he loved God very deeply this meant that he was not able to spend long periods in prayer as the monks did. Instead he found that, by keeping his love for God awake in his consciousness all the time he was doing his daily duties, he was able to live continually in the presence of God.
"It is only necessary," he says, "To realise that God is intimately present with us, to turn every moment to him and ask for his help.”
Lay brothers like Brother Lawrence were under limited vows and had to take occasional retreats and periods of withdrawal. The reason for this was that their menial tasks were regarded as a distraction from prayerful living, so it was thought that they needed these quiet days to focus their lives on God once more to regain a sense of his presence. Brother Lawrence, however, found these retreats to be an unnecessary burden. For him, even his most demanding task didn't keep him from being close to God
He went further, claiming that the idea that retreats and set prayer times (like daily prayers) are essentially different to the little prayers we say in brief moments, is a deception. Whether we are deep in prayer or totally absorbed in work or leisure, God is no further away, but how often do we rate his closeness by the degree or amount of prayer that we are capable of?


  1. I think that one's perception of prayer is entirely subjective, dependent on one's personality type, how we are at a particular moment, what is happening in our lives and so forth. Bro. Lawrence was right - for himself, for me using the Northumbria Community daily prayer liturgy is often right, but not every day!


  2. For me having a dedicated prayer time is no good as my mind is everywhere but on prayer. I do occasionally pray when I work but it is generally about what I am doing, and not about things outside my experience.

  3. I've written a book, which is due out early next year. It's aimed anyone who has ever found having a daily quiet time difficult or unhelpful, and offers a genuine, real alternative.
    Website to follow - watch this space!

  4. Tim- heard you on Premier. Good stuff. I have a spirituality blog Groschblog. Based East London. I write resources for spiritual directors/clergy. I don't twitter but can send you a few things by email or hard copy. You might find interesting. Have a look at my blog first- might give you a flavour. Best wishes Mal Grosch