The Simple, Daily Cultivation of God-Consciousness
Brother Lawrence (1614–1691) wrote The Practice of the Presence of God about his constant, conscious rehearsal of God’s presence. He saw his relationship with God not as a mountaintop experience that fades in memory as years pass but as a moment-by-moment lifestyle. His service to God involved contentment with what he called little things:
Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . . We can do little things for God. I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for the love of Him. When that is done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before Him, who has given me grace to work—afterwards, I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.[i]
The simple, daily cultivation of God-consciousness has had a central role in the increasing happiness I’ve experienced over the years. I often have coffee with God, and sometimes I have a meal alone with Him. Occasionally when I’m praying, I pull out a chair for Him and think of Jesus occupying it (not only did He sit in chairs; He also built them!). I talk to Him. I’m not pretending Jesus is with me at lunch or when I pray; I simply believe His promise that He really is with me and I act in keeping with it. If you want to be happy, put meaning to the sometimes empty phrase “spending time with God.”
A king’s advisers hesitate to interrupt him, but his children are always welcome. God tells us, “Whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help” (Hebrews 4:16, CEV).
We can’t spend time with many of the world’s famous people, but I have a hunch we’d often be disappointed if we could. We can, however, spend time with God daily—hour by hour. To “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is not an impossible chore but an ongoing delight.
Imagine if we came to God as dogs come to their masters—with tail-wagging enthusiasm, overflowing joy, and complete vulnerability. What if we came bounding into His presence, conveying with everything in us, “I just want to be with you!”?
God wants us to recognize His constant presence and goodness, and thank Him not only when things go our way but “in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is as close as Scripture gets to a formula for happiness. But it’s more than a prescription; it’s a happiness-permeated reality for those who live it out.
[i] Brother Lawrence, “Pursuing the Sense of the Presence of God,” The Practice of the Presence of God, ed. Harold J. Chadwick (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 1999).