Give the All for the All

Having found in many books different methods of going to God and diverse practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing but how to become wholly God’s. This made me resolve to give the all for the All. After having given myself wholly to God, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of God, everything that was not God, and I began to live as if there was none but God and I in the world.

-Brother Lawrence

This, truly, is for me the most intimidating quote from Brother Lawrence.  I am a person who likes methods, practices, liturgies, and literary forms.  I feel more comfortable if there’s a roadmap, if I can feel myself surrounded by spiritual mentors and forebears. The very desire to use someone else’s spiritual writings in prayer arises from this tendency.  I find many different methods of going to God and diverse practices in books, and I like doing this, and trying out those methods and practices for awhile, depending on my season of life.  But Brother Lawrence makes me pause and wonder if all of these spiritual contraptions aren’t simply a distraction.  Knowing and loving God isn’t really that hard, after all.  You just have to pay attention to yourself and the world, and invite God into your observations.  That said, I don’t think I’ll stop dipping into books and looking for the wisdom of others to help me in my prayer life.  But it’s good to be reminded that it’s not necessary for me to do so, and that I shouldn’t let these methods become an idol by clinging to them too desperately, or assuming that I have no relationship with God without them.

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