Practice of the Presence

A Revolutionary Translation by Carmen Acevedo Butcher

Practice of the Presence

A Revolutionary Translation by Carmen Acevedo Butcher

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"Everything is possible for those who believe, even more for those who hope, still more for those who love, and most of all for those who practice and persevere in these three powerful paths."

Since it was first published in its pocket-size 1692 edition, Brother Lawrence's spiritual classic has remained in print, beloved by people of varying spiritual paths and religious traditions. With this new translation, award-winning translator Carmen Acevedo Butcher frees it from its centuries-long prison of dogmatic, binary language and brings fresh, inclusive treatment that readers are sure to find transformational. Brother Lawrence's years as a humble kitchen worker at a monastery, often remaining in the shadows of his community, gave way to a spiritual life that was profound. Poor, living with a disability, lacking a formal education, enduring a time of plague and civil unrest, he found God in the depths of his soul, experiencing God's loving presence throughout the day. His personal struggles and life-tested spiritual wisdom will resonate with contemporary readers as he invites us into a practice of Presence that is both accessible and deeply transformative.

For the first time, Brother Lawrence's work is translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher, a woman of color and a renowned scholar of medieval texts, who creates a dynamic, faithful translation for a new generation of readers.

Dive deeper with the Practice of the Presence reflection guide--perfect for group or individual study and reflection.


"In this radiant new translation, Carmen Acevedo Butcher puts her acclaimed skills as a translator fully in the service of her listening heart to deliver Brother Lawrence's timeless teaching on simplicity and presence to a world desperately in need of it. More than a translation, this is a transmission, conveying not only Lawrence's words but the spirit of inclusivity and kindness from which he wrote them. It is her faithfulness to the fragrance of his presence that makes her translation so inviting, even as we watch her take a few risks to reach a whole new world of seekers. It was a joy to watch Carmen and Brother Lawrence making such sweet music together."

Cynthia Bourgeault, author of The Heart of Centering Prayer, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene

"How to live in the presence of God is of the essence of the Christian mystical tradition. Few mystical texts have presented a practical method for attaining God's presence as effectively as the collection of letters, conversations, and biographical materials known as The Practice of the Presence of God, stemming from the Carmelite brother, Lawrence of the Resurrection (d. 1691). This gem of the Christian mystical tradition has now been made available in a striking new translation and study by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. It is a book to be treasured by all who are devoted to the inner life." 

Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor emeritus, Divinity School, University of Chicago

"What a bold, vibrant, and potent translation of this mystical masterpiece! As she did with the perennial wisdom jewel Cloud of Unknowing, Carmen Acevedo Butcher once again breaks open the stilted and patriarchal language that encrusts our most life-giving spiritual treasures and makes The Practice of the Presence of God easy to grasp and impossible to resist. Its author, the humble seventeenth-century sage Brother Lawrence, reminds us that every task, no matter how ordinary, is a fresh opportunity for drawing near to the Friend. And that the more we take refuge in this intimacy, frequently repeating such phrases as 'My God, I am all yours,' or 'God of love, I love you with all my heart,' or 'Love, create in me a new heart,' the more often we find ourselves simply resting in the presence of Love Itself." 

Mirabai Starr, translator of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Norwich; author of God of Love and Wild Mercy

"In a time of such devastation and rabid confusion, Brother Lawrence's testimony is of sublime help, and a source of radical encouragement to all seekers on all paths. In these wonderful, naked, luminous translations he lives afresh, inviting us with every word into the reality he knows and embodies so simply and fully. Do not miss this book, and give it to everyone you know."

Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope and Turn Me to Gold: 108 Translations of Kabir

"Carmen Acevedo Butcher's powerful translation of Brother Lawrence's Spiritual Maxims, letters, and conversations opens our hearts to experience God through the lens of a humble seventeenth-century friar, one who had very little to say about institutional religion and very much to say about the presence of God in the everyday lives of ordinary people. At a time when institutionalized religion often fails us, this translation reminds us that we are constantly surrounded by the divine presence and that God is accessible to us at any moment of life and far beyond the confines of churches, temples, and synagogues. It is a timely translation that holds enormous possibility for the reformation of a religious faith that desperately needs it."

Rob Nash, associate dean for doctoral programs and professor of comparative religion and mission, McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia

"Carmen Acevedo Butcher brings scholarly expertise and abundant love to this fresh rendering of a classic work of Christian literature. Brother Lawrence's spiritual insights are as timely now as they were when first written centuries ago, making this beautiful translation a much-needed gift to the world today. With its inclusion of helpful historical and biographical context, this edition deserves a place in every personal and public library."

Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity & Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

"In this welcome new edition Carmen Acevedo Butcher has made the work of Brother Lawrence freshly available in a most accessible and compelling way. In our world marked by speed, convenience, and hostility, no doubt Brother Lawrence is a persuasive antidote and alternative to a culture of alienation. We may be grateful to Acevedo Butcher for her careful, attentive work in this contemporary offer of ancient trustful wisdom."

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, author of Money and Possessions 

"Presence, not often or easily practiced, is made, once more, available to us. Each of us can practice presence by embodying all that we inhabit. May we come closer to ourselves and to God by a newly found practice of presence. This book is one such tool to inhabit a profound presence."

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, author of Body Becoming: A Path to Our Liberation

"This comprehensive translation of letters, maxims, and last words revolves around the simple practice of the presence, which is simply, and at its most essential, an awareness of the presence of God. Acevedo Butcher beautifully captures what Brother Lawrence continually reminds us: There are no special words, devotions, or actions needed, just simplicity of thought and deed."

Father Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation

"Brother Lawrence is not only a great Christian mystic; he's also charming and accessible--a sage whose wisdom is thoroughly down-to-earth and relevant to today. Carmen Acevedo Butcher's fresh, richly embodied, and at times surprising translation makes the words of this Carmelite contemplative truly come alive."

Carl McColman, author of Eternal Heart and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

"The best translations of spiritual classics are not those that sound familiar but those that strike the ear in a whole new way, because they offer proof that the teachings are still alive and evolving in our own day. Whether you love the teachings of Brother Lawrence or have never encountered them before, you can trust Carmen Acevedo Butcher to offer you a fresh hearing that is in tune with the lives we are living right now."

Barbara Brown Taylor, author of An Altar in the World


For the first time, Brother Lawrence's work is translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher, a woman of color and a renowned scholar of medieval texts, who creates a dynamic, faithful translation for a new generation of readers."

Englewood Review of Books

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506478609
  • eBook ISBN 9781506478616
  • Dimensions 5.25 x 7.25
  • Pages 242
  • Publication Date August 23, 2022