Brother Lawrence griped because he had to work in the monastery kitchen. He thought he had to work in the kitchen because he was being punished for something. That made him resentful. The more he resented his circumstances, the grumpier he got. And, the grumpier he got, the less the other monks wanted to be around him. He thought of his life as one endless cycle of working and sleeping, with nothing in between.
Until one day, when he broke down in tears. He started out feeling sorry for himself, and ended up praying. He told God all his troubles and then he added, “Lord, I have done many bad things. I know You must punish me.”
But God answered, “I forgave your sins the very first time you asked. My son Jesus died on the cross so that you would not have to be punished for your sins. Why do you keep worrying?”
Brother Lawrence’s burden of guilt was lifted and he felt peaceful for the first time in a very long time. That night, he slept soundly and woke up with a new attitude. That next day, he spent his time in the kitchen thinking about happy things and thanking God for loving him.
His fellow monks noticed a change in him and asked him, “Why aren’t you grumpy anymore?”
He said, “God changed me.” Then, he went on to tell the other monks how he kept thinking about good things and giving thanks to God for blessings when he had to do a task he didn’t really want to do. He rejoiced in the presence of God in his life.
Word spread that Brother Lawrence was a changed man. People wanted to talk to him. They came to him for advice and wanted to know his secret: He said it was called “the practice of the presence of God.”
Later, after his death, one of Brother Lawrence’s friends wrote a book about Brother Lawrence. It was called, appropriately enough, The Practice of the Presence of God.
This Bible verse from Phillipians 2:14 is given as a reference for the story: “Do all things without murmurings and disputing.”
What I Like: I like biographies. This is a short story that is easy to read, informative, and sends a good message.
What I Dislike: The illustrations by Agnieszka Korfanty are a bit odd. They’re bright and colorful, but the faces of the monks in the story put me in the mind of Humpty Dumpty faces rather than real people.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: The publisher doesn’t give a recommended age group for the book, and Amazon suggests ages 9-12. I’d say the appropriate age group is more like 5-9.
Publisher Info: Little Lights Press, 2008; ISBN: 9780966714777; Paperback, $9.95.
Buy now at Amazon.com $9.95!
Special Info: Visit the author’s website. Read our reviews of other books by Robin Khoury.