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"When I decided to devote my life to God, I found myself changed all at once – and my soul, which till that time was in trouble, felt a profound inward peace, as if she were in her center and place of rest."
Second Letter from Brother Lawrence
Not having found my practice in books, I will be glad to know your thoughts concerning it.
In a recent conversation, a man told me that the spiritual life was a life of grace, which begins with fear, which is increased by hope of eternal life, and which results in pure love. He said that each of these states had its different stages, by which one arrives at last at that blessed consummation.
I have not followed all these methods, however. At my entrance into the spiritual life, I resolved to give myself up to God, as best I could; and, for the love of Him, to renounce everything else.
At length I was able to focus my mind on God during my set time of prayer, which caused in me great delight and consolation. This practice produced in me so high a love for God, that faith alone was capable to satisfy me in that point.
Such was my beginning; and yet I must tell you, that for the first ten years I suffered much from the belief that I was not as devoted to God as I wished to be. During this time I fell often, and rose again.
When I decided to devote my life to God, I found myself changed all at once – and my soul, which till that time was in trouble, felt a profound inward peace, as if she were in her center and place of rest.
Ever since that time I walk before God simply, in faith, with humility and with love. I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him. I hope that when I have done what I can, He will do with me what He pleases.
As for what happens in my life, I cannot express it. I have no difficulty about my state, because I have no will but that of God, which I try to accomplish in all things. I would not try to take up a straw from the ground against His order, or from any other motive but purely that of love to Him.
I make it my business only to rest in His holy presence, which I keep myself in by a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God. This often causes in me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them, and prevent their appearance to others.
In short, I am assured beyond all doubt, that my soul has been with God these thirty years. I pass over many things, that I may not be tedious to you, yet I think it proper to inform you how I consider myself before God, whom I behold as my King.
I consider myself as the most wretched of men, one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. I ask His forgiveness. I abandon myself in His hands, that He may do what He pleases with me. This King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His loved one.
I find myself attached to these secret conversations with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother's breast. If I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of God, because of the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there. If sometimes my thoughts wander from it, I am presently recalled by inward motions, so charming and delicious that I am ashamed to mention them.
As for my set hours of prayer, these are only a continuation of the same conversations. Sometimes I feel like a stone before a sculptor, as he is about to make a statue. Presenting myself before God, I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul, and render me entirely like Himself.
At other times, when I apply myself to prayer, I feel my spirit and my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine. And it continues as though it were firmly fixed in God, as in its center and place of rest.