It drives me: a desire.

I expressed it here, at 2012’s beginning, in the “One Word” I chose for the year: CLOSER. I long to live and walk in closer communion with my Savior.

But how?

“I can’t!” I claimed, back in this post. My fleshly efforts alone lead only to eventual frustration. Still, scripture commands me to “draw near to God,” and there “abide.” And my desire to do so burns on.

What to do?

I am rereading The Practice of the Presence of God because its focus character, Brother Lawrence, seems truly to have attained this blessing. I’m studying His example, paying closer attention to all he said there, and considering the context of His life.

I see repeated patterns in his words. One is about “can’t” — and what to do about it.

And the idea arises that I can make an acronym of C-L-O-S-E-R, each letter beginning a key word about the drawing nearer process. At least the C has lots of possibilities…

Can you think of any as you read his practical insights?…

When an occasion of practicing some virtue offered, he addressed God, saying, “Lord, I cannot do this unless Thou enable me; and then he received strength more than sufficient.

When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed His fault, saying to God, “I shall never do otherwise  if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amiss.” After this he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.

[He said] that we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen. That God had never failed to grant it, as he had often experienced.

“When I fail in my duty, I readily acknowledge it, saying, ‘I am used to so doing; I shall never do otherwise if I am left to myself.’ If I fail not, then I give God thanks, acknowledging that the strength comes from Him. “

After he had not thought of God for a good while, he did not disquiet himself for it; but after having acknowledged his wretchedness to God, he returned to Him with so much the greater trust in Him as he had found himself wretched through forgetting Him.

[He said] that the trust we put in God honors Him much and draws down great graces.

That we may beg His assistance for… rightly performing [what] we plainly see He requires of us, offering them to Him before we do them, and giving Him thanks when we have done.

That, without being discouraged on account of our sins, we should pray for His grace with a perfect confidence, as relying upon the infinite merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. That God never failed in offering His grace at each action.

When he began his business, he said… “O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end… prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.

…My common practice… I have done very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it. These, I well know, are to be imputed to the mere mercy and goodness of God, because we can do nothing without Him, and I still less than any.


And Jesus says, “Without me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5), and…

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mat 7:7; Luk 11:9)

And Galatians 3:3 says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh?” 




  • 234 – Because He has been our available dwelling place throughout all generations
  • 235 – Because He has been God from before the mountains were brought forth or ever He formed the earth
  • 236 – Because from everlasting to everlasting He is God
  • 237 – Because He transcends times, because although our lives are imprisoned in a mere blink of it, yet it nothing to Him. A thousand years to Him are but yesterday past, or a past watch of the night.
  • 238 – Because He has total power over human life, turning, returning it back to dust
  • 239 – Because nevertheless His infinite love invests us with (incomprehensibly) great worth. (“For God so loved…” “I have loved thee with an everlasting love…”

    (From Psalm 98)

    • 240 – Because He has done marvelous things — often in the past, right up to the present
    • 241 – Because His strong right hand and arm gain Him the victory
    • 242 – Because He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations
    • 243 – Because the ends of the earth have seen His salvation
    • 244 – Because He is coming again to judge the earth
    • 245 – Because He will judge the whole world with righteousness and equity

     (From Isaiah 1)

  • 246 – Because He is the ultimate heart-broken parent Who grieves over His children’s turning away from Him
  • 247 – Because He it is Who nourishes His children
  • 248 – Because it is He who brings them up
  • 249 – Because it grieves Him to see them make themselves sick and fainthearted, wounded and bruised and covered with putrefying sores
  • 250 – Because it grieves Him to see His children’s rebellion bring collective destruction, invasion, seige, and overthrow 
  • 251 – Because He is the only reason they are not totally destroyed 
  • 252 – Because He hates empty material sacrifices
  • 253 – Because He cannot bear “iniquity and the sacred meeting” wrapped up together
  • 254 – Because, even thought our sins are as scarlet, srimson, He can make them white as snow, as white wool
  • 255 – Because He hates injustice, bribing, cheating 
  • 256 – Because He hates oppression of the weak
  • 257 – Because He promises the good of the land to the willing and obedient 
  • 258 – Because He promises those who stubbornly refuse and rebel that they will be sword-devoured 
  • 259 – Because He will rid Himself of His adversaries 
  • 260 – Because He will Himself overcome/take vengeance on His enemies 
  • 261 – Because His hand will be against the wrongdoers  
  • 262 – Because He will purge away the dross and take away alloy
  • 263 – Because He will restore right judges and good counselors 
  • 264 – Because those who forsake Him will be consumed
  • 265 – Because they will be ashamed, embarrassed, over their idols
  • 266 – Because the strong rebellious against Him will be made weak as tinder before a spark


Linked to

Thought-Provoking Thursdays


9 thoughts on “What Brother Lawrence said about “Can’t!”

  1. This is the exchanged life of Col. 2 and 3. Our life for His, Col 3:3 “For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
    It is hard because our flesh wants not to be crucified. The sub headings in my NKJV say Not philosophy but Christ, not legalism but Christ, Not carnality but Christ.
    “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col. 3:17
    HE Will COMPLETE a good work in you….

  2. This is it, Laurie! You’ve got it! The concept. And like you said, getting it in the living out, in the reticent flesh, in this disruptive earth-life is another, much harder thing. Little by little, stumble by stumble, with His gracious picking me up time after time, maybe before I get to end of my time on this planet, it’ll get sunk in and lived out (I pray!)
    God bless you on this beautiful day!

  3. I’m glad you hopped over, too, Stephanie! Thanks for your sweet encouragement. May God give you a specially blessed weekend!

  4. I bought this book last summer and haven’t read it yet! Your post makes me want to pull it off my shelf and get started. The concept in the title ~ practicing the presence of God ~ draws me. I was reading a book last night by Mark Buchanan called “Your God Is Too Safe,” and he quoted Brother Lawrence and his book. So this is twice in 24 hours that I’ve read Brother Lawrence quoted by two writers I highly respect!

  5. And I must lay my hands on some of Mark Buchanan’s writing, Denise. His name seems to be popping up before my eyes, right and left, the same way. Maybe “Your God is too Safe” — a compelling title.

  6. Oh, yes, can’t but desire to. So true! Seeking His presence, calling on Him to do what we can’t – so important. Thank you for sharing.

  7. This is very much where I am at right now. I love John 15 and trying to internalize and REMEMBER to abide hourly. I’m still trying to figure out all that it means so it is a blessing to have another insight into this.

    1. Shara, I am so glad we’ve found each other amid this endeavor! That’s what I find, myself forgetting. But I’m becoming more aware of my forgetting before I’ve done it long — and that, I figure, is progress.

      I’m probably going to have a lot of posts on this, and need to put together a group of links at the bottom of each post with the other posts in series. Trying to prioritize in the summer busyness, though, and that’s way down the list. Time with Him is at the top, and I’ve just done some shifting of other things to safeguard that. But more posts on this topic should be coming, sooner or later.

      God bless, as you walk with Him!

Comments are now closed.